Golden Gate Canyon State Park Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,232' 680 m
Descent: -2,230' -680 m
High: 9,493' 2,893 m
Low: 8,228' 2,508 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 42% (23°)
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“High altitude trail hiking with steeper terrain and scenic mountain views.”— Jeff Williams
Just a short distance down the road, park at the next pullout. I parked there just before the Horseshoe TH. There were plenty of spaces.
You'll start the loop from the parking area heading up the Black Bear Trail. It starts off with some pretty good climbing and stays pretty consistent, occasionally leveling off a little but remaining pretty much uphill in this first section. Stay on this for about 2.5 miles until you hit the the Mule Deer Trail on the left. You'll stay on the Mule Deer Trail for the majority of the rest of the loop.
The trail drops down to the road and after crossing the road at the Ole Barn Knoll parking area, the trail mellows out from the previous climbing and technical sections and becomes less technical and more gradual climbing through more open meadows. You'll head right on the trail from the Ole Barn Knoll.
Continue on the Mule Deer Trail all the way to Panorama Point. This is a about 3-4 miles from that pull out at Ole Barn Knoll. As you get closer to Panorama Point the trail does begin to climb more steeply and is on wider trails.
Panorama Point has a deck and viewing area and provides views of the surrounding mountains. It's a nice place for a stop. There is a rest room.
From there, you'll stay in the Mule Deer Trail and wind around through some forested areas, and will then gradually descend to some meadow areas. There are some fast semi-technical sections on the way down to the meadow areas at around the 10-11 mile mark.
This marks the end of the Mule Deer Trail, and from here you want to head down Horseshoe Trail. There are some campsites in this area and there are some trail options throughout these. You'll be looking for the Horseshoe Trail and as you pass the campsites. The trail winds though some aspen groves and eventually the trail opens into a more rough doubletrack type section all the way down to the parking area just below where you started. You'll have to hike a very short distance back up to your car.
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