Just a few miles from downtown Denver, this easy-access trail begins with a long, steady climb and rewards with a wandering forest path and views of the nearby city. The trailhead in the Heritage Square parking area is marked by scraggly cottonwood, but after a short, shaded section (past an alternate trailhead), the trail opens until reaching Apex Gulch.
Follow the creek and tuck below lichen-covered outcroppings for 1.7 miles before turning left for a 2-mile loop that begins with a footbridge and a steep climb. Cruise through the thick and tranquil Enchanted Forest—watch for herds of elk moving through the trees or listen for bugling in the fall—before merging back onto the Apex Trail near mile 2.9. The route finishes with an easy descent back into Apex Gulch and offers city views on the way back to the trailhead.
Note: The Apex Trail and others in the area are open to hikers, bikers, and horses, so watch for trail traffic, especially headed uphill into the canyon where a few corners cut down visibility and make fast-moving cyclists hard to spot.
-Mapped by Jeff and Michele Hendrick