DIRECTIONS: From I-25 exit at Larkspur (exit 173). Pass through the town of Larkspur and turn right onto Perry Park Avenue. After about 3 miles turn left onto Highway 105. Continue for .6 mile abd turn right into Sandstone Ranch Open Space.
The Juniper Valley Trail is one of the longer loops at the newly established Sandstone Ranch Open Space. The trail is popular and gets busy on weekends. This hike explores the northern sections of Sandstone Ranch and is a beautiful hike through open hillsides, along red rock cliffs, and over gamble oak covered ridges. The views are beautiful and expansive along this 3 mile loop.
From the trailhead turn right and head north towards the trail zigzagging up the hillside. The trail switchbacks gently across the hillside towards a saddle providing your first views of the surrounding landscape. At the saddle you have the option of hiking the short but interesting looking Buzzard Loop. For the Juniper Valley Loop, stay straight on the main trail. The trail has impressive views of the surrounding rock formations making this an exciting part of the hike. This are can get a bit confusing since there are multiple junctions. Stay on the main trail and follow the signs for the Juniper Valley Trail.
The trail heads off to the west across open terrain with wonderful northernly views. Before too long you'll reach the start of the loop. I suggest hiking the trail counter-clockwise by turning right. The trail follows the top of a ridge with plentiful views. After about .3 mile you'll come to an overlook with views of the foothills to the south of the Ranch followed soon by the Red Rock Vista overlook. The trail then descends along the base of some red rock cliffs to the valley floor. This is one of the more scenic parts of the trail. Cross a meadow and head up through gamble oak forrest. This part of the trail follows another ridge back up to the start of the loop and...again...provides wonderful scenic views. When you return to the start of the loop, retrace your steps back to the saddle and down to the trailhead.
Sandstone Ranch is a beautiful addition to the Douglas County Open Space system but the word is out and it gets busy with hikers, bikers, and equestrians. However, this is a large area with one parking lot so don't get discouraged, the crowds disperse once you hit the trail...plenty of room for everyone...enjoy!
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
Juniper Valley Loop
Sandstone Ranch Open Space
Date Hiked: December 6, 2020
Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 330 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,519 to 6,673 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39.22562, -104.94150
Managing Agency: Douglas County Open Space