Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Deer Creek Canyon Trail Review

by Kris Phillips

At just over 2.5 miles Deer Creek Canyon loop is a nice, scenic, and relatively easy trail just south of Littleton, Colorado. While this is a popular trail, the parking area is fairly large and accommodating.

As Melissa and I got situated and studied the trail map to determine our best route we were greeted by a park ranger who thanked us for leashing the dogs, and also warned us about an abundance of rattle snakes seen in the area.

Having lived and hiked the trails of Southern Arizona for nearly a decade before moving to Colorado, I know to take a rattler warning seriously, without giving it too much stress. 

Our first time out on this one we took Plymouth trail, which winds along the creek and is heavily shaded, and then caught Meadowlark Trail back to complete the loop.

The gentle incline as you trek along the trail makes the first part of this trail nice on a warm day. At the intersection of the two trails we found a good little watering spot that seemed to be dog central.

After a quick cool off for the dogs we crossed the footbridge and headed on along Meadowlark. The shade trees quickly dissipated and gave way to low scrub brush. I imagined it bust be a birders paradise. And a rattlesnakes too. 

The sun-drenched trail did offer some awesome views though of the valley below. Cruising along, Floki spotted something of interest and shoved his face under some brush before I could reel him in. As I hauled him back on the trail my heart skipped as I waited to hear the telltale rattle. But nothing. I suspect it was just a lizard that caught his attention.

We weren’t on the Meadowlark trail long before realizing we probably should have reversed our trek. The afternoon sun quickly warmed up the pooches. Though the ground felt cool enough it was clear the dogs were getting uncomfortable. All I kept thinking was how nice & shady the first half of the trail had been. 

When we finally made our way back to the parking area, the dogs were ready for some AC, and we finished our day out with a quick cool off in Chatfield Reservoir. 

So when my husband suggested we go for a hike the next day I couldn’t wait to show him to the new trail I’d discovered. But I thought ahead this time and we started out on the sunny side of the mountain. Thinking it’d be great to cool off in the creek afterward, and then finish on the shady Plymouth trail. Though the clouds overhead looked a little ominous we gave it a shot anyway.

Well, just over the mile mark Robbie & Swota stopped dead in their tracks. And Robbie put a hand out to block me. About 20 feet ahead, stretched out in the sunshine was a big ol’ rattler. We stopped for a moment and contemplated our options. Either side of the trail was dense scrub brush, and the snake didn’t look like he planned to go anywhere any time soon. As we went over our options a few other hikers came up behind us and paused as well. Then we all watched with amazement as one guy said he was going to get a pic of it, walked right over and stood above the coiled snake. With his approach the snake raised up out of his coil and shook his butt menacingly. 

The sound of the rattle sent Floki into prey-drive and I was so grateful to have a strong leash on him.

Very much wanting to finish our hike I felt like we’d encountered a fairy-tale bridge troll. After a bit more hesitation and hoping he might let us pass, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk and returned back down the trail from which we’d come.

Though at first a little disappointed I had to give the snake a little credit. Just as we reached the parking lot down came the hail! If he hadn’t sent us back we’d have been caught out in the open instead of making a short sprint back to the safety of the truck.

So to wrap it up:

  • Deer Creek Canyon Loop is a relatively easy trail with moderate elevation gain.
  • You’ll find varied terrain and wonderful views to enjoy.
  • Snakes are prevalent in the area so keep your eyes and ears peeled.
  • Due to the snake population, keep your dog on the trail and on a short leash.
  • Also a nice place to enjoy the wildflowers.

What to do if your dog is bitten by a snake?


**Some photos provided by Melissa Hamilton** Thanks Melissa for being the hiking photographer so I don’t have to work all the time ;P


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