booth falls near vail header

Booth Creek Falls Hike Near Vail

Booth Creek Falls is a 60-foot waterfall located in the Eagles Nest Wilderness near Vail, Colorado. The journey to the waterfall requires a strenuous, 2-mile hike along the banks of Booth Creek. Explore the full Booth Creek Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Vail.

Trail Snapshot: Booth Creek Falls Near Vail

Parking & Trailhead Information for Booth Creek Falls Hike

To get to the Booth Creek Falls Trailhead from Denver, follow interstate 70 West until you reach East Vail. Take exit 180. At the first intersection, make a right, then an almost immediate left onto the I-70 Frontage Road. After about 1 mile on Frontage road, turn right onto Booth Falls Road. Follow Booth Falls road for about 1/4 mile until it terminates at the trailhead parking area. Space is limited and the trailhead parking likely fills early in the day. The trailhead is near a residential area so please be courteous of those living in the vicinity.

The Hike: Booth Creek Falls Hike

From the trailhead, the trail starts at a steep incline as it follows the course of Booth Creek and passes through the aspen forests and glades of wildflowers that make this part of Colorado famous. In the fall, the changing leaves of the aspens make this hike a favorite. The trail continues on this steady ascent for the first mile, then becomes more gradual.

At around 1.8 miles be on the lookout for a trail sign indicating a side-trail for Booth Creek Falls. You may opt to view the falls from the overlook or proceed down the social trails for a closer experience of the falls. Exercise caution, however, because the area around the falls is steep and social trails are not maintained. As with all trails, conditions can change quickly after rains and weather.

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking Booth Falls Hike

  • TIP: The trailhead may not be directly visible from the parking lot, so walk up the road and find it. It will be located just past the gate.
  • TIP: Hike further up the trail to Booth Lake. This adds 2.4 miles (round trip).
  • Trail Map: Booth Creek Falls 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
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Shannon Dizmang and Brandon Bombaci for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Booth Falls.
  • After the Hike: Loaded Joe’s

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


rolling grassland and gamble oaks in castle rock colorado

Ridgeline Open Space Hike

Ridgeline Open Space is nestled in the Meadows residential area of Castle Rock. This network of over 13 miles of trails winds through elevated grasslands and gamble oak with a backdrop of distant snow-capped peaks of the Front Range. Hike it or bike it for a quick escape from the work week. Explore the full Ridgeline Open Space hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Castle Rock.

Trail Snapshot: Ridgeline Open Space Trail near Castle Rock, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Ridgeline Open Space

From Denver, follow Interstate 25 south to Castle Rock and take Exit 182 and go west on Wolfensberger Road. Turn right onto Coachline and follow this until to Ridgeline Open Space Trailhead (on the left-side of the road). There is a restroom and map at the trailhead. Alternatively, hikers can park at Bison Park in Castle Rock and access one of the several neighborhood access trails that lead into Ridgeline Open Space.

The Hike: Ridgeline Open Space

Ridgeline Open Space is one of our family's favorite places to hike because it's right in our backyard here in Castle Rock. The residents of Castle Rock also use the 13.4 miles of trail for trail running and mountain biking. It's quite a labyrinth of trails, but because it's located right in the heart of a residential area, it's hard to get lost (if you stay on the trail). There are maps posted at several junctions and trailheads along the network in the case you need to reorient yourself. Or print the map from the link above and bring it with you.

trail leading into distance with gamble oak leaves along the ridgeline trail in castle rock

Our approach is usually to go up to Ridgeline for an afternoon and see where the trails take us. You'll likely encounter mountain bikers along the trail. Most are locals and are very considerate of hikers. Less considerate are the rattlesnakes. I've yet to run into one, but my neighbor was stopped short by a rattler recently while trail running. Rattlesnakes are only aggressive when threatened, but they are easy to stumble upon because they are so well camouflaged. So, keep your eyes peeled as you hike. Mountain Lions also frequent the area--like most trails along the Front Range--because of the plentiful deer population. It's wise to always keep your kids near when hiking and not running up the trail ahead on their own. This is just good practice on any trail, but I mention it because we have seen Mountain Lion prints in the mud on one of the western trail segments.

