Dawson Butte Ranch

Dawson Butte is a butte formation located between Castle Rock and Larkspur along Tomah Road. The Butte site at the west side of an open space in Douglas County. This trail is a great trail for Mountain Bikes, Hiking, and Running and Horseriding.

Altitude Profile
TrailHead Coordinates
Start Elevation
7130 ft
Highest Elevation
7640 ft
Lowest Elevation
7130 ft
Elevation Gain/Chg
900/1800 ft
Current Weather
Latest Palmer Lake, Colorado, weather

Trailhead / Access

The trailhead is about 1.5 west of the frontage road along I25 between Larkspur and Castle Rock on Tomah Road.If you are coming from the south, exit I25 at Tomah Rd, cross the highway and drive north on the Frontage Road for about 2 miles. Turn left on Tomah Road and go 1.5 miles, the trailhead is right after the sharp left curve, on the right side. If you are coming from the north, you can exit I25 at Plum Creek Road and take the Frontage Road south for about 5 miles to Tomah Road. This is a popular spot for horses riding so the trailhead has a number of spots for trailers up front and car parking to the back.

Trail Summary

The trail is a loop with the counterclockwise direction starting at the west end of the lot and the clockwise direction near the portable toilet on the south side of the lot. The counter clockwise direction will have the easier terrain first with the last mile or so being more open with the most climbing. The loop is just about 5 miles and consists of a wider single track for most of the trail. It is rolling with a small decent overall to about 3.5 miles then climbs back up to the parking area from there.

Following the course in the counter clockwise direction, the course is mostly treed with stands of Lodgepole Pine trees offering shade along the way. At about 1+ miles you arrive at the butte area. The butte itself is off limits for hiking but you will cross below as you swing from west to a more southerly direction. This is a gentle trail so it appeals to most outdoor enthusiasts. As you follow the course, you will see a number of jumps for the horses and some side trails that they use. I have seen some comments that downgrade the trail because of horse dropping but I do not think it all that much of a problem. Just be sure to observe the rule of giving right of way to the horses.

Personal Notes

I have debated with myself as to the best direction to follow. The map provided by Douglas County marks the mileage counter clockwise. Going this way, the steeper climb is at the end of the loop, and going the other way, it is a more gradual climb at the end but for a longer distance. The key in my thinking is that it is more exposed in the later part of the trail going counter clockwise and likely to be warmer so I think I would usually choose to go clockwise to have the shade as the heat of the day and effort build.