The Town of Castle Rock and Douglas County Open Space preserved 716 acres of land known as Hidden Mesa in a joint effort. Their swift actions eliminated the chance for more than a thousand houses to be perched above the rocky outcrops between Castle Rock and Franktown.
Seventy-four acres of this acquisition lies south of Highway 86. This property adjoins Gateway Mesa, for a total of 276 acres of open space that is managed and owned by the Town of Castle Rock. Gateway Mesa is open to hikers with a parking lot and 3.5 miles of trails on the south side of Hwy. 86.
Douglas County manages and owns the 642 acres of land north of Hwy. 86. This adjoins 582 acres of open space one mile north of Franktown, previously referred to as “The Grange” (not to be confused with the Pikes Peak Grange building.) This combined 1224-acre parcel is now referred to as Hidden Mesa Open Space.
The land provides a natural community buffer between Castle Rock and Franktown, as well as maintains largely undisturbed native habitats. Hidden Mesa consists of grasslands, shrublands, forested areas, meadows, wetland ponds, and a riparian area along Cherry Creek. It is populated with coyote, pronghorn, prairie dogs, elk, mule deer, as well as raptors and other bird species.
Douglas County’s Hidden Mesa Open Space provides seven miles of trails and a trailhead. The trails provide access to the Cherry Creek Trail which bisects the property. The trailhead is located one mile north of Franktown on the west side of Highway 83 (Parker Road) for hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders.
Ride or hike this 1224-acre open space buffer between Castle Rock and Franktown. Embark on this soft-surface trail from the trailhead at the old homestead at Parker Road. Follow the farm lane as it crosses over Cherry Creek and then winds up to the top of the mesa where it loops around viewpoints, rock outcroppings, grass and shrublands, as well as pines and junipers.
Trail Rating: Moderately easy in the lower Cherry Creek valley to moderately difficult as you ascend the mesa and traverse over some rocks on the south side of the mesa top and put on some miles.
Trail Length: 4.7 miles of trail, plus trail additions, are natural surface, plus .3 mile of the trail is shared with the Cherry Creek Trail. On a ride or hike up onto the mesa loop and back, you would cover almost 7 miles.
Trail Surface: Natural surface
Uses: Multi-use: horses, mountain bikes and hiking; dogs must be on leash
Amenities: Picnic shelter, port-a-potty, with handicap access and interpretive signs, benches, water spigot, car parking and horse trailer parking for 15 trailers, round pen, unpaved parking lot and flower gardens with crusher fines trails.
Research & Demonstration Orchard: Hidden Mesa has become home to Douglas County’s research and demonstration orchard. The vision for this complex and corresponding program is to expand economic opportunities and strengthen our community by inspiring innovation in scalable agriculture, edible landscapes, gardening, and community gardens and orchards.
Location: Travel one mile north of Franktown on Parker Road (Hwy. 83). It is on the west/left side with a large Hidden Mesa Open Space sign.
Contact: Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources 303-660-7495.
Year Protected: 2002-2003
Acres: 1224 acres owned and managed by Douglas County; 70 acres in private conservation easement; 74 acres Gateway Mesa owned and managed by Castle Rock.
Land Category: Preserve/Wildlife Habitat/Trail Corridor
Conservation: Fee title; 70 acres conservation easement on private property.
Cost: $2,063,152 Douglas County, $284,848 private buyer, $260,000 Parker Water for 2002 part of property $4,475,000 Douglas County, $3,275,000 Town of Castle Rock for 2003 part of property
Partners: Town of Castle Rock, Douglas County, Great Outdoors Colorado and Douglas Land Conservancy
Location: North and south of Hwy 86, between Castle Rock and Franktown South of Castle Oaks Drive by Cherry Creek and west of Parker Road (Hwy 83) one mile north of Franktown.