DIRECTIONS: From I-70, exit at the Quebec Street exit and head north. Turn right onto Prairie Parkway at the sign for the refuge. Follow Prairie Parkway and turn left on Gateway Road which leads into the refuge. Follow signs to the visitor center, the trail starts behind the center.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful space for hiking and the largest and closest natural area to Denver. The refuge has a state of the art visitors center which is certainly worth a visit on its own. The refuge has a large system of hiking trails and the Discovery Loop starts at the visitors center. This is a great trail for kids to experience the refuge and learn about the prairie environment. Tack on the Legacy Trail, with Bison viewing opportunities and you've got a great little hike.
The trail starts at the amphitheater and overlook behind the visitors center. The loop itself is an easy walk with nice Front Range mountain views and interpretive signs to teach you about the local environment. The loop is short and perfect for a quick introduction to the refuge.
At the eastern end of the loop, you can turn onto the Legacy Trail. This trail leads to the old visitors center at Lake Mary. From the turnoff, the trail skirts up a hill through scrub oaks and through a wildlife containment gate. After the gate the trail follows a Bison enclosure and if you're lucky you'll be able to see the herd. As you head east, the trail passes through some sparse trees and a juniper forest before reaching Havana Street, which you cross to get to Lake Mary.
If you turn around after the Juniper trees and complete the Discovery Loop on your way back then the hike is just under 2 miles. With little ones in tow, this is the perfect distance. A nice hike and a great way to get a taste of the refuge.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Discovery Loop & Legacy Trail
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Date Hiked: March 18, 2020
Distance: 1.8 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Elevation: 5,200 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 48' 53" N; 104º 52' 47" W
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service