Before a gated neighborhood, a road turns into the Littleton countryside, leading to “a tranquil and treasured place.” So reads the description on Roxborough State Park’s welcome sign. For Colorado Springs residents, the towering, red slabs of sandstone will call to mind Garden of the Gods. But this Front Range gem is different.

Across the park’s 3,300-plus acres are multicolored formations representing hundreds of millions of years of uplift. The ripples on the rocks appear unremarkable, unless you consider those lines being left by waves of an ancient sea. Stunning nature awaits discovery in Roxborough, and the family-friendly South Rim Trail provides a perfect tour.

From the visitor center, take the dirt path into thick stands of scrub oak. Clearings put the oddly-shaped rocks on full display, bulging and jutting from the hills that were deep green on this early summer visit, before the typical wildflower bloom. At a wide meadow, the trail thins and ribbons around to higher woods. The incline is subtle and the rewards surprising. By 1½ miles, you’re gazing upon a valley carved by a line of red rocks, the mountains looming in the distance above Littleton.

Those vistas are at your back if you start the loop from South Rim’s other trailhead. From the visitor center, the second half of the trail spills from the ridge down to the junction with the Willow Creek Trail. Continue straight toward the road, crossing to the path that returns to the visitor center.

To add a few miles, consider a figure-eight that connects this South Rim loop with the Fountain Valley loop.

Trip log: 3.16 miles round trip (loop), 324-foot elevation gain, 6,538 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit toward Castle Rock Parkway and go north on U.S. 85 toward Littleton. Take the Titan Parkway exit and turn left, continuing on Titan Road, which becomes North Rampart Range Road. After about 4 miles, turn left onto Roxborough Drive and follow to park.

FYI: $7 entrance fee. No dogs. Hiking only.

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