Acorn Creek Loop is a moderately trafficked hiking trail between Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir that is the quintessential mountain hike. You’ll hike through pine forests and aspen groves, wildflowers meadows and creeks, and you’ll also get to enjoy beautiful mountain views of the Gore Range and the valley beyond. Spring hits the mountains at different times each year depending on snow pack and late season snow, but we’ve found that late June seems to be peak for this elevation. Being slightly lower than Frisco and Breckenridge, the snow disappears earlier in the season and there’s tons of wildflowers, including a massive meadow of wild sunflowers. There’s also plentiful mountain roses, columbine, and more.
Coming either east or west on I-70, you’ll exit for Silverthorne/Dillon and head north at the traffic light. Continue north through and past Silverthorne for about 15 miles then take a right onto Ute Park Rd / County Road 2400. Keep left at the fork in the road onto Rodeo Drive and continue about 1 mile to the trailhead parking. There’s an obvious dirt parking area with a large poster for area hiking information. This is also the trailhead for Acorn Creek, Acorn Creek to Ute Peak, and Acorn Creek Trail. This review is specifically for Acorn Creek Loop, which is significantly shorter and easier than the other trails in the area.
Rocky Mountain Columbine wildflower, which is also the Colorado state flower.
Hiking Acorn Creek Loop
Because Acorn Creek Loop is a loop (and not out and back) you can complete this trail either clockwise or counter-clockwise. If you go clockwise, you’ll have a longer, but less steep ascent to the viewpoint, and the view will be the last main attraction on the hike. If you go counter-clockwise, you’ll have a steep but shorter ascent to the viewpoint then the rest of the trail will be mostly downhill. We personally prefer going counter-clockwise, as this puts you at the viewpoint first, and you have some minor exposure earlier in the day when storm chances are lower.
It’s important to remember that in order to stay on this trail, you must take a right at the first split in the trail. The other more difficult trails are the left fork, so going in the wrong direction would put you on a completely different hike. The second fork you reach is the split for the loop. You’ll know you’re there because when you’re facing the split, there’s a wildflower meadow between the split and forest on your left and right. Going left (slightly uphill) goes clockwise and going right (steep uphill) goes counter-clockwise.
Going counter-clockwise, you’ll find the ascent to be steep and challenging, but shorter than if you had gone the other direction. Hiking up to the viewpoint, you’ll find lots of wildflowers and just before the view is a massive wild sunflower meadow. We hiked this trail on June 30th and the sunflowers were just slightly past peak, but all the other flowers were in their peak. At the top of the sunflower field is a grove of aspens. The shade here provides the perfect spot for a snack so you can sit and soak in the amazing view of the Gore Range across the valley. Known for its sharp points and difficult hikes, the Gore Range is quite dramatic and is very beautiful.
Viewpoint above the wild sunflower field looking west at the Gore Range.
Continuing on through the aspen grove, you’ll start your downhill descent that continues for most of the remainder of the hike. You’ll walk through more aspens, as well as a significant amount of pine forest. There’s several small and manageable stream crossings that add to the fun. Keep an eye out for all the wildflower meadows, as well as tons of flowers near the multiple creeks that flow through the area.
- This hike is mostly shaded, but does have some exposure near the viewpoint. Bring layers and always carry a rain jacket and wear sunscreen.
- All Trails says this trail is 4.7 miles, but our GPS came in around 5.5 miles. Either way, be prepared for moderate difficulty but it’s well worth the effort.
- As with most trails, dogs should be leashed at all times.
- This is also a great early season hike when the mountains at higher elevations may not be clear of snow yet. The north side of the loop is the last portion to lose its snow, and we’ve been turned around here before when we’ve gone too early in the summer season.
- With all the creeks, there can be lots of mosquitos. Bring and wear bug spray!
Acorn Creek Loop is one of our favorite trails in the area and we frequently bring friends and visitors since it’s a great representation of the Colorado mountains with its wildflowers, meadows, aspen groves, pine forest, and an incredible view of the Gore Range. It’s not overly difficult but is just hard enough to wear you out. Check out our YouTube page (below) for a video of our hike on the loop.