More than ‘mini Incline’ at park in Castle Rock

Challenge Hill in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Out-of-towners know Castle Rock’s Philip S. Miller Park for the zip line. That tour ventures near the top of the park’s other well-known feature: the Challenge Hill, a miniature version of the world-famous Manitou Incline, the mountain-spanning set of railroad ties in Manitou Springs.

Castle Rock residents, meanwhile, know Philip S. Miller Park for much more.

The centerpiece of the $30 million, 300-acre park is an activity complex that includes sports fields, indoor batting cages, a pool and a golf simulator. The kids have a playground in here and outside. They might prefer to keep busy this way while the adults hit the trails.

The views can’t be beat from the final, 200th step of the Challenge Hill, with the snow-capped promontories of Rocky Mountain National Park in one direction and the familiar rock face of Devil’s Head in the other, along with Pikes Peak.

From the hill, a trail takes hikers back down. It’s part of an 8-mile network of singletrack that mountain bikers have raved about since the park’s 2014 opening.

Development is a prevailing story line in Castle Rock; along the road to the park, Miller’s Landing is a proposed commercial space similar in size to the outlet mall. But the trails here go to show the town’s commitment to outdoor recreation. Several color-coded loops interconnect, with a stem from Gold Loop leading to more fun in Ridgeline Open Space.

The hilly mosaic tends to pack and keep snow, making the dirt muddy and inaccessible at times in the winter and spring. Snow is plowed on the 1-mile sidewalk loop, touring yet more of the park’s amenities: an amphitheater for concerts; a pond-side event space for weddings and other celebrations; a towering climbing wall; and a Ninja Warrior-like ropes course.

Those last two, along with the zip line, are run by a business that counts tens of thousands of customers every year. From year one, Philip S. Miller Park has seen more than a million visitors annually, local officials report.

Philip S. Miller Park, Castle Rock

Getting there: Park located at 1375 W. Plum Creek Parkway.

FYI: Trails for hiking and biking only. Dogs on leash, but no dogs on Challenge Hill. For trail conditions, go to crgov.com/trailconditions. Zip line tours $89, prices for other courses $20-$50, castlerockzipline tours.com.

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