Lake Perimeter Trail, Barr Lake State Park, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Lake Perimeter Trail - 8.9 miles

Barr Lake State Park

A mule deer wanders the receding winter shoreline of Barr Lake

A mule deer wanders the receding winter shoreline of Barr Lake

Round-Trip Length: 8.9 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,130' - 5,130' (5,148' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +18' net elevation gain (+136' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lake Perimeter Trail - 8.9 Miles Round-Trip

Barr Lake State Park is located in Brighton, northeast of downtown Denver in Colorado's eastern plains. Trail Map | Photos

Barr Lake attracts over 350 migratory and resident avian species including white pelicans, great blue herons, cormorants, egrets, bald eagles, golden eagles and several types of hawks and falcons.

Barr Lake is also home to coyote, badger, fox, rabbit, mule deer and white tail deer - one of few places in the Denver front range where these two commingle.

Before settlement, Barr Lake was a deflation basin used by buffalo as a wallow. In the 1880s a dam was built on its north side, and water was diverted from the South Platte River to fill the newly formed Oasis Reservoir.

After years of degradation, a massive flood in 1965 diluted pollution and gave the state a chance to restore its natural purity and habitat. Colorado purchased surrounding lands in 1975 and designated it a State Park.

Several trails begin at the Barr Lake Nature Center: the Lake Perimeter Trail is the park's longest, an 8.9 mile multi-use loop around the lake and Wildlife Refuge. Its level, graded track is ideal for runners, families and winter recreation. The following description travels clockwise on the loop:

Cross the bridge and turn left into the Wildlife Refuge. The Lake Perimeter Trail runs level around the lake's southeast shore through tall rows of cottonwood.

Skip the first Fox Meadow Trail spur in favor of the second, a quick detour that leads to a wildlife viewing blind and spotting scope (1.05 miles : 5,128').

The Gazebo Boardwalk Trail spur (1.3 miles : 5,125') leads out to the lake's marshy shore with excellent views of a rookery (breeding ground) through a spotting scope.

The main trail continues along the perimeter over an inlet stream, (2.25 miles : 5,126'), just past which is a bald eagle nesting and viewing area. The trail eases up the northwest shore and exits the Wildlife Refuge Boundary (4.5 miles : 5,106').

Here the woods and wetlands yield to a more suburban setting, and the trail follows a gritty train track from 4.75 miles - 5.15 miles. You'll reach the Barr Lake Dam in 5.9 miles (5,122') and have the option of walking along a berm (the Crest Trail) or beside it on the main path.

See Worth Noting below for important information and restrictions on this section.

The Barr Lake Dam forms the lake's northeast shore, stretching 1.35 miles from end to end. Once over (7.25 miles : 5,124'), it curls south and traces the shore past the boat ramp (7.8 miles) and Pioneer Trail spur (8.25 miles) back to the Nature Center to complete the loop (8.9 miles).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 56.288 W104 45.129 — Nature Center Trailhead
  • N39 55.894 W104 45.732 — .9 miles : Fox Meadow Trail spur #1
  • N39 55.903 W104 45.869 — 1.05 miles : Fox Meadow Trail - wildlife viewing blind
  • N39 55.861 W104 46.131 — 1.3 miles : Gazebo Boardwalk Trail spur
  • N39 55.581 W104 46.524 — 2.0 miles : Level travel through Wildlife Refuge
  • N39 55.562 W104 46.763 — 2.25 miles : Trail bends right ; enter eagle viewing are
  • N39 56.379 W104 47.095 — 3.5 miles : Level travel through Wildlife Refuge
  • N39 56.784 W104 46.399 — 4.5 miles : Exit Wildlife Refuge
  • N39 57.396 W104 46.002 — 5.5 miles : Pass through parking lot to continue loop
  • N39 57.652 W104 45.694 — 5.9 miles : Begin travel on Dam (Crest Trail)
  • N39 57.030 W104 44.468 — 7.25 miles : End Dam travel
  • N39 56.845 W104 44.899 — 7.8 miles : Boat Ramp
  • N39 56.552 W104 44.714 — 8.25 miles : Pioneer Trail spur
  • N39 56.288 W104 45.129 — 8.9 miles : Nature Center Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Dogs are not permitted in the Wildlife Refuge area of Barr Lake State Park.

  • The Wildlife Refuge stretches 4.5 miles from the Nature Center Trailhead, making an out-and-back on the Lake Perimeter Trail equidistant to the complete loop.

  • Visitors not intent on completing the 8.9 mile loop or those visiting when hunting restrictions apply should opt for clockwise travel, as the Wildlife Refuge section of the loop is appreciably more attractive.

  • Travel on the Crest Trail or beside the dam is prohibited on Wednesdays and Saturdays during waterfowl hunting season. Visitors during this time will not be able to complete the loop. Horses are not permitted on the Crest Trail at any time, and must stay on the Lake Perimeter Trail, which runs just below it.

  • Binoculars are highly recommended. The Nature Center has several pair on loan for the public.

  • This is a fragile habitat. Remain on designated trails at all times and keep a respectful distance from wildlife.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There are no designated campgrounds at Barr Lake State Park. Dispersed camping is not permitted.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted in designated areas at Barr Lake State Park. A valid Colorado fishing license is required.

  • You may fish from the shore or registered small boat on the north side of Barr Lake. Fishing is not permitted in the Wildlife Refuge or from the Barr Lake Dam.

  • Rainbow trout, walleye, small and large-mouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, wiper and tiger muskie are among species that have been stocked at Barr Lake by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Review the current Colorado Fishing Regulations for special restrictions.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $7 fee to enter Barr Lake State Park.

  • Dogs are permitted at Barr Lake State Park, but restricted to certain areas. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Dogs are not permitted in the Wildlife Refuge located within the southern half of the lake.

  • Horses, bicycles, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are permitted on the Lake Perimeter Trail.

  • Horses are not permitted on the Crest Trail (the dam); an alternative passage runs just below it to the north.

  • Swimming is not permitted at Barr Lake State Park.

  • Waterfowl hunting is permitted during legal waterfowl seasons and only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Hunting is restricted to blinds located north of the dam, and registration is required. Reservations can be made between 2 days and 2 weeks in advance of the hunting date. Contact the park office for current hunting restrictions and information. No other hunting or trapping is permitted in the park.

Directions to Trailhead

Barr Lake State Park is located in Brighton, Colorado, just northeast of downtown Denver.

From E-470
Take Exit 34 (120th Ave) and travel .5 miles east to Tower Road. Turn left on Tower Road and follow it 3.0 miles to Picadilly Road (note that Tower Road will bend and seamlessly become 128th). Make a left on Picadilly Road and follow it 1.1 miles to the Barr Lake State Park entrance on the left.

From Denver
Take I-76 northeast, exit on Bromley Lane. Go east to Picadilly Road, then south to the park entrance.

Contact Information

Barr Lake State Park and Wildlife Refuge
13401 Picadilly Road
Brighton, CO 80603
Phone: 303.659.6005
barr.lake@state.co.us

Office Hours: 9AM - 4PM Wed - Sat, and 11AM - 4 PM Sun. Closed Mon and Tues
Park Hours: 5AM - 10PM

Rocky Mountain Bird Observarory
303.659.4348

Trip Reports

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