rolling terrain and rock along the ridgeline trail in castle rock

Ridgeline is aptly named because it is situated above the town and offers great views out to Longs Peak, Indian Peaks, Mt. Evans, Devil's Head to the west, and Pikes Peak to the south. Deer bed down in the grass between the gamble oak and birds flit from tree to tree along the trails.

broad green meadows and puffy clouds along the ridgeline trail in castle rock

man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Ridgeline Open Space Trail

  • Rattlesnakes: Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes that sun themselves on rock and the packed, warm surface of the trail.
  • Hiking with Kids: As always, hike as a group, keeping small children near you. Mountain lions live in the area (as with most front-range hikes), and the sight of a small creature running alone on the trail can signal a lion's prey response.
  • Sunscreen: This hike is 100% exposed to the sun's rays, so be sure to wear a hat and apply that sunscreen.
  • More Hikes in Castle Rock Colorado: Castle Rock Trail, Waterfall at Castlewood Canyon, East Plum Creek Trail.
  • Trail Map for Ridgeline Open Space Trail near Castle Rock: Trail Map Link
  • 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: Crave Burgers

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes


St. Vrain Mountain Hike

The St. Vrain Mountain trail is just a 3-mile hike into Indian Peaks Wilderness to stunning views of the rocky peaks of Wild Basin. Hike up and additional 1.5 miles from the RMNP boundary to the summit of St. Vrain mountain for 360-degree panoramic views of a wildflower-laden wilderness. Explore the full St. Vrain Mountain hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more.

Trail Snapshot: St. Vrain Mountain Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for St. Vrain Mountain

parking area at st. vrain mountain trailhead in colorado aspen trees and dirt road

From Denver, take Interstate 25 to either 36 or 66 to Lyons. In Lyons, follow 7 to Allenspark. In Allenspark, turn left onto Ski Road - FR-107. This will be marked with a street sign and a home-crafted sign made out of an old pair of skis. Follow this dirt road as is weaves through Allenspark then a series of dispersed cabins for about 2 miles until the road terminates at the trailhead. There is parking for only about 8 vehicles at the trailhead. There is additional parking along the road, but make sure that you're not blocking cabin drives or tearing up the roadside. You may have to park a ways back down the road if crowded. I hiked this on the weekend and the lot was full around 8 AM. There are not restrooms or potable water at the trailhead.

The Hike: St. Vrain Mountain Trail

cascades among spruce and aspen trees on st. vrain mountain trail in colorado

The hike begins in the shade of aspen, spruce, and lodgepole pine forest. This first segment is easy and gradual, getting steeper as the sounds of distant St. Vrain Creek grow louder and closer. Wildflowers become more prevalent and soon the trail begins to follow right alongside the course of the creek.

view to southeast with green mountains along st. vrain mountain trail in colorado

Then the switchbacks begin. I hiked this in late-May after a Winter when our snowpack was below normal. So it was snow-free until around mile 2. From about mile 2 to mile 3, intermittent snow covered about 3/4 of the trail. I didn't bring snowshoes but had it been early May, I definitely would have needed a pair. Trekking poles were essential for negotiating the trail and to keep from post-holing up to my waist. It could be done without poles, but I'd definitely recommend having them.

above treeline with tundra in distance and short evergreens and blue sky along st. vrain mountain trail in colorado

At treeline, things open up to blue skies and high-country tundra brightened by the many colors of summer wildflowers. In early-May, these were just beginning to bloom. However, come mid-June, the creek alongside the trail and these upper reaches of high-country should be replete with wildflowers.

blue purple and white wildflowers along st. vrain mountain trail in colorado

Once you crest the saddle, the views are outstanding. To the Northwest, the entire Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park opens up before you. To the North, you'll find Meadow Mountain, elevation 11,632'. I met a local from Allenspark along the trail and he said the views from the summit of Meadow Mountain rival those of St. Vrain because of the perspective looking down into the Wild Basin area.

high mountain tundra with peaks of wild basin of rmnp in background along st. vrain mountain trail in colorado

