Easy kid hike: Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain has one of the nicest visitor centers we’ve ever seen.
It’s not the biggest, but it is beautiful, with wood-beam ceilings and leafy, woodsy details on the light fixtures. There’s a diorama in the middle of the room, featuring forest animals and creatures who burrow underground, and native birds. But our favorite is the small kids’ room tucked in the back, with a reading area for curling up with a book on forest animals, and magnifying glasses for exploring branches or antlers up close, and stuffed animals. You could spend a good long time in the Lookout Mountain visitor center alone.
So we always stop there first, then head outside to the group picnic tables for lunch or a snack…and then head on the trail. There are two you can take from the visitor center – the Forest Loop trail is an easy 1/2 mile walk with signs that teach kids more about the trees and animals in the area. There are some very slight ups and downs, but there are also plenty of benches to rest along the way.
The Meadow Loop trail is only slightly longer – 1.1 miles total – and heads a little farther out, where you can get some amazing views of Denver in the distance. You may also see some deer along the way – once in late spring we encountered the tiniest fawn any of us had ever seen. It’s a popular spot for mamas and babies, apparently.
There is also a lovely wooden bridge… which never seems to have water under it, but we enjoy it nonetheless.
On the walk back, you can wander through the grounds of the 101-year old Boettcher Mansion (if they don’t have a private event going on) and make one last stop in the visitor center to refill water bottles and wind down with a few books before the drive home.
Visitor Center hours: CLOSED MONDAYS, Tuesday-Friday 12p-4p; Saturday & Sunday 11a-4p
Nature Preserve hours: 8a-dusk every day
From I-70, take exit 256 (it’s marked as the exit for Lookout Mountain). Head left and follow signs to the park.
Parking Fee: no fee
Bathroom situation: Flush toilets and drinking fountains are available in the visitor center
Other things to know: snowy or muddy trails can be slippery, especially in shaded areas; there are no nearby places to eat so it’s best to bring food along