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Golden Gate Canyon State Park Loop

Difficult

Trail

13.2 mile 21.3 kilometer loop
88% Runnable
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 with improvements by A R

High altitude trail running 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 $8 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 $8 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.

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Check-Ins

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
Jun 23, 2019
Emily Holland
So beautiful! What a lovely run. Great views, so many aspen groves and not really that busy. Only saw a few folks the whole time. 13.3mi — 3h 33m
Jun 10, 2019
Aaron Stamper
Steep and difficult with the altitude . 13mi — 3h 10m
Apr 27, 2019
Arthur Shune
13.2mi — 2h 30m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 25 votes

#359

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

#73

in Colorado

#359

Overall
90 Views Last Month
7,956 Since May 15, 2016
Difficult

0%
48%
52%
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
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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