One of the more popular trails in Colorado National Monument, the serpents trail takes visitors along an old roadway for views over the surrounding area. This post hopefully will help you decide if it’s the right trail for you, with details on the hike, parking, and more.
About the Serpents Trail
Distance: 3.5 miles | Type: Out & Back | Avg. Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs. | Difficulty: Moderate | Dog Friendly: No
The Serpents Trail is one of the most popular trails in Colorado National Monument. The trail follows an old road that winds its way up the hill from the current Monument Road in the Park. This makes it a pretty smooth and wide trail and one that is well marked.
The trail rises from the lower end of monument road to a point higher up. It’s a pretty steady ascent up the trail which I think keeps it pretty moderate in terms of difficulty. The trail has several great views of the surrounding area with some lovely overlooks. There is even opportunity to see some wildlife such as bighorn sheep.
Overall my opinion is the trail is pretty average in terms of views of the National Monument. I think it’s a fine trail to hike, but there are certainly better options such as the canyon rim Trail, Otto’s Trail, Monument Trail, or even nearby Devil’s Kitchen.
The trail is overall pretty popular as there was a steady flow of folks along the trail as I hiked.
Serpents Trail Trailhead & Parking
The main trailhead and parking for the Serpents trail is located directly following the Entrance Station on Monument Road. There are two areas for parking, the Devil’s Kitchen parking area located next to the Devil’s Kitchen Trail (across the street from Serpents Trail).
The other parking is in the Devil’s Kitchen Picnic Area. There is a small trail next to the picnic area that leads to the Serpents Trail trailhead.
Beyond these two parking areas, there is an additional one that is very small further up the road on Monument road adjacent to the tunnel. This parking area is for the “upper” portion of the trail. In this case you’ll be hiking down and then back-up to the parking area. This parking area is very limited, so I would recommend the above ones.
Best Time to Do the Hike
The trail is pretty convenient to do all year round. The width and difficulty of the trail makes it relatively easy to do in any season and even in the winter there are no particularly tricky spots on the trail as well.
Summers on the trail are hot as is the general condition of Colorado National Monument. This trail, while it does have elevation gain, is pretty steady and the trail itself is rocky in points, given that it’s an old road, but there are no difficult rocky areas or scrambling necessary.
Spring and Fall are great times to hike the trail, with fall the best in particular. The weather is generally milder in the fall which makes for great conditions on the trail.
Winters can be cold, snowy, and icy. The trail itself is fine to hike in the winter, but you may want to consider proper footwear such as snowshoes or microspikes depending on conditions.
The Serpents Trail Hike
The Serpents trail trailhead is off the road some. From where you park, If you are at the Devils Kitchen Trailhead, you will go across the street and look for a sign. Or if you are in the Picnic area, head to the east side and look for a trail.
The trail here is pretty wide. You can tell pretty easily that it’s an old road. Most of the trail is like this below, just rocky, wide, and without much of a great view.
You’ll have a few spots where you can get some lovely views over the canyon area. This isn’t sadly the most scenic of the views on the park. You’ll get those from some of the trails on Rim Road.
About a mile into the hike, keep an eye on your right. The cliffs down here seem to be a good spot to catch bighorn sheep. I saw several on the way up and then even more on the way down!
But that’s about it. You can keep heading up this trail. It seems to get a bit smoother as you get higher in the hike.
At about 1.7 miles you’ll reach the small parking area on the upper serpent trail. You’ll see another trailhead sign that signifies that it’s the upper trailhead.
Beyond that you can get some views of the exit of the tunnel road and area. And really that’s it. From here you just take the road back down to the lower trailhead if you parked there.
Tips & FAQs
- There’s a lot more parking at the lower trailhead. You can park either at the Devil’s Kitchen trailhead or picnic area.
- Wear sunscreen or sun blocking clothing. There’s no shade on the trail.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife. I noticed a lot of folks just walking by but there is good opportunity to see bighorn sheep in particular.
- If you are short on time, there are better hikes in the park to explore. I found it pretty average in views compared to others, such as Otto’s Trail or the Canyon rim trail.