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While there are many great spots for backpacking in Colorado and even amazing glamping in Colorado, there are also a bunch of nature destinations not far away from major cities. Within an hour of both Boulder and Denver is Golden Gate Canyon State Park. In a state as strikingly beautiful as Colorado, it can be hard to stand out, but Golden Gate Canyon does just that — as one of the more accessible and stunning state parks in the Centennial State. Colorado is also known for its incredibly (and, to some, maybe annoyingly) active natives. Outdoorsy locals flock to Golden Gate Canyon for its hiking and for the impressive range of trails: which we’ve rounded up below.
Mountain Lion Trail
Distance: 6.9 Miles
This moderately difficult trail is a favorite for many hikers who decide to adventure through Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Generally well-shaded by tall trees, the route gets especially temperate in summer during the portion of the trail that follows Deer Creek.
Snowshoe Hare Trail
Distance: 2.8 Miles
A nice hike to take from Aspen Meadows Campground, Snowshoe Hare Trail is not challenging, although it does have a fair bit of rolling trails, meaning alternating between ascending and descending. Snowshoe Hare passes directly by the Dude’s Fishing Hole, a good body of water for casting a line and maybe catching dinner.
Distance: 2.5 Miles
A casual loop trail that begins at the Panorama Point parking lot, Raccoon Trail is a great beginners option or is awesome for a casual stroll with the family. Raccoon Trail has also become rather popular with mountain bikers. Raccoon serves as one of the main, and easier, access points for the Reverend’s Ridge Campground.
Distance: 1.8 miles
Another quick trail that should not be too difficult for hikers of all levels, Horseshoe Trail is usually hiked as an out and back but can be adjusted a number of ways to be made into a loop or as a way to meet other trails. The best use for Horseshoe Trail though is to follow the many streams along the path to end up in meadows of wildflowers and do some backcountry camping.
Mule Deer Trail
Distance: 9.1 Miles
Likely the most well-known hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, the Mule Deer Trail is a long loop that goes through a variety of beautiful mountain scenery, including alpine meadows, pine forests, and along peaks offering panoramic views. Those who are not used to Colorado’s altitude may feel it on this hike, as it is one of the higher trails, around 9,500 feet above sea level, but the views are well worth it.
Black Bear Trail
Distance: 2.5 Miles
While Black Bear Trail is only a quick two and a half miles, it’s rather difficult as it’s mostly a steep incline through rocky trails. The trail can be completed as an out and back or trekkers can continue on Mule Deer Trail, which intersects with the end of Black Bear.
Distance: 4.1 Miles
An attractive hike that traverses through many fields accented by rugged rock formations, Burro Trail is a good trek that, depending on the season, presents the opportunity to see wildflowers or bright fall colors. At the halfway mark, feel free to take the divergent path that goes up Windy Peak, which offers solid 360-degree views of the surrounding area.
Distance: 2.1 Miles
Another hiking road that eventually meets up with the Mule Deer Trail, hikers on Coyote Trail have the pleasure of trekking through an aspen grove. Towards the beginning, hikers will need to do a quick scramble up some rocks, although people accustomed to treks through the Rockies will be able to do it without breaking a sweat.