Denver, CO: Golden Gate Panorama Point

Catch views of the Continental Divide (and mule deer, elk, and black bear) on this 12.3-mile loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Catch views of the Continental Divide (and mule deer, elk, and black bear) on this 12.3-mile loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

This moderate, 12.3-mile dayhike links five trails and showcases the often overlooked backcountry of Golden Gate Canyon State Park (less than an hour from Denver). This counterclockwise loop begins at the Ralston Roost trailhead and follows the Horseshoe Trail around rocky outcroppings as it climbs toward Greenfield and Frazer Meadows. You'll pass several backcountry campsites just 1.5 miles from the trailhead.

Skirting the base of 10,388-foot Tremont Mountain, the Mule Deer Trail travels toward Gap Road, crossing it once before reaching Panorama Point where stationary binoculars and relief maps identify 47 distant features along 100 miles of the Continental Divide.

Turning downhill, the route traverses grassy meadows and homestead ruins along the park’s western edge before it’s final challenge: a climb up Ralston Roost along the Black Bear Trail. Simple route-finding—look for hard-to-spot trail markers to stay on track—and some hand-over-foot scrambling add difficulty before a rugged downhill back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Kristy Holland

PLAN IT

MAP:
>> Download maps of the area at the Golden Gate Canyon State Park website.
>> Order a custom map of this route by selecting the "Print MyTopo" option in the left-hand menu bar.
>> Order the USGS topo quads listed above at store.usgs.gov.

PERMIT: Purchase a day-use pass in the Visitor's Center. For more information, go to Golden Gate Canyon Fees.

CONDITIONS: Check weather at Golden, CO (80403) Weather

INFO: For more information, go to the Golden Gate Canyon State Park website.

CONTACT: 92 Crawford Gulch Road, Golden, CO 80403; (303) 582-3707

OTHER RESOURCES

GEAR
Bent Gate Mountaineering
1313 Washington Ave.
Golden, CO
(303) 271-9382
bentgate.com

Vital Outdoors
1224 Washington Ave. #125
Golden, CO
(303) 215-1644
vitaloutdoors.com

RESTAURANTS
Woody's Woodfired Pizza
1305 Washington Ave.
Golden, CO
(303) 277-0443
woodysgolden.com

Blue Canyon Bar & Grill
1224 Washington Ave.
Golden, CO
(303) 271-0730 ‎
bluecanyonbarandgrill.com

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 19.6

Waypoints

GGC001

Location: 39.831514, -105.410079

The trail begins from the north end of the visitor center parking lot. Optional: Drive a few hundred yards north to the Ralston Roost parking area.

GGC002

Location: 39.832993, -105.408368

From the Raslton Roost parking area (left side of the road), the trail climbs uphill.

GGC003

Location: 39.83379, -105.409041

After a quick uphill, turn right to begin the counterclockwise loop.

GGC004

Location: 39.836945, -105.407181

A tiny wooden bridge crosses a creek to a T-junction. Turn left to follow the Horseshoe Trail under a pine and aspen canopy.

GGC005

Location: 39.841153, -105.416801

Continue climbing as the trail veers right around a rocky knoll.

GGC006

Location: 39.843303, -105.419987

Turn right at the Y-junction toward Greenfield Meadow and campsite spur trails scattered over the next 0.6 miles.

GGC007

Location: 39.844502, -105.42003

Campsite 2 is a favorite: A rocky outcropping perched near the tent-pad provides easy southeastern valley views.

GGC008

Location: 39.845204, -105.419859

A 50-yard trail near campsite 3 leads to a free-flowing pipette of natural spring water.

GGC009

Location: 39.850072, -105.426634

A meadow traverse passes campsites 4 and 5 and offers views of Tremont Mountain's 10,368-foot peak before this T-junction. Turn right onto the Mule Deer Trail toward Aspen Meadow.

GGC010

Location: 39.862284, -105.419923

A couple of steep banked downhill corners on this multi-use trail are well-worn by mountain bike tires.

GGC011

Location: 39.864001, -105.419869

Continue straight at this 3-way junction, bypassing the Snowshoe Hare Trail.

