Hike Bob: Carpenter Peak Loop from Roxborough State Park | Food & Culture

A view of the Roxborough Red Rocks from the Carpenter Peak Trail

Roxborough State Park is defined by its jutting fins of red rock, historic buildings, canyons, wildlife, and even a peak to climb. For hikers, families for a day in nature, bird watchers and photographers, there is a wide variety of things to do there. Bordering a National Forest, State-Designated Wildlife Area, and Douglas County Open Space, it is also a gateway to many additional recreational opportunities.

carpenter’s peak, at the west end of the park, is a fun, moderately strenuous climb with great views of the park along the way. The top of the peak is dotted with large rocks that are easy to climb, offering great 360 degree views of the surrounding area. At just under 6.5 miles round trip and nearly 1,240 feet of ascent, it’s a decent hike, but if you’re only going to the top and back, you’re missing out. Do a few miles and you can turn this hike into a really nice loop.

From Roxborough Visitor Center, take the Willow Creek Trail for just under half a mile, to where it splits. At the “Y” turn right and start on the Carpenter Peak trail. Follow Carpenter Peak, passing the Elk Valley Trail about 2 miles, and you’ll reach a junction just over 3 miles into which you’ll take the short, easy trail to the top of Carpenter Peak.

View of Carpenter's Peak

The view to the northwest from the top of Carpenter Peak

If this is your first time on Carpenter Peak, it would be silly to miss the peak, so climb up and back on the trail. This trail intersection is the highest point on this hike, so if you’ve made it this far, be aware that for the most, the difficult passages are now behind you. Continue north on the Carpenter Peak Trail for nearly half a mile—about 3.6 miles total—to where it enters the National Forest at an intersection with the Powerline Trail. Although all signs at this intersection say to turn right to Waterton Canyon to the north, turn left here. The Powerline Trail is actually an old service road for the – you guessed it – power lines that cross or pass by the trail.

Electric line

The trail runs beside – and even under – the power lines it is named after.

At 4.75 miles the trail turns right (west) where it becomes Indian Creek Trail #800 and meets Douglas County Road 5. Continue straight onto CR 5 and about 5.45 miles past the intersection with Elk Valley Trail on the left. A short distance later, CR 5 has a steep quarter mile climb, but once at the top it’s really downhill from here. In just under 7 miles, pass a trail on the right that leads to Douglas County Open Space, then a few hundred feet later meet the Sharp Trail Ridge Trail.

Sharptail Crest

The view towards Sharptail Ridge. When you get to the bottom of this hill, turn left

Turn left and continue on County Road 5 and about 7.8 miles turn right onto Carpenter Peak Trail and follow it to the Visitor Center, a total of about 8.5 miles.


GPS created map of this hike. This shows a counter clockwise hike.

What you need to know : The distance was measured by GPS and is approximate. Your mileage may vary. Dogs, horses, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are not permitted on trails in Roxborough State Park. Park entrance fees apply. The climb to the top of Carpenter Peak is somewhat strenuous. Much of this loop is completely exposed to the sun, so bring plenty of water. A water bottle refill station is available inside the Visitor Center. Parking is limited and on busy days you may have to wait at the entrance for a space to become available. Add about 0.2 mile to this hike if you go to the top of Carpenter Peak. The total ascent to the top of Carpenter Peak is 1,237 feet and the total ascent for this loop is 1,623 feet. I created a custom itinerary for this loop at COTREX.

If you want to shorten this hike a bit – although you’ll miss out on great views – you can use the Elk Valley Trail as a shortcut, either uphill to bypass the top of Carpenter Peak or around much of the county. Route 5 going down.

Sharptail Ridge State Wildlife Area is also nearby. I wrote about this a few years ago and you can read it here and here.

To get to Carpenter Peak: From Colorado Springs, take I-25 North to Exit 184 (Founders Parkway), turn left and get into the right lane. Once past the outlets, turn right onto US 85. Take it north 11 miles, get off at the Titan Parkway exit and turn left. Follow it for 11 km (it eventually becomes Rampart Range Road) and turn left onto Roxborough Park Road. Then turn right to enter the park.

Be wise. Do good things. Leave no traces.