Trail Snapshot: Horseshoe Trail at Golden Gate Canyon Park
- Hike Distance: 3.6 mile RT
- Difficulty: Medium
- Duration: approx 2hr
- Trail Type: Out & Back
- Elevation Gain: +910′
- Seasons: Spring through fall, depending on snow fall
- Dogs: Allowed on Leash
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Golden Gate Canyon Park
- Pass Required: Daily Pass Link Annual State Parks Pass Link
- Denver Drive Time: 50 min
- Directions: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Golden, Colorado
- Beauty: Wildflowers, spruce and fir trees, aspen meadows, big boulders, wildlife, mountain views and running stream along trail.
- Activities: Hiking only trail
- Video: Click For a Video of Golden Gate Canyon Park
Golden Gate Canyon’s Horseshoe Trail is a 3.6 mile out-and-back hike (1.8 miles one-way). We’ve rated it as moderate in difficulty because of the 900+ feet of elevation gain. The Horseshoe Trail is popular because it follows the beds of several small streams, winds through groves of aspen trees, and leads to beautiful meadows, as well as three of Golden Gate Canyon State Park’s backcountry camping areas.
One of the highlights of this trail are the streams that run along it. You’ll find that there are several small bridges to cross as you make your way up the trail. Seasonal streams also mean that sections of the Horseshoe trail will get muddy on after rains and during the Spring melt-water runoff. But water also means wildflowers, and this trail comes alive with them in late Spring through the Summer.
The Horseshoe Trail also leads you to access trails for three of the five Golden Gate Canyon backcountry camping areas. Use this link to the backcountry camping brochure to get details on cost per night and how to make campsite reservations in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The first campsite access trail is at 1.1 miles and will take you to Greenfield Meadows, which has 4 campsites. Continuing on the same spur, you can hike further in to the Frazer Meadow campsite which has 4 campsites and one backcountry shelter. If you continue on the Horseshoe trail, you’ll come upon the access trail for Rim Meadow campsite at 1.3 miles. Rim Meadow also has 4 campsites.
Tips & Resources for Hiking the Horseshoe Trail:
- Park Pass: A Colorado State Park Pass is required to enter Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Check the Golden Gate Canyon Fees page for details on park passes. Some trails offer passes at self-serve dispensers.
- Printed map: The trail forks to the left, make sure to have a printed map on hand which you can pick up at the Visitors Center.
- Bug spray: for hot summer days not a bad idea.
- Sun protection: The trail is often shaded–a rare thing for Front Range hikes–but be sure to bring sun protection because it is almost 4 miles round trip and there are areas exposed to the sun.
- No cell phone: There is no cell phone coverage at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
- Download our Dayhikes Hiking Guide for a day hike packing checklist
- After the Hike: Windy Saddle Cafe in Golden
- Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Trail Map for Golden Gate Canyon State Park: Trail Map Link
A big thanks goes out to Lisa Palmer, a member of our Dayhikes Pathfinder Team, who hiked this trail with her family, gathered the information for the trail profile, and took the photos for this post.
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions