|Hike Distance||2.5 miles|
|Duration||Approx 1.5 hr|
|Elevation Gain||Approx +500′|
|Dogs||Allowed On 6′ Leash|
|Hike Trail Map||Click for a Map of Golden Gate Canyon State Park|
|Denver Drive Time||1 hr|
|Driving Directions to Panorama Point Trailhead||Click for Google Map|
|Driving Directions to Reverends Ridge Campground Trailhead||Click for Google Map|
|Town Nearest Hike||Golden, Colorado|
|Beauty||Mountain range views of snowcapped peaks, wildflowers, aspens|
|Activities||Hiking, mountain biking, photography, snowshoeing in winter|
|Fee||Colorado State Parks Pass Required|
Parking & Trailhead Information for the Raccoon Loop Hike
The Hike: The Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon
We hiked the Raccoon Loop counter-clockwise from the Panorama Point Trailhead and found it to be easy to moderate in difficulty. Our kids (at the time of this post) are 5 and 8. Both were wearing tennis shoes and did well on the trail. There was a steep segment with loose rock, where our youngest needed me to hold her hand as she navigated here way down the trail.
The trail begins with incredible views of the snowcapped Indian Peaks stretched out against the western sky. Soon, views of Thorodin Mountain and Starr peak dominate the landscape as the trail winds to the east and crosses a seasonal brook. Raccoon Trail then gently drops into aspen groves and green meadows full of wildflowers.
Entering a more mature stand of aspens, the trail begins a more steep descent. This is where hikers will want to watch their footing on the loose rock and gravel surface of the trail. After this short descent, the trail crosses another brook over a small footbridge, then begins to climb a bit further west before turning sharply to the south.
Shortly after the brook is where we encountered the closure of approximately 0.5 mile of the Raccoon trail. These closures are announced on the front page of the Golden Gate Canyon State Park website, and we knew about it before making our trip.
This rerouted us up to the Reverend Ridge Campground, then required that we hike down State Park Road for about 0.5 mile until we were able to pick up the Raccoon Trail again. Because the detour wasn’t clearly marked, we’ve provided an image of the normal route vs. the detour route we took below.
It probably goes without saying, but do exercise caution when walking the road, and assume that cars will not see you. There are several sharp turns/switchbacks. We were able to pick up the trail down where the road comes to a stop sign, then hike back to Panorama Point. The detour adds approximately 1 mile to the original hike, making this into a 3.5 mile loop hike.
This last section had some elevation gain, but still was moderate in difficulty. This is a great hike for visiting friends and family, but those who have not acclimatized to the altitude, or who are not in the best shape, may find this last part challenging. There is a bench strategically placed on the ascent, and rocks where you can rest your legs.
At Panorama Point, hikers will find a large deck and viewing area. It’s one of the best accessible views you’ll get of the Front Range near Denver.
Tips & Resources for Hiking the Raccoon Loop Hike
- Be Aware of Closures: The Raccoon Loop has seasonal closures when raptors are nesting. However, it’s just one segment of the trail that is closed, and a (not-so-well-marked) detour is available.
- Look out for Mtn Bikers: We always find mountain bikers to be considerate on the trails near Denver. There is an established etiquette and they will call their pass. Still, it’s good to know that this trail is popular with both mountain bikers and hikers, so keep your eyes and ears peeled and give them plenty of room to pass.
- Trail Map for Golden Gate Canyon State Park: 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: Windy Saddle Cafe in Golden, Colorado
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions to Panorama Point Trailhead