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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lots of wildlife potential, creeks, and wildflowers.