Trail Snapshot: Beaver Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park
|Hike Distance||2.3 miles|
|Duration||Approx 1 hr|
|Elevation Gain||Approx +1050′|
|Seasons||Best hiked May to October|
|Dogs||Allowed on 6′ Leash|
|Hike Trail Map||Click for a Map of Golden Gate Canyon Trails|
|Denver Drive Time||45 min|
|Driving Directions to Visitor Center||Click for Google Map|
|Town Nearest Hike||Golden, Colorado|
|Beauty||Views of Continental Divide, Treamont Mountain and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, steep inclines, wildflowers, aspen trees<|
|Activities||Hiking, photography, snowshoeing in winter, picnic area, reservable camping shelter|
|Fee||Colorado State Parks Pass Required|
Parking & Trailhead Information for the Beaver Loop Hike
The Hike: The Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon
The Visitor Center at Golden Gate is worth exploring. Kids will be fascinated by the trout in the man-made creek and small pond surrounding the building. The Beaver Trail can be picked up just South of the Visitor Center by taking one of the paths around the perimeter of the building. The trail begins under the powerlines on the opposite side of Golden Gate Canyon road. Exercise caution crossing the road as vehicles may be descending the hill and not be looking out for pedestrians. Be alert for cyclists, as they frequent the road and come down the hill at high speeds.
At the first trail fork, hikers have the option of taking the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. I hiked this clockwise, taking the trail towards the shelter. The clockwise route offers a more gentle ascent, but steep descent on the back side of the loop. Taking it counter-clockwise will mean a steeper ascent and a more gentle descent on the way back, which is probably easier on the knees, but a more demanding climb.
You’ll notice that the State Park trail map rates this trail as “most difficult.” It’s important to note that these ratings are relative to the other trails in the park. I ‘ve classified the Beaver Loop as medium/moderate because, while it does have over 1000’ of elevation gain, it is only a 2.3-mile hike. Add about 3/4 of a mile if you make the out-and-back trip out to Slough Pond. See our Hikes by Difficulty page for more hikes and the basic criteria we use to classify hikes. It should be noted that difficulty will differ by persons, so be sure to review the details of a hike before attempting it.
At approximately 1 mile into the loop, hikers will encounter a sign (pictured above) pointing to a 0.5-mile spur trail leading to a backcountry shelter. A permit is required to camp here and can be purchased online at the Golden Gate Canyon fees page. Continuing on the loop, the trail will soon lead to an overlook of views to the West. During most of the year, snow-capped peaks appear above a verdant green valley in these western foothills.
After the overlook, the trail begins a steep descent. I had brought my trekking poles (I always bring them), and was glad that I did. I would imagine that this trail gets slicked over with ice and hardened snow during the winter, making it really difficult to navigate. The trail then leads down to an intersection with the Slough Pond trail.
At this intersection at the bottom of the hill, you have the option of making the trip over to Slough Pond. The hike over to Slough Pond is pleasant and mostly flat. At the pond, a quaint creek flows out of the pond and under a footbridge. Slough Pond is a popular fishing spot and a great place for kids to learn to bait a hook. As mentioned above, adding this out-and-back segment to the hike, makes this closer to a 3 mile hike.
Tips & Resources for Hiking the Beaver Loop Hike
- TIP: Don’t forget to bring food and water along this hike for refuelling.
- TIP: Pick up a paper map at the visitor center before hiking.
- TIP: Trekking poles will be a big help on the steeper portions of the trail. Traction devices are recommended for winter weather..
- Trail Map: Golden Gate Canyon Trail Map
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- After the Hike: Windy Saddle Cafe in Golden, Colorado
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions to Visitor Center