At mile 3, the trail enters Rocky Mountain National Park. From this point, I could see a faint trail in the snow leading up the rounded ridgeline of St. Vrain Mountain. It's about a 1/2 mile hike from the main trail to the summit with about 700 feet of elevation gain.

man hiking up snow covered st. vrain mountain in colorado

elk bedded down in tall grasses of moraine park in rocky mountain national park hike with text overlay explore more hikes in rocky mountain national park

Below is a photo of the map found at the trailhead. I've added a dark-black dashed line to indicate the trail that goes from the junction with the Rock Creek Trail to the summit. The lighter-grey dashed line indicates the path hikers were taking across the snow to the slopes of St. Vrain Mountain. Be sure to hike on durable surfaces (snow, rock, trails) on the summit approach to protect the fragile tundra environment.

wilderness map with trails and topographic information for indian peaks area of colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking St. Vrain Mountain Trail

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

ouzel falls waterfall in rocky mountain national park wild basin hike with text overlay explore more hikes in rocky mountain national park


view from snow covered meadow of front range colorado mountains in butler gulch colorado

Butler Gulch Hike

The Butler Gulch Trail near Berthoud Falls is a moderately difficult out-and-back trail with a balance of shade on the first half and then above treeline with spectacular views of peaks and wildflowers all around. Activities here include stream crossings and steep climbs, and one can visit an old mine above the treeline. This is also a great snowshoeing hike during winter and is a well-known skiing destination. Explore the full Butler Gulch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Berthoud Falls.

Trail Snapshot: Butler Gulch Hike

Parking & Trailhead: Butler Gulch Hike

The Trailhead for Butler Gulch is about 1 hour West of Denver via Interstate 70. Take the exit for Hwy 40/Winter Park (easy to miss) through Empire (be alert for reduced speed limit) up to where US 40 makes a sharp bend to begin climbing up the mountain toward Berthoud Pass. Just before this turn, there is a left-hand turn to take for the Henderson Mine Road. Follow Henderson Mine road for about a mile. It will pass the mining operation and the parking area is just past the mine on the left. The main parking area is the first one you will encounter and it's large. A smaller one is about .25 mile up the road (the road is 4WD after the first lot) is small and fills fast. We recommend parking in the first lot as it is maintained and this will prevent damage to the trailhead.

snowy trail split along butler gulch with arrow pointing to butler gulch trail

From the parking area, hike the 4WD road for about 1/4 mile to where the trail splits. There should be signage here at the fork indicating the Jones Pass Trail goes to the right, and the Butler Gulch Trail goes to the left. Soon, the trail begins to climb through mixed forest of spruce, fir, and aspens. After approximately one mile, a mountain stream nears the trail, forming a quaint meltwater waterfall (right side of trail).

forested snow covered trail along bulter gulch trail

Soon, the trail emerges from the trees into a landscape of snow-capped mountains. This bowl will be replete with wildflowers in the early weeks of Summer. At this point, hikers are exposed to the elements, and during the Summer months, lightning storms can come up without warning in the afternoon. So, keep an eye on the sky. Winter travelers should be alert to avalanche conditions.

snowy peaks at butler gulch in spring

Here in the bowl, the trail has come to about 2.5 miles and a hike back will make this a 5-mile round-trip adventure. Hikers can add a strenous hike up the nearby ridgeline to gain panoramic views on the Continental Divide. When I hiked this in April of 2016, tracks were evident that led past the remains of old mining equipment along the ridge. At the top, the views are absolutely beautiful. It's a great place to take in hundreds of miles of changing aspen trees in the Autumn. The trail map link for Butler Gulch in this post is not the best. Because of this we recommend The Latitude 40 Summit County Trails Map.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Butler Gulch Hike

Weather

Map & Driving Directions

"


Click for Driving Directions

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


morning light on flatirons mountains near boulder taken from ncar on bear canyon loop hike

Bear Canyon Loop Hike at NCAR

The Bear Canyon Loop Hike near Boulder, Colorado is a beautiful trail that spans wide open spaces and meadows near National Center for Atmospheric Research. The Bear Canyon Loop is a relatively easy 3.3-mile loop that features some of the best views of the Flatirons in Boulder. Explore the full NCAR Bear Canyon Loop hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Boulder.

