Looking for a beautiful, easy hike near Denver? Lair O’ The Bear park is the perfect place for families and kids of any age to hike. Its surface, mileage, creek, and castle makes it a fun and easy hike for kids in the Denver area. Read on for more info about Lair O the Bear.
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Where is Lair O’ The Bear Park?
Lair O’ The Bear Park is located in Idledale, Colorado. This small town is just beyond the town of Morrison. If you are familiar with Red Rocks park and amphitheater, it’s just a short drive away from that.
How to get to Lair O’ The Bear Park:
From C-470, exit to Morrison heading west. After you pass through the town of Morrison, you’ll wind through a canyon for a few miles. Then you’ll pass through the small town of Idledale. Shortly after, the parking lot for Lair O’ the Bear will be on the left.
Does it Cost Money to Visit Lair O’ The Bear?
No. This park is part of the Jefferson County open space, so there is no cost to visit.
Are There Bathrooms?
Yes, there are a few bathrooms at Lair O’ the Bear park. They are near the parking lot, and are what I would call “fancy outhouses.” Toilets are no-flush, but the walls and floors are finished inside.
About Lair O’ the Bear Park
Lair O’ the Bear is a beautiful open space that houses nearly 400 acres of land. Within are 4.7 miles of trails, ranging in difficulty so you can find the perfect hike.
Lair O the Bear was originally the land used for the Mountain Nook Ranch, owned by John and Mathilda Johnson in the early 1900’s. By 1978, the land became open space for all to enjoy.
Activities at Lair O’ The Bear Park
- Fish in Bear Creek
- Enjoy the colors in fall
- View the Dunafon Castle
- Take a hike
- Have a picnic at one of the many picnic tables
- Enjoy feeling the water of Bear Creek
- Bike on select trails
The Easiest Trail at Lair O’ the Bear – Bear Creek Trail to Dunafon Castle Hike
If you need an easy hike near Denver for even the youngest kids, Lair O’ the Bear is perfect!
While there are many trails at the park, the best one for little kids and an easy Sunday-morning-type-of-stroll is Bear Creek Trail.
Easy, wide trail
Bear Creek Trail is a very easy hike that follows Bear Creek. The trail in total is over 12 miles, but you can take a smaller segment (which is what we did) to get to the famous Castle at Lair O’ the Bear park.
Try jumping up onto Creekside Trail on the way back. It’s a short detour that takes you closer to the creek for a small section. The trail is made of sand on this section.
To get to the Castle:
The trail to the castle is about a mile, or 2 miles round-trip.
From the parking lot, head to the right along Bear Creek Trail. This trail follows both the curves of the road off the parking lot and the creek. The road, however, inclines and rises above the park, so you don’t notice it too often.
The Bear Creek Trail is an easy terrain of packed dirt. It’s also nice and wide and pretty flat.
Besides being the easiest trails at Lair O’ the Bear, it’s also beautiful.
We were able to walk along Bear Creek Trail during October and the trees were so full of color. But even if you are not visiting in October, the trail is filled with plants, trees, and (my kids’ favorite) a creek.
The creek even has a point at which you have to cross its shallow waters. Rocks are laid out to keep you dry as you cross. This was definitely my kids’ favorite part and we stayed at the creek crossing for a while as they went back and forth over the water.
Around 1 mile down the trail, you’ll come to the Dunafon Castle.
Dunafon Castle at Lair O’ the Bear
Unfortunately, the castle is not open to the public, nor can you access the ground.
There is actually a gate preventing any trespassers onto the property.
BUT, you can still get a great view of the castle from the trail. Both the castle and the grounds are gorgeous!
The Dunafon Castle was developed by Marcus Wright, who took over 10 years to plan and build the castle. It was designed after a Celtic castle and has many of the same attributes.
After a long history and tragedy with the family, the Castle eventually came to into the hands of its current owners. They, along with family members and hundred of people from the Step 13 program, cleaned it up into what it is today. Today the Dunafon Castle hosts weddings, and a percentage of every event is donated to the Step 13 program.
If you’re looking to check out some castle ruins nearby, head to Mount Falcon Park where you can walk the Castle Trail.
Photos of Lair O’ the Bear Park
Because I can’t put completely into words how beautiful this park is, here are a few Lair O’ The Bear park photos:
A little detour on Creekside Trail- a bit more sandy!
Lair O’ the Bear Park
This was such a perfect, beautiful, and easy hike near Denver perfect for kids and we are so glad we stopped by. We especially loved the changing leaves, but really anytime would be beautiful at Lair O’ the Bear Park.
Be sure to check out nearby Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater