RT Length: 17.42 miles
Elevation Gain: 4099’
I’ve been asked to write up a trip report on the Dixon Trail from a few different people, but I was waiting until the conditions were right to take this hike. Contrary to popular belief, the Dixon Trail DOES NOT go to they top of Cheyenne Mountain: a reporter erroneously stated it did when the trail first opened, and the falsehood unfortunately stuck. This reporter obviously never hiked the trail before writing their article.
To start this hike I paid the $9 State Park entrance fee at the ranger station, and parked in the Limekiln parkin area of Cheyenne State Park. There was only one other vehicle parked in the lot when I arrived. I was on the trail at 6am.
The trail starts at the west end of the parking area, in between the bathrooms and information sign. I could immediately tell this was a mountain bike friendly park: there was even a station to fix bike tires.
At the start of the trailhead there was a register specifically for people hiking the Dixon Trail.
And a lot of signage. This park has tons of signs…
A word of advice: Even though this park has tons of signage, it’s obvious the area was designed for mountain bikers and not hikers: The trails aren’t efficient, and instead meander and do not take a direct line to the intended destination. It’s a good idea to have a GPX file for this route (message me if you need one) because, while overall you want to head west to gain the ridge, you’ll often times be heading south or north instead.
There are many ways you can get to the Dixon Trail from the Limekiln parking area. This is the route I took:
- Yellow / Talon Trail
- Green / North Talon Trail
- Pink / Dixon Trail
- Teal / Dragon’s Backbone Trail
- Orange / Mountain Loop Trail
- Pink / Dixon Trail
- Followed the trail back via Green then Yellow trails
There are trail markers the entire way, indicating which route you’re on. I started by crossing the bridge, and following the Yellow / Talon Trail
Here’s a look at the Yellow/Talon Trail
There were a lot of information plaques
The terrain changed from prairie to scrubland and eventually to evergreen
After hiking for 2.75 miles I turned right onto the Green / North Talon Trail. There’s a 3 day junction here, where the yellow trail ends and the red and green trails begin.
I continued following the Green / North Talon Trail for about half a mile until it came to the Pink / Dixon Trail. This is where the switchbacks start, and unfortunately, don’t let up.
I hiked a total of around 3.5 miles to get to the start of the Dixon Trail. Here’s the start of the Dixon Trail
The Dixon Trail is 4.5 miles long (each way), and conveniently has mile markers every .5 miles.
After hiking for 2.5 miles on the Dixon Trail I came to what I initially thought was a camping area. Once I read the sign however, I realized it was a place to park your bikes/horses, as they aren’t allowed any further on the trail.
This sign makes the hike sound harder than it is. There are so many switchbacks and it’s mostly in the shade, so it wasn’t actually that difficult
The rest of this hike takes place in the pine trees.
Between markers 3-3.5 miles on the Dixon Trail I came upon pieces left over from plane wreck in 1957
There were bits and pieces of the plane strewn about the area. I was surprised no one had taken them, as some were easy enough to carry.
I continued following the trail north, through an aspen grove
The snow on the trail started picking up, and would be present for the rest of the hike
It was my goal today to take the Teal / Dragon’s Backbone trail. Here’s the cutoff
From here on out there were still signs, but there was also pink surveyor’s tape on the trees, making this an easy route to follow.
I gained the ridge and immediately came upon “Dragon’s Backbone”, an unranked peak
From there, I followed the ridge north, towards “Robbers Roost”, another unranked peak. There was a trail the entire way, with signs and markers indicating the route.
I came upon this sign (which talks about weather, lightening, etc.), turned east (right) and scrambled to the top. I’d consider this a quick but committing class 4 scramble, especially with snow.
The top is flat
And has some great views!
Here’s looking back on the Dragons Backbone Trail
I climbed back down, grabbed my stashed gear (I hadn’t worn my pack for the short climb to the top) and decided to climb another outcropping to see if it was higher (it wasn’t).
I did get a good view of “Robbers Roost” though
I climbed down and continued heading north on the trail, making this a loop.
I decided to take the Orange / Mountain Loop Trail
This gave me a little extra elevation, and mileage
They obviously don’t want you going by any of the communications towers
I circled back around to some aspens
And the end of the Mountain Loop Trail, the beginning of the Dixon Trail (or end, depending on how you look at it) and the Dixon Homestead site.
I followed the Dixon Trail back to the crash site
And continued following the Dixon Trail back the way I’d hiked in. Here are some pictures of the way back
Then back to the green trail
And the yellow trail
I took the Yellow / Talon Trail back to the trailhead
I made it back to the (now full) trailhead at 12:30pm, making this a 17.42 mile hike with 4099’ of elevation gain in 6.5 hours