Trail Snapshot: Bear Canyon Loop Trail in Boulder

Parking & Trailhead: Bear Canyon Loop Trail

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Trailhead is located about 40 minutes North of Denver. From Denver, follow U.S. Route 36 to Boulder. Take the exit for Table Mesa Drive and follow it West. It will wind through a neighborhood to the end as it winds through the neighborhood and past Bear Creek Elementary School. The road will turn into the Drive for NCAR which winds up and around to a large parking area at the lab.

The Hike: NCAR Bear Canyon Loop Trail

From the NCAR Parking area, hikers can pick up the NCAR trail just West of the main entrance to the building. The trail heads West, over a small ridge, past a water tank, then to a fork in the trail. Both the left and the right fork are considered the NCAR trail and both will lead to the Table Mesa Trail--but the left fork is shorter. At approximately 0.7-mile into the hike, the NCAR Trail will intersect with the Table Mesa Trail. Straight through takes hikers up on a 0.8-mile hike up to Mallory Cave, but for this loop hike, the correct way is to go left/South onto the Table Mesa trail. This first stretch provides some incredible views of the magnificent Flatirons Formations of Boulder. This trail segment heading south goes in and out of a forest grove, then the trail comes to its second important intersection.

At the Bear Canyon Trail intersection, take a left onto the Bear Canyon Trail which follows Bear Creek as it descends East. At about 1.5 miles into the hike, you'll encounter another fork. You can cut off about 1/4 of a mile of the trail by taking the left-hand segment. But the right-hand trail provides more pleasant scenery along the creek. The trail will near a neighborhood then bend to the North. This straight 0.7-mile stretch follows along the Eastern boundary of NCAR. Eventually, it meets up with the NCAR trail, which will lead back on a 1/2 mile stretch to the parking area.

Tips & Resources for Hiking the NCAR Bear Canyon Loop

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions
girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background


herman gulch hike near idaho springs header

Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike

The Herman Gulch Trail is one of the best summer wildflower hikes near Denver. It's also a challenging winter snowshoe and is often used for cross-country skiing. The Herman Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile (one-way), out-and-back adventure into snowcapped mountain country and provides access to many more trails in Arapaho National Forest. Explore the full Herman Gulch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Herman Gulch Hike, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Herman Gulch

The Herman Gulch Trailhead is located about 20 miles west of Idaho Springs via I-70. From Denver, it's about a 60-minute drive but can take around 1.5 hours in winter ski traffic. The trailhead is located right off Exit 218 by taking a right onto Watrous Way. There are restrooms available at the trailhead. As with all trailheads, but especially those right off the interstate, be sure that your valuables are out of site and locked up. The trail is located in the middle of the parking area, just to the left of the restroom.

herman gulch hike trail

The Hike: Herman Gulch to Herman Lake

From the parking lot, the initial trail segment is steep. But be encouraged, while it's not an easy hike, the trail becomes more gradual as it gains elevation into the widening valley of Herman Gulch. At the trail intersection early in the hike, the trail to Herman Gulch will bear to the left, and a trail that leads to Waterous Gulch will lead to the right. Staying on the Herman Gulch Trail, it will weave in and out of the trees into small meadows with Herman Creek and many meltwater rivulets cascading across the landscape.

Winter may not release its grip on Herman Gulch until mid-summer. For example, all the photos in this trail profile were taken during the first week of June, so prepare for the snow to get increasingly deeper as you progress further on the trail. For this reason, we recommend trekking poles and traction devices for your boots. Also, be aware that at this elevation, thunderstorms often come up quickly on Summer afternoons, bringing dangerous lightning, especially in the open areas of the higher elevations. For this reason, and in order to avoid crowds, it's wise to begin your hike early in the day.

herman gulch hike near idaho springs winter trail

The trail eventually emerges from the trees into a broad alpine landscape where a series of rock cairns leads the way to Herman Lake. This final segment is steep and demanding. The lake is located in a wide bowl beneath the lofty reaches of Pettingell Peak. The lake may be snow-covered through much of June, depending on late-season snowfall. In the early and mid-summer, a series of small meltwater cascades make their way down along the western mountainside into the lake. Be sure to stay the trail as you will be in a fragile alpine ecosystem.

