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Golden Gate Canyon State Park Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.4 ( 25 ) Favorite

Trail

13.2 mile 21.3 kilometer loop
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,232' 680 m
Descent: -2,230' -680 m
High: 9,493' 2,893 m
Low: 8,228' 2,508 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 42% (23°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Map Key

Trail shared by Jeff Williams

High altitude trail hiking with steeper terrain and scenic mountain views.

Jeff Williams

Features River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

Golden Gate Canyon is nestled in the mountains and features jagged rock formations, clear running mountain creeks, meadows mixed with steep technical climbs. This route starts lower and goes all the way to Panorama Point before winding its way back down to the start.

Need to Know

There is $7 fee for a day pass at the state park. Dogs are allowed. Temperatures can vary quickly in the mountains. Early season there may still be snow. Expect creeks and possible mud. There are plenty of loop options to make this shorter or even longer.

Description

Pay $7 at the visitor center just near the turn off from Golden Gate Canyon Road. You'll have to park and head up to the visitors center and there is a kiosk area on the deck.

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.

Flora & Fauna

Lots of wildlife potential, creeks, and wildflowers.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, History & Background

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Check-Ins

Sep 20, 2018
JP Jones
Epic fall color hike, very well marked, good diversity of terrain, enjoyed the few trail-side historical narrative boards. 13.2mi — 6h 21m
Jul 31, 2018
Rebecca Falgoust
Jul 14, 2018
Ollie Davis
Jan 1, 2018
Diana S
Sep 30, 2017
Patrick Csongei
hiked a portion of this loop with KB on a beautiful fall day. great fall colors in the park and fantastic views along the trail 6.8mi
Sep 28, 2017
Maren Miller
Sep 5, 2017
Wayne Mock
Aug 19, 2017
Floyd Hartley
14.2mi

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 25 votes

#336

Overall
  4.4 from 25 votes
5 Star
48%
4 Star
44%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Featured Hike Rankings

#74

in Colorado

#336

Overall
264 Views Last Month
7,595 Since May 15, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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48%
43%
9%
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Photos

Some of the most panoramic views of the Continental Divide are east of Panorama Point.
Sep 17, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
Near the end you'll be rewarded with a great view of the ridge you climbed at the beginning.
Sep 17, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
Views
Apr 4, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
Fantastic mountain views on the Mule Deer Trail
Jun 24, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
Easy singletrack
Apr 4, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
Nice views of the Continental Divide just east of the Panorama Point deck/picnic area.
Sep 9, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO

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