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Golden Gate Canyon State Park Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.3 (32) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

13.2

Miles

21.3

KM

88%

Runnable

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.

Runner Notes

The trails do cross some roads where there are rest areas with water and bathrooms. I felt like even though the trails are well marked there was still some navigation required, and would recommend a map or the Trail Run Project mobile app. There is a spring that was running strong in mid May near the end of this loop just past the Greenfield Meadow camping areas at the top of the Horseshoe Trail. You can camp in the park.

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 run 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

  4.3 from 32 votes

#345

Overall
  4.3 from 32 votes
5 Star
38%
4 Star
56%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#72

in Colorado

#345

Overall
64 Views Last Month
9,832 Since May 15, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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

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
The last stretch to Bootleg Bottom Parking
Jun 27, 2020 near Central…, CO
Easy singletrack
Apr 4, 2018 near Coal Creek, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Minor Issues 15 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Dec 27, 2020
Rassa Ahmadi
Oct 17, 2020
Jess Murdzek
windy, chilly, trail was dry 13mi — 3h 35m
Jun 27, 2020
Ghislain S
I love this trail! In some spots the trail is easy to lose though. Also, the loose rocks on parts of Black Bear Trail are not ankle friendly. 21.5mi — 2h 49m
Sep 5, 2019
Matt A
Great little run! It has a bit of everything for everyone. Views, meadows, rock hopping, the variety keeps coming and makes for an enjoyable time. 13.2mi — 3h 50m
Aug 13, 2019
Lydia Rose
Gorgeous. Only 2-3 tiny mud spots 14.2mi — 4h 30m
Aug 10, 2019
Josh M
Aug 6, 2019
Scott Coburn
13.1mi
Jun 24, 2019
Kelly Pierson
Snuck in a good run between rainstorms. Trails were a bit wet in spots but overall a great day! 13.7mi — 2h 40m