Hiking Herman Gulch in the Winter

Herman Gulch is also a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination. December to March offer the best snowpack for these activities. It's a very different experience when snow has piled up in Herman Gulch and it's even more critical that those venturing into this area have packed their 10 essentials and are dressed appropriately. There are two avalanche chutes on the right-hand side of the trail about 1 mile into the hike that hikers should keep in mind (see ORIC winter map). During this season, do not go above treeline into the higher reaches as these are very much prone to avalanches. It's also important to bear in mind that snowstorms can come up very quickly, even in Spring and Fall, reducing and even eliminating visibility. So be aware and be prepared. Snowshoeing travel speeds are about 1 mile per hour, depending on the person, which is half of hiking speeds. Adjust your travel times accordingly and for early darkness of winter.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Herman Gulch Hike

Weather

;"]

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


Golden Gate Canyon State Park Hiking Trails

6 Hikes in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Located less than an hour from Denver and Boulder, Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a remarkable treasure. The park offers over 30 miles of hiking trails and some of the most accessible backcountry camping opportunities near Denver. Golden Gate is full of seasonal creeks and wildflowers, as well as promontories that open out to views of the snow-capped and lead-blue rock faces of the Rocky Mountains. The park is open year-round; however, during many years, snow may cover trails from as early as October through May. Explore this page to get familiar with several hike options and the camping facilities available in the Park.

raccoon loop trail golden gate canyon state park

Raccoon Loop Trail - Shaded and Family Friendly

Distance: 2.5 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Raccoon Loop Trail is an easy, 2.5-mile loop hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Because it's short and has a variety of scenery, the Racoon Loop makes for an enjoyable hike for families. Most hikes near Denver are quite exposed to the sun, but this hike offers a good deal of shade. The trail boasts panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, glades of aspen trees, wildflowers, and seasonal brooks.

explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

blue grouse trail golden gate canyon state park

Blue Grouse Trail - A Short Adventure

Distance: 1.6 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Blue Grouse Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is another short hike of easy to moderate difficulty. If you are looking for a short adventure to gains views of green foothills and changing aspens, then this is for you. While not a spectacular hike, the Blue Grouse trail is easy to access and can be used as an access point to other trails and camping sites available in the park.

explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

forgotten valley trail golden gate canyon state park

Forgotten Valley Hike - Homestead Ruins

Distance: 3 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate

A favorite destination hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, hikers can put together a segment of the Burro Trail and Mountain Lion trail to access this old homestead and pond situated in Forgotten Valley. Nearby are several reservable campsites and a backcountry shelter, making this area a perfect place to camp before exploring the many miles of trails in the park.
explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

horseshoe trail golden gate canyon state park

Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow

Distance: 3.6 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Another trail to some of Golden Gate Canyon's camping areas, this out-and-back trail takes hikers through Greenfield Meadows and terminates at Frazer Meadow. Much of the trail follows alongside a seasonal creek that runs through the main valley. Aspen trees, meadows, wildflowers, and shaded trail segments are all highlights of this hike in the heart of the park.

explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

beaver loop trail golden gate canyon state park

Beaver Loop Trail

Distance: 2.8 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

The Beaver Loop trail can be picked up right from the visitor center at Golden Gate. It is a 2.8-mile loop with an out-and-back option of hiking over to Slough Pond. While it's a short hike, it requires about 1000' of elevation gain, making it a more demanding hike. Like so many of the hikes in Golden Gate, the Beaver Loop offers a beautiful panorama of distant, snow-capped mountains in the west.

explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

windy peak trail golden gate canyon state park

Windy Peak Trail - A Great Vantage Point

Distance: 6.4 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Another great destination hike, the way up to Windy Peak combines a few trails to create a loop hike with a spur trail leading to the top of Windy Peak. Windy Peak is an incredible vantage point for taking in the snow-capped Rockies and western skies. The eastern segment of this hike is replete with wildflowers during the summer.

explorefulltrailprofile-buttons1

Camping in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon offers a variety of camping options, making the park a great place for those new to backpacking to test their equipment and to get a feel for what a longer trip into the mountains might require. Families looking to try out camping for the first time can car-camp or hike short distances to some of the backcountry sites. All sites require reservation and a Colorado State Parks Pass. There are less demanding options such as cabins and yurts available. All sites, cabins, and campsites can be booked at the Colorado State Park's reservation page. Here's a quick overview of the camping options at Golden Gate Canyon State Park:

  • 20 Backcountry Campsites: Brochure and Map of Backcountry Sites
  • 5 Cabins: Located at Reverend's Ridge, no hike in required, year-round, max occupancy of 6, heated, electricity, water and restrooms nearby, showers available in Summer season
  • 2 Yurts: Located at Reverend's Ridge, No hike-in required, year-round, max occupancy of 6, heated, electricity, water and restrooms nearby, showers available in Summer season
  • 97 Campsites at Reverend's Ridge: No hike-in or short walk required, accommodates campers, trailers, and some RV spaces, limited sites available during Winter months, max occupancy of 6 per site, water and restrooms nearby, showers available in Summer season
  • 35 Campsites at Aspen Meadows: Tent camping only, closed during Winter months, max occupancy of 6 per site, water pump and vault toilets
snowcapped peaks in distance with green foothills in foreground

Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

The Beaver Loop is a moderate 2.3-mile loop hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the West. Add a short segment to Slough Pond to make this a 3-mile hike. Explore the trail profile for a trail map, driving directions, and tips for this hike near Golden, CO

Trail Snapshot: Beaver Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Beaver Loop Hike

From Denver, take US-6 West to Golden. Just outside Golden, US-6 will turn left (West) into Clear Creek Canyon; it's at this intersection that you'll continue North on 93. After 1.3 miles on 93, turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road. Now, prepare for the rest of your drive being pretty windy. After 12.7 miles on Golden Gate Canyon Road, it will intersect with Crawford Gulch Road on a wide curve. Turn right onto Crawford Gulch road and the visitor center for Golden Gate Canyon State Park will be on your immediate right. This is the best parking area for the Beaver Loop. However, the parking here fills up fast, especially on the weekends. Another option is to park at the Ralston Roost Trailhead, located about 0.2 mile further down the road (see the State Park Map Link above). A third option is to begin your hike at Slough Pond. This will add about 3/4 of a mile to your hike, making it closer to a 3-mile trip.

beaver loop golden gate canyon trail start
The Beaver Loop Trailhead Across Golden Gate Canyon Road from the Visitor Center

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.

beaver loop golden gate canyon another trail sign
First Trail Fork on the Beaver Loop

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.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

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.

beaver loop golden gate canyon yet another trail sign
Sign Indicating Spur Trail to Shelter

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.

mountains in the west at golden gate canyon state park

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.

beaver loop golden gate canyon downhill segment
Downhill Trail Segment on the Beaver Loop

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

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions to Visitor Center

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


windy peak golden gate canyon state park header

Windy Peak Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

Windy Peak is a summit hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. A moderate to difficult 6.4-mile loop hike that follows meltwater creeks, crosses green meadows replete with wildflowers, and offers great views at the summit of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the West. Explore the full Windy Peak Hike profile for trail map, driving directions, and many of the details you need to enjoy this adventure in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Trail Snapshot: Windy Peak in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Bridge across Ralston Creek at Bridge Creek Trailhead in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Windy Peak Hike

From Denver, take US-6 West to Golden. Just outside Golden, US-6 will turn left (West) into Clear Creek Canyon; it's at this intersection that you'll continue North (not turning left) on 93. After 1.3 miles on 93, turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road. Now, prepare for the rest of your drive being pretty windy. About 4 miles down Golden Gate Canyon Road, you have the option of taking Crawford Gulch road to the Right or to stay on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Both routes will get you there.

