One minute off I-25 in Castle Rock sits the Challenge Hill, a 200-stair lung buster that is ideal for an intense cardio workout, hiking training, or a quick, scenic hike with the family. The Challenge Hill is only a small part of Philip S. Miller Park, which also includes miles of trails, other activities, and many amenities at your disposal. 

The Basics: The Challenge Hill, or as I like to call it, the Mini-Incline, is a shrunken version of its big brother to the south in Manitou. However, don't let its relatively small 200 stair count fool you - this hill is a serious workout! Located in Philip S. Miller Park, just one minute off I-25 in Castle Rock, the Challenge Hill is merely a small part of this brand-new city park and sports complex. There are 8 more miles of winding trails, plenty of parking, heated bathrooms open year round, ziplines, playgrounds, picnic areas, a turf field, and a large indoor sports complex. My favorite use of the Challenge Hill is to stretch my legs on the drive to/from Denver with a 30 minute high-intensity effort. It is also a great way to get in shape for hiking bigger mountains, to avoid the crowds and paid parking at the Manitou Incline, or to do a quick workout while the kids are playing sports elsewhere in the park.

The Run: After parking directly at the base of the staircase, I recommend a jog around the paved oval as a warm-up. It's possible to run the entire 200 stairs, but its length and difficulty is deceiving while you're ascending. The stairs become steeper and closer together after the halfway point. At the top, while your heart rate returns below 180 BPM, soak in the 360-degree views of Castle Rock, Pikes Peak, and all the mountains to the West. From the summit, you can either jog directly down the stairs for round two, or choose the meandering half-mile trail back down to the start. Do the Challenge Hill as many times as your lungs and legs allow, or mix it together with the 8 miles of singletrack shown in the trail map. After your workout, hop right back into your car and continue with your day - it's free, quick, more difficult, and definitely more fun than going to the gym!

The Area: As previously mentioned, Philip S. Miller Park provides so many other things to do, including trail running and mountain bike races throughout the year. The city of Castle Rock, predominantly a commuter city for Denver, has its own draws such as a quaint downtown and expansive outlet shopping mall. Pick up all your fitness and running essentials at The Outlets, which are being expanded in 2017 to become one of the largest malls in the country. 

Pack List


  • Running/hiking shoes
  • Water (keep a bottle at the bottom or in your car)


  • Snack and change of clothes in the car
  • Trail map
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
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RT Distance 0.6 Miles
Elevation Gain 200 Feet
Activities Chillin, Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

Love Live Live This!

I climb this at least 3x a week. Its beautiful at the top early in the morning or right before dusk. It's clean and has a nice switchback along aside it. It gets very busy on weekends but everyone is courteous about moving to the side if necessary.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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