General Mountain Information: Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail
Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail Rating: ★★★★ (⅘ Stars)
Distance: 5 Miles RT
Elevation Start: 6,562 ft
Summit (Highest Point of Park): 7,584 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 1,260 ft (you gain most of this on your way back to the parking area)
Estimated Time to Complete: 2-2.5 Hours RT
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate What does this mean?
Class: Class 2
Season: Year Round – Expect snow December – February
Trailhead: Buffalo Overlook
Getting Here: From I-70, take exit 253 (Chief Hosa) and continue towards Stapleton Road (right off highway if traveling west, left off highway if traveling east). You can enter “Buffalo Overlook” into your favorite navigational device to get to the TH.
Parking: There is a parking lot at the start of the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail TH and it can fit anywhere from 30-35 cars. Parking is free and there are a couple of non-plumbing bathrooms as well. This area was once an undiscovered gem, but now can get very busy on weekends.
Dogs: The Beaver Brook and Chavez Trail is a dog friendly loop. Dogs must be kept on a leash, especially when more crowded. Full disclosure, your dog will probably leave this hike in need of a bath. However, I really like this hike for dogs in the summer because there is lots of cover from the sun which is hard to find this close to Denver.
Camping: You can camp at the Chief Hosa campground which is located right across I-70. Camping is open May 1 – the third week of September, reservations are required for this area. For more information, you can visit this page.
Other Events In Area: Things to do and places to do things in Colorado: Concerts, Festivals, Events – eventsincolorado.com. The most complete calendar of things to do throughout the state of Colorado including concerts, fairs, festivals and family friendly activities
Make it a Loop: This hike is a loop, but you can easily extend your hike with many other miles of trails. View a complete park map here.
Trail Summary: The Beaver Brook & Chavez loop is a newly remodeled trail in Genesee Park. Previously, the Beaver Brook trail was accessed near Lookout Mountain, but this new trailhead was created in 2015. This loop trail is a great for families, dogs, beginner hikers and people who don’t want to travel too far out of Denver to get their dose of nature.
Trail X Factors: Lack of Bridges
When you hike the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail loop, you will notice (as of Spring 2017) that there are a tremendous lack of bridges near the north portion of the trail. Where is the north part you ask? Well, it’s the part that has all of the rivers; trust me, you won’t miss it. When you get here, you will have to navigate across a number of water crossings without a bridge. None of them are terribly dangerous or deep, but can easily add some wet shoes to the second half of your hike.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots/Shoes
- Mickey’s Mountain Kit
- Water / Snack
- Optional: Hiking Poles
- Optional: Camera
- Optional: Tripod
Mick’s Tip: In my opinion the best way to hike this trail would be counter clockwise. To do this, bear left at the first fork you encounter upon leaving the trailhead. I suggest this because the trail going down to the valley on this end is a bit easier on your knees and I think most people take the other option which means a little more privacy while hiking. My second tip would be to hike this on a weekday or early (before 8AM) on a weekend to avoid crowds. Since this hike is right off I70 and close to Denver, it does get very busy. My third and final tip is to look for the buffalo or bison who inhabit the area and occasionally will be grazing against the fence near the parking lot.
Photography Tip: Surprisingly, this hike has a number of decent photo opportunities. The best views of the foothills and mountains are closer to the parking lot. However, once you hike down into the valley, there are ample spots for long exposure and water shots. If you are lucky, the buffalo herd will be in the area which makes for some cool photos for the whole family.
Mick’s Trip Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail
I am constantly looking to try out hikes close to the Denver area and had hiked neighboring Chief Hosa a number of times, but never made my way across the highway to Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail. I first hiked this loop back in the early spring but forgot my camera. This time, I made sure that my Nikon was in the bag with my other supplies when Jackie, Juno and I hit the trail.
It was Mother’s Day and even at a relatively early hour, the lot was full of cars. My nightmare. We started our walk down the dirt trail and at the first fork in the trail, decided to stay left since the last time I was hear I had hiked the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail counterclockwise. This would mean that we would hike the Beaver Brook trail first and then end the lollipop loop on the Chavez Trail.
As we worked our way around 5 mile loop, I took out my camera to snap some pictures. I took a couple and my battery died. No problem, I had my backups in my backpack. I rustled around the backpack trying to find the small pouch where I kept them. No dice. Neat! Another hike on the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail with no camera. It almost felt as if I was not meant to review this damn place.
Frustrated as all hell, I swore a couple of times while Jackie tried to calm me down. Luckily, its 2017 and we both had camera phones so I could at least snap some pictures on there. Turns out, I can’t even remember that though because my phone was conveniently at home, charging. Double win. Jackie volunteered her phone, but lets be honest, what even is the point of taking pictures on an iPhone 6? Are those even real photos? Can people still see them? Begrudgingly, I thanked her and we continued on with our hike.
As we lost elevation and worked north west, the trail slowly worked through a quiet forest down to a series of streams. This was my favorite part of the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail and one I had planned on taking some long exposure photos at. Still salty several months later? You bet. The last time I had hiked this, much of the water was frozen over so the stream crossings were relatively painless. Now however, all of the streams were in full blown spring melt and had very high levels of water. There was a small system of bridges back on this section of the hike, but there were many spots that did not have a bridge in place and involved a DYI bridge system. Juno was having none of that and just decided to run right through the water. Couldn’t wait to get her mud covered legs back into the car.
Eventually, we cleared this section of the loop and made our way back up the Chavez Trail. The Chavez Trail section of the hike was much steeper, so we took our time working out of the valley and back towards the trailhead. We ran into several other groups of hikers along the way and by the time we got back to the parking lot, it was chalk full of cars. I was very glad that we had started a bit earlier to avoid many of these groups.
Even though my luck on the Beaver Brook & Chavez Trail has not been good, I really did enjoy this hike. With a location right next to I70, you would expect a loud hike with little scenery. However, this loop is far from that. After a mile of hiking you leave the noise of the busy interstate behind and enter into a peaceful tree covered valley. Once you reach the northwest section of the trail, you are emerged into a lush peaceful valley where you can easily find a spot to sit and enjoy nature. I would highly recommend this hike for Colorado residents and visitors alike.