I believe that Google Maps from Denver is going to default to Crawford Gulch Road. Do take your time and be alert for cyclists and motorcycles, especially on the weekend, as both Golden Gate Canyon Road and Crawford Gulch Roads are popular roads for riding. Eventually, Crawford Gulch Road will turn into Drew Hill Road, which runs through the heart of Golden Gate Canyon State Park. If you decide to take the Golden Gate Canyon Road option, it will intersect with Crawford Gluch/Drew Hill at the visitor center (on your right, just after the intersection on Crawford Gulch). If you take this route, the Bridge Creek Trailhead will be 2.3 miles down the road and on your left (north). One last thing to note is that Crawford Gulch Road has yet one more name, Ralston Creek Road. So, if you see that on any signage, just know you are on the right track.

The Bridge Creek Trailhead is a bit unusual because it's composed of several parking areas along the on the north side of the road. However, all parking areas have trails that will lead hikers to the footbridge that crosses the trail and serves as the official start of the Burro trail and this hike. A sign (pictured above) reads "Burro Trailhead."

The Hike: The Windy Peak Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

trail junction on burro trail in golden gate canyon

This is a Lollipop-loop trail with a spur trail at the end that leads up to the summit. There are several trail junctions, which can make this the route a bit confusing. I've provided photos below of the trail junctions, but it's important to remember that weather can change the landscape and signage. The description here hikes the loop portion of the trail in a clockwise direction. We've classified this as moderate/medium in difficulty. However, its right on the edge because of the over 1000' elevation gain and more than 5 miles of trail. For some, this will be difficult. It's also on our list of dog-friendly hikes, but it's important to know that the peak is all rocky terrain that may be a bit tough on your dog's paws. As always, if you are taking your best friend, be sure to keep them on a leash out of respect for the wildlife, environment, and other hikers.

creek along the burro trail

After crossing Ralston Creek, the trail makes its way up a gentle slope into the trees. At the first trail junction, stay on the Burro Trail (left). The second trail junction leads either straight on the Mountain Lion Trail to Forgotten Valley or right toward Windy Peak on the Burro Trail. The trail will make its way along a creek. Look for Calypso flowers, also called Pink Lady Slippers in this area. They grow along the creeks in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

trail junction on burro trail with orange arrow

The loop begins at the third junction (pictured above), the way up to Windy Peak is clearly marked as the left-hand trail. From this point, it's 2.2 miles to the peak. Here the trail begins a steeper climb through an area with prominent chalk colored cliffs.

chalk colored cliffs along the burro trail

As you gain altitude, you'll gain views out to the Continental Divide rising above the green foothills of Golden Gate. The trail will then enter the shade of lodgepole forest.

snow capped mountains behind green foothills colorado

At the top of the loop, hikers will encounter the junction for the .7 mile spur trail that leads to the summit of Windy Peak (pictured below). There will be one more sign pointing the way at 0.4-mile below the summit.

spur trail sign for Windy peak along Burro Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

The summit of Windy Peak is one of my favorite places to read and journal. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch with you, because you'll want to spend some time here resting and refueling for the hike back to the trailhead. The spur trail will lead back to the main Burro loop trail. At this point, you can return the way you hiked in to the spur trail (a slightly shorter way back), or continue on the rest of the loop toward Nott Creek. The landscape on this back end of the loop is riddled with wildflowers, so it's well worth doing the full loop hike.

windy peak golden gate canyon state park another summit view

The trail will weave its way down into a valley with a dirt service road. Here, hikers will want to follow the Burro trail towards the Bridge Creek Trailhead as it makes its way on and off the service roads.

