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Golden Gate Canyon State Park Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.2 (33) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

13.2

Miles

21.3

KM

Loop

9,493' 2,893 m

High

8,228' 2,508 m

Low

2,232' 680 m

Up

2,230' 680 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

42%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs Leashed

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 $9 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 $9 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jeff Williams with improvements by A R and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 33 votes

#378

Overall
  4.2 from 33 votes
5 Star
36%
4 Star
55%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#78

in Colorado

#378

Overall
65 Views Last Month
10,835 Since May 15, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
45%
13%
42%
0%

Photos

Views
Apr 4, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
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
Fantastic mountain views on the Mule Deer Trail
Jun 24, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO
The last stretch to Bootleg Bottom Parking
Jun 27, 2020 near Central…, CO
The ridge as you top out on Black Bear Trail.
May 15, 2016 near Coal Creek, CO

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 69 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Jul 3, 2021
Floyd Hartley
Abundant wildflowers 13.4mi — 4h 20m
Mar 29, 2021
Linc Hulbert
Good scenic trail. Water sources little. Mostly in the meadow Areas. Mule Deer trail still has a lot of snow >2ft in parts. Advise snow shoes 15.2mi — 7h 00m
Mar 6, 2021
Garth Lamson
Jul 20, 2020
Patti P
Trails are clear & dry. Note the "natural spring" water source at Greenfield is completely dry and really no other water source other than trailheads 13.2mi — 6h 21m
Apr 29, 2020
Jamie Williams
Took coyote detour 13.8mi — 10h 00m
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