GGC012

Location: 39.868283, -105.421007

You'll see Gap Road below the trail as you continue through this 3-way junction. A sign indicates 0.8 miles remaining to Panorama Point.

GGC013

Location: 39.871037, -105.428612

Avoid walking on Gap Road by staying left and climbing slightly to parallel the road as it heads west.

GGC014

Location: 39.875416, -105.437309

Cross Gap Road's gravel surface and turn left to join the Raccoon Trail to Panorama Point.

GGC015

Location: 39.875871, -105.440447

A large wooden platform with interpretive information and high-powered binoculars offers sweeping 50-mile views of towns and peaks near the Continental Divide. Relief maps of the view point out: South Rosalie Peak, Loveland Pass, James Peak, Devil's Thumb, Nederland, the Estes Cone, North Signal Mountain and 40 other landmarks.

GGC016

Location: 39.872199, -105.445747

Continue straight at this 3-way junction that marks the end of the Raccoon Trail and the beginning of an easy 2-mile stretch along the Elk Trail.

GGC017

Location: 39.871037, -105.446243

Continue straight across the Park Road on the Elk Trail.

GGC018

Location: 39.868568, -105.445679

Stick to the trail as it squeezes between Mountain Base Road and private property lines along the park's Western boundary.

GGC019

Location: 39.866707, -105.445412

Follow the Elk Trail straight at this 3-way junction, bypassing the Coyote Trail.

GGC020

Location: 39.84885, -105.446297

After a small, bridged stream crossing, the trail overlooks the ruins of twin hay barns, remnants of a silver miner's early 20th century homestead.

GGC021

Location: 39.849749, -105.445018

Turn right at the T-junction to follow the Mile Deer Trail toward Frazer Meadow. A short lefthand spur trail leads to the Ole' Barn Knoll parking area and restrooms.

GGC022

Location: 39.846661, -105.442383

Continue straight across the park road. The trail turns uphill from here and offers views of Ralston Creek and valley farmland.

GGC023

Location: 39.841217, -105.435059

Continue on the Mule Deer Trail at this 3-way junction, bypassing the Blue Grouse Trail.

GGC024

Location: 39.842606, -105.426666

Turn right at the Y-junction to complete this loop route on the Black Bear Trail. Look for trail markers as you climb, the rugged path is hard to follow over outcroppings and around boulders.

GGC025

Location: 39.832768, -105.413902

A sign near its eastern end warns hikers of the Black Bear Trail's rugged path.

Grassy Meadows

Location: 39.860736, -105.449331

© Kristy Holland

Trout Pond

Location: 39.830818, -105.40987

A wheelchair-accessible loop at the visitor's center circles a trout pond. With some loose change, you can buy pellets to feed the hungry fish. © Kristy Holland

Well-signed

Location: 39.843769, -105.419934

The trail is signed and easy to follow through Greenfield Meadow, even though several trails converge. © Kristy Holland

Old Road

Location: 39.855762, -105.421972

The trail is flat an even along this stretch where it heads north along doubletrack. © Kristy Holland

Big Rocks

Location: 39.868691, -105.42128

Large rocks line the trail in several sections, including the upper reaches of the Mule Deer Trail. © MacKenzie Ryan

Binoculars

Location: 39.875822, -105.440125

© MacKenzie Ryan

Panorama Point

Location: 39.875937, -105.440168

The 100-mile Continental Divide view from Panorama Point. © Christopher Alan Barker

Mount Thorodin

Location: 39.875954, -105.441155

Looking north from the Raccoon Trail you'll see Mount Thorodin's 10,540-foot peak. A closer and still stunning addition to the view. © Christopher Alan Barker

Trail Markers

Location: 39.839815, -105.424354

Following the Black Bear Trail over rocks can be difficult. Keep an eye out for strategically-placed trail markers guiding the way. © Kristy Holland

Rugged Trail

Location: 39.832804, -105.413754

The Black Bear Trail crosses rugged terrain and warns hikers with this sign near its eastern end. © Kristy Holland