In Eldorado Canyon, one of the easiest trails to hike will also provide access to one of the park’s more challenging routes. Fowler Trail is a wide, wheelchair-friendly dirt trail with a gradual slope, and some great views. And once you’re on it, you can decide whether to tackle the more challenging Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, which begins a few hundred yards from Fowler’s trailhead.
You’ll find the start of the Fowler Trail about halfway up the canyon. Watch for the road to cut through the rock. The trailhead is on the left — though there are only a few parking spots, so you might need to park on the other side of the gap, and walk back.
This is what you can expect along the Fowler Trail. It’s wide, smooth, and well maintained. Down below, you can see the road and the creek.
The slope of the Fowler Trail isn’t too extreme — which is a result of its historical origins. The Fowler Trail started as a railroad grade, for the Denver Utah & Pacific line, but no tracks were ever laid. The empty path provided the only access to Eldorado Canyon from the 1880’s to 1927, when the current road was constructed.
Watch out for snakes! Thankfully, this guy isn’t real, but he did give me quite a fright. This sculpture of a rattlesnake was placed near the start of the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, as a reminder of the kind of wildlife you could encounter.
As you walk up the Fowler Trail, you’re heading towards the entrance to the park, high above the road you came in on. When you get near the mouth of the canyon, there’s a place to stop and look through a telescope at the rocky peaks on the other side of the creek.
One of the big rocks at the mouth of the canyon is the Bastille. A sign marks the spot where you might run into some rock climbers.
Slip through the gap next to the Bastille, and you’re almost completely out of the canyon. From here on, the trail is more narrow, rocky, and it’s no longer wheelchair-friendly. A bit further, the trail turns south, away from Eldorado Springs.
I made this my turn-around point, and backtracked back into the canyon.