Such a Beautiful Trail

Jim Creek

Dogs Love This Hike Too


Hike of the Week: Jim Creek

Jim Creek is a trail I've been wanting to get my feet on all Summer so I was happy to find a sunny Fall afternoon last week to take to the path. Jim Creek Trail is found in the Bonfils Stanton Outdoor Center, directly across Highway 40 from Winter Park Resort. One can access the trail via the Discovery Trail loop, or head further into the parking lot and find the Challenger trail, a natural dirt path, which connects with both. I chose the latter, as I was being accompanied by two curious pups that like to explore.  

We made our way on the path and up to the road (FDR 128) which is where we found the Jim Creek Trailhead and the entrance to the James Peak Protection Area. The trees at the beginning of the trail are bizarre and intriguing. They line each side and reach up to make a tunnel of branches for the trail-goer to walk through. For most of the trail we are hiking alongside Jim Creek, but even when it moves away I could still hear the river rushing. My favorite thing about Jim Creek is that it took me all of 5 minutes to get there from downtown Winter Park, yet once I began to hike I felt completely immersed in the forest.

The creek washes away any noise there may have been from the highway allowing anyone the opportunity to disconnect and submit to nature. About a mile and a half into the trail we started running into remnants from last weeks snowfall. The trail opened to a beautiful meadow where I could see views of James Peak and dozens of aspen groves that covered the mountainside. We pressed on about another mile before the trail became too muddy and we decided to call it a day, but not before finding a beautiful rock beach in the middle of Jim Creek. We made our way across some fallen trees out to the middle where the sun was shining and the sound of running creek water was relaxing.

It was a perfect spot to have some water and a snack and let the dogs wander. On our way back to the car we decided to take the Discovery Trail boardwalk. It was easy on the feet and eyes as we walked through willows and over small portions of the creek. Still checking out the aspens in the distance and seeing snow on the peaks, it was a beautiful Fall day, and not going to lie, it got me excited for Winter. While I was unable to make it to the end of the trail, in its entirety it is approximately 7 miles round-trip and gains 1,225 feet and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! A couple things to remember when on the trail:

  • Say “Hi!” We are all friendly out here and this makes sure others know you are there.
  • Yield to bikers and horses. It’s easy to step off trail with a friendly wave and let them by.
  • Pack It In – Pack It Out.
  • Read trailhead guidelines. There may be specific rules for the trail you are on.
  • Stay on trail.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for animals. While we humans love to see wildlife, the animals you may encounter are wild and could be dangerous. Observe from a distance.
  • Have fun!

Check back weekly for my favorite hiking trails in Colorado’s favorite® Playground! Or click here for more hiking info and maps.