Trail junction with aspen trees in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

The trail will work its way through a green meadow, then along Nott creek, following it West until retracing the trails that lead back to Bridge Creek Trailhead.

green meadows with trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Windy Peak

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions to Bridge Creek Trailhead

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


realization point view to front range snow capped mountains on hike near boulder colorado

Gregory Canyon Hike to Realization Point

The trail up Gregory Canyon is a moderately challenging hike to Realization Point Trailhead where hikers can pick up two different loop trails. Both loops offer expansive views of the Rocky Mountains in the West and wildflowers along the trail. Explore the full Gregory Canyon-Realization Point hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Boulder, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Gregory Canyon to Realization Point

Parking & Trailhead Information for Gregory Canyon

Hikers have several parking options for the Gregory Canyon Trail: 1) the Gregory Canyon Trailhead, 2) Parking at Chautauqua Park, or 3) along permitted stretches of Baseline Road. The Gregory Canyon Trailhead can be reached by following Baseline Road in Boulder west past Chautauqua park. Gregory Canyon Road is located on the left/South about 1/2 mile West of the park. Parking is allowed along most of the south side of Gregory Canyon Road and there is room for 7-8 vehicles at the trailhead. Both the roadside parking and the small parking area at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead require an access fee. Because of the fee and because this parking area fills quickly most mornings, many hikers opt to park along Baseline or at Chautauqua Park. Another option is to park at the Realization Point Trailhead (another fee parking area) and to hike down through the Canyon.

The Hike: Gregory Canyon Trail to Realization Point

In addition to its proximity to Boulder, this hike sports a number of options and a variety of landscapes. The stretch between Gregory Canyon Trailhead and Realization Point Trailhead is the main artery of all the options in this profile. Because most hikers will begin their adventure at Chautauqua Park, there are a couple 1/2 mile (one-way) approaches: the Baseline Trail or the Meadow Trail. On the upper end of the hike, at Realization Point Trailhead, there are two different loop options that offer beautiful views to the West of seasonal snowcapped peaks. These are the Rangeview/Ute Loop and the Tenderfoot Loop. You can review each of the hike options below to decide which trail combination is best for you.


View of the Flatirons from the Baseline Trail between Chautauqua Park and Gregory Canyon Trailhead

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead - 2.4 Miles Round Trip

This segment constitutes the main artery for all the hike options below. The Gregory Canyon Trail begins in the shade along Gregory Canyon Creek and climbs gradually to 0.5 mile where it crosses another small creek. Here the trail becomes more steep, making its way up a ridge via a set of switchbacks. Then the trail descends to a junction. At the junction, the Northern (right) segment leads a short distance up to Flagstaff Road and the Realization Point Trailhead (the destination for this hike as described here), or South (left) to the Long Canyon and Ranger Trails. After hiking the short segment to Flagstaff road, Realization Point Trailhead will be located across the street to the North. Be sure to watch for both cars and cyclists before crossing. If starting at Chautauqua Park and taking the Baseline or Meadow Trails to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 3.4 miles Round Trip.

looking out to boulder and the plains from gregory canyon

A View down into Boulder from the Upper Reaches of the Canyon

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead + Rangeview/Ute Loop - 3.2 Miles Round Trip

After traveling the 1.1 miles up through the canyon to Realization Point, hikers will find two loop options. The first is the shorter Rangeview/Ute Loop. This loop makes a 0.8-mile clockwise circuit around Flagstaff Mountain then joins back up to the trailhead. The loop offers views to the mountains in the West and great viewpoints to take in the changing aspens in the Fall. If starting at Chautauqua Park, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 4.2 miles Round Trip.

realization point sign and parking area along flagstaff road
Realization Point Trailhead Across Flagstaff Road

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead + Tenderfoot Loop - 4.7 Miles Round Trip

From Realization Point Trailhead, the Tenderfoot Trail bears to the left (Northwest) and makes for a more demanding loop when compared to the Rangeview/Ute Trail because of both the added distance and the additional elevation loss and gain. At its most northern point, hikers will find a short spur trail leading to a small peak that affords expansive views to the West. If starting at Chautauqua Park, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 5.7 miles Round Trip. By adding the spur trail, it becomes closer to 6 miles total.

trail junction at realization point

Trail Junction for the Two Loop Hikes at Realization Point Trailhead

Both loop hikes afford multiple opportunities for taking in views out to the Rocky Mountains. The photo below was taken along the beginning segment of the Rangeview Trail.

view to snowcapped peaks realization point in boulder colorado

Views of the Front Range from the Rangeview Trail

Video of Gregory Canyon Hike

man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver

Tips & Resources for Hiking Gregory Canyon

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder