As one of the closest mountain towns to the capitol, Evergreen attracts its fair share of nature enthusiasts. Especially with parks such as Alderfer/Three Sisters Park and Dedisse Park. There are some of the best day hiking trails on the Front Range, hidden with its miles and miles of evergreen forests.
Nestled among the foothills of the Front Range in Jefferson County lies Evergreen, 30 miles west of Denver. Perched at an elevation of 7,200 feet, it’s encircled by the Denver Mountain Parks and Jeffco Open Space parks. Both park systems offer thousands of acres and hundreds of miles of trail networks in Jefferson County and the adjacent counties of Clear Creek, Douglas and Grand.
Still an unincorporated community today, the first settlers arrived at “The Post” (later renamed “Evergreen” for the locale’s thick evergreen forests) just before the start of the Civil War. Notable people who called Evergreen, Colorado home include U.S. Olympic medalist Scott Hamilton, former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, former MLB third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and attempted presidential assassin John Hinckley, Jr.
Hiking Around Evergreen Lake
Evergreen Lake is the centerpiece of this beautiful mountain town. Many people walk and jog on the trail by its edge. It makes a great starting point for discovering the nearby recreation. Attractions focus around Evergreen Lake Park, host to a variety of annual events throughout the year. These include Skate the Lake (December 31), the Lake Plunge (January 1) and the Evergreen Pond Hockey Championship (February 1-2 in 2020).
Due to an ongoing bridge replacement project at the lake—with construction forecast to last into mid-January 2020—Skate the Lake and the Lake Plunge face cancellation this winter. More significantly, to protect the area’s water supply against threats of invasive species and pollutants, Evergreen Lake no longer allows private boating.
Still, the lake is home to the world’s largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor ice rink with 8.5 acres of ice and 10+ open-air hockey rinks. Both CNN and Sunset Magazine rank Evergreen among the best ice skating rinks anywhere.
Hiking Dedisse and Alderfer/Three Sisters Parks
When the seasons preclude ice skating, outdoor lovers can enjoy many nearby hiking trails.
Two parks lie directly east of Evergreen Lake (the entirety of the lake is considered a park separate from adjoining land): Dedisse Park and, bordering it to the west and south, Alderfer/Three Sisters Park.
These recreational areas offer 27 trails (three in Dedisse Park). All are rated either “Easy” or “Moderate” (except for a 0.6-mile portion of Sisters Trail between Hidden Fawn and Bearberry Trails) and range in distance from under a mile to over 12 miles. Alderfer/Three Sisters Park covers 1,128 acres with 15.3 miles of trails. Dedisse Park’s 420 acres includes 55 acres of Evergreen Lake, the Evergreen Golf Course and 1.25-mile Evergreen Lake Trail.
While well-marked, most trails are a maze of “mix-and-matched” loops. Various trail portions combine with neighboring segments to create separate individual routes. Hikers are strongly urged to consult an interactive map of the park.
If you want to consult your smartphone for trail routes while hiking in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park, note that AT&T Wireless (and AT&T-hosted providers such as Cricket Wireless) do not provide coverage in the area. Reputedly, Sprint has the strongest coverage, T-Mobile the weakest and Verizon in between. Caveat emptor: YMMV. For detailed coverage maps of each carrier, download the OpenSignal app for either Android or iOS here.
Alderfer/Three Sisters Park has two trailheads. The west trailhead has a larger parking lot.
- East Trailhead – 30357 Buffalo Park Road, Evergreen, CO 80439
- West Trailhead – 5136 South Le Masters Road, Evergreen, CO 80439
To access trails originating in Dedisse Park, either start at the Dedisse Park entrance at State Hwy 74 (Evergreen Pkwy) or the Evergreen Lake House. Parking is available at both locations.
Follow these rules while enjoying Alderfer/Three Sisters and Dedisse Parks:
- Dogs on leash at all times; remove pet waste and dispose into receptacles
- No campfires (see below for grilling at Dedisse Park)
- No camping
- No motorized traffic
- Cyclists must yield to all other traffic
- No commercial activity or events without a permit
- No wildlife feeding
- No open firearms carry
- Comply with all posted park closures
- No cannabis use
- Park hours are from one hour before sunrise to one hour past sundown
Unless a fire ban is in effect, the Evergreen Park and Recreation District allows the use of propane grills. Those who fish in Evergreen Lake must comply with all Colorado Parks and Wildlife rules and regulations.
Trails in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park (Jefferson County Open Space Park)
All trails are north of Buffalo Park Rd unless otherwise noted.
- Alderfer, Three Sisters, Evergreen Mountain, and Dedisse Loop – 12.4 miles; access at Dedisse Park entrance at State Hwy 74 (Evergreen Pkwy)
- Alderfer Three Sisters Trail – 6.7 miles; access east trailhead—trail is both north and south of Buffalo Park Rd
- Hidden Fawn to Mount Muhly Trail Loop – 6.6 miles; access east trailhead
- Evergreen Mountain via East and West Trail Loop – 5.5 miles; access east trailhead—trail is south of Buffalo Park Rd
- Evergreen Mountain West, Summit and East Trail Loop – 5.3 miles; access west trailhead—trail is south of Buffalo Park Rd
- Sisters, Mountain Muhly, Homestead, Silver Fox and Ponderosa Loop – 5.2 miles; access east trailhead
- Evergreen Mountain Trail – 4.2 miles; access west trailhead—trail is south of Buffalo Park Rd
- Hidden Fawn, Sisters Trail, Brother’s Lookout, Ponderosa Loop – 4.2 miles; access east trailhead
- Bluebird Meadow, Mountain Muhly and Bearberry Trail Loop – 3.6 miles; access west trailhead
- Hidden Fawn and Bearberry Trail – 3.6 miles; access east trailhead
- Bearberry Trail to Silver Fox Trail Loop – 3.3 miles; access west trailhead
- Sisters Trail, Hidden Fawn, Ponderosa Loop – 3.3 miles; access west trailhead
- Brother and Sisters Loop – 3.1 miles; access west trailhead
- Brother’s Lookout via Sisters Trail and Silver Fox Trail – 2.9 miles; access east trailhead
- Coneflower, Mount Muhly, and Bearberry Trail Loop – 2.5 miles; access west trailhead
- Three Sisters and Little Brother Trails – 2.5 miles; access west trailhead
- Hidden Fawn and Three Sisters Loop – 2.4 miles; access east trailhead
- Three Sisters Trail to Ponderosa Trail Loop – 2.3 miles; access east trailhead
- Bearberry and Silver Fox Loop – 2.2 miles; access west trailhead
- Brother’s Lookout via Ponderosa Trail Loop – 2.2 miles; access east trailhead
- Brother’s Lookout and Three Sisters Loop – 2.0 miles; access east trailhead
- Three Sisters via Sisters and Hidden Fawn Trail Loop – 1.9 mile; access east trailhead
- Homestead, Silver Fox, and Ponderosa Loop – 1.5 mile; access west trailhead
- Wild Iris Loop – 0.7 mile; access west trailhead—trail is south of Buffalo Park Rd
Dedisse Park (Denver Mountain Park)
- Evergreen Lake Trail – 1.4 mile; trailhead and parking at Evergreen Lake House
- Three Sisters, Dedisse, and Hidden Fawn Loop Trail – 6.7 miles; access at Dedisse Park entrance at State Hwy 74 (Evergreen Pkwy)
- Three Sisters (out-and-back trail) – 1.7 mile; access at Dedisse Park entrance at State Hwy 74 (Evergreen Pkwy)
Highlights and Amenities
The best time of year to hike or bike these trails is from April to October’s end unless, of course, one wants to snowshoe. Visual highlights include summer wildflowers, undulating aspen forests, expansive vistas and three scenic overlooks—Brother’s Lookout, Sisters’ Trail Summit and Evergreen Mountain (elevation 8,536 feet). Stay aware for horseback riders while on Alderfer/Three Sisters Park trails.
Evergreen Mountain trails south of Buffalo Park Rd have elevation changes of over 1,000 feet as well as one of only 68 feet (Wild Iris Loop). While elevation changes north of Buffalo Park Rd are not as severe, grades can be as steep as 28%.
For those wishing to enjoy an alfresco repast, both parks have picnic facilities available. Visitors can find a picnic shelter at the Alderfer/Three Sisters west trailhead. Both Alderfer/Three Sister trailheads have information centers and restroom facilities; the Dedisse Park trailhead at Evergreen Pkwy has neither but hikers and bikers will find four separate restroom facilities throughout the park.
Hiking Elephant Butte
Not mentioned among the aforementioned routes is a trail to the top of nearby Elephant Butte, elevation 8,400 feet. This peak lies within a tract of the Denver Mountain Parks system and outside the western boundary of Alderfer/Three Sisters Park. To access Elephant Butte, hikers start at the Alderfer/Three Sisters Park west trailhead.
Reach this trailhead by traveling south from Evergreen on SH 73. Turn west on Buffalo Park Road (County Hwy 89). After a mile or so, you’ll pass the east parking lot (near the east trailhead). Continue another half mile, go past historic Alderfer/Three Sisters Barn, a 5 acre-site leased by the Evergreen Park & Recreational District from JeffCo Open Space, and turn right on South Le Masters Road. The west trailhead parking lot is immediately on the right.
While not marked on the Alderfer/Three Sisters Park map, an unofficial “Class 1” trail leads to the top of Elephant Butte. Hikers leave the Mountain Muhly Loop where the trail forks at 39.639189 latitude and -105.356948 longitude. Refer to the map and the photo below for the route to the summit. From the west trailhead, an out-and back trip is approximately 5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet
Hiking Elk Meadow Park South Loop
Elk Meadow Park is a majestic place to hike with family, friends or even your dog as you take in the great views of Colorado. Located 25 minutes away from Downtown, take I-70 west to Evergreen Parkway and head south on Evergreen Parkway (74) to Stagecoach Blvd. Turn right (West) and take Stagecoach Blvd to the main parking area.
The main attraction in Elk Meadow Park is the loop which unveils all different sections of the park. From the pine and aspen forest to the open meadows, it takes the course all the way through the fields and skirts up to the lower edges of Bergen Park. Starting from the main parking area, head out north on the Meadow Trail through pine forest embracing the beautiful views of Elk Meadow.
After 3 miles, you’ll get to a trail junction. Turn left as the Meadow view trail weaves in and out of pine forest and meadow with the constant views of aspen grove along the way. Pass by the turn off for the Bergen Peak Trail after which you can turn for the Elk Ridge Trail and continue along the side of the mountain until you reach the Founders Trail junction.
If you wish to go an extra 1.1 miles to the hike, you can stay on the Meadowview Trail and Painter’s Pause Trail. If not, just turn right and head onto the Founders Trail. One gets to experience the spectacular views of Bergen Peak and Elk Meadow when crossing the Founders Trail through the open meadow.
As soon as you reach the Painter’s Pause Trail turn right and go southwards. From here, the Sleepy “S” trail will return you back to the west and south back into the forest to meet up with the Meadow Trail where the loop starts. Just follow the Meadow Trail back to the parking area. For a light 5 mile hike, the Elk Meadow Trail is a simple task to complete. However, if you want more adventure and your legs to curse you, try the Bergen Peak long trail.
These parks and trails in Evergreen are situated near populated areas, so you’ll likely share space with other outdoors lovers. Have fun, be safe and be considerate of other visitors.