John Frazer Cabin

Happy Hiking: John Frazer Cabin

Today I hiked to John Frazer Cabin via Blue Grouse and Mule Deer Trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  The park is located 35 miles west of Denver, is very large, and has several entrances.  A day pass to a Colorado State Park costs $10 and may be purchased at a variety of kiosks with exact change.  An affixed annual pass to all Colorado State Parks costs $80 while a hang tag is $120.  It seems a little pricy, but the trails are well marked and well maintained.

Getting There

The parking area to Blue Grouse Trail is located off Golden Gate Canyon Road and does not include a kiosk for paying, so be sure to plan for this in another location.  The nearby Mountain Base Road to Reverend’s Ridge Campground where there is a pay station was closed for the winter.  As a result, it might be best to stop in at the Visitor Center before continuing to the trailhead. The AllTrails app provides perfect directions to the trailhead, and the Colorado State Park website provides good park maps.

HAPPY HIKING!
on the way to Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Happy Hiking: Raccoon Trail

On the recommendation of a friend, I visited Golden Gate Canyon State Park to hike Raccoon Trail.  After all, there is likely a reason it is named “Golden”.  The state park includes several trails and features many golden aspen trees. 

HAPPY HIKING!

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Well, I’ve been trying out tennis lately and have been remiss about going to the mountains, especially with travel to sea level as of late.  It’s amazing how quickly I got out of hiking/altitude shape, and I only went up to about 8,800 feet!

Today I joined a group at Golden Gate Canyon State Park located probably 25 miles west of Denver.  I had only been to the park once before and hiked some trails on the western side.  Today we aimed to hike Mountain Lion Trail, a 6.7 mile loop described as difficult in the park’s pamphlet on the eastern side.

After some confusion about where to meet, as many trailheads lead to Mountain Lion Trail, we finally turned into a cohesive group at the Nott Creek parking area, the most eastern side of the park, around 10:20 without our hike organizer.  We soon set off to tackle the trail that loops through the only hunting area in park during hunting season…great!  After having bullets whiz by me in September on the Colorado Trail, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about visiting a marked area for gunfire, though I suppose we had safety in numbers.

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The weather forecast called for 65 degrees by noon and we warmed up quickly as we began our climb on an open path beneath a sunny sky.  Soon we entered the trees and followed the creek along a path dusted with snow.  As we continued climbing, the hikers spread out, thus we stopped to regroup.  Breaking a sweat and then stopping in the shade and snow chilled us to the bone…the temperature was far from 65, especially with the wind!

We reached a trail intersection where we could continue on Mountain Lion or follow Burro Trail that passes by an offshoot to Windy Peak.  A few members of the group wanted to climb Windy Peak, so we bailed on our original plan and turned left to follow Burrow Trail.  At the junction for Windy Peak, the wind was whipping and that was at the base.

Being cold, I opted to skip Windy Peak and all but two guys followed my lead.  We walked slightly further to a rock outcropping for a short lunch, but I didn’t stay long as I needed to warm up my toes! A few others were in agreement to get moving again.  The trail led us downhill to a few different junctions where we connected to a service road to make it to the parking area.  It was a nice hike.  I would have liked to do the whole Mountain Lion Trail.  By taking Burro Trail, we probably shaved off a mile or so as we finished up in less than 3 hours.

Congregated in the parking lot, we enjoyed the warm sun!  I’m dreading this week of ten degree temperatures as frankly, it was a lovely day in Colorado and I felt frigid!!  Regardless, it was good to out and enjoy the mountains.  It’s been far too long.  ETB

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SNOWY FALLS
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The Rockies: Snow Hiking Black Bear Trail to Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

February 16, 2013

This was my first time to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, located northwest of Denver and Golden. The park requires a $7 daily entry fee which can be paid at a self pay station or the visitors center located at the south entrance on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Black Bear Trail, 2.8 miles, is rated most difficult on the park’s literature and Horseshoe Trail, 1.8 miles, carries a moderate rating. The starting altitude is around 8,250 feet and the elevation gain is around 1,000 feet. Overall, both ratings seemed a little extreme.

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Black Bear Trail immediately ascended from the parking lot up through a meadow. Eventually it wound through trees and around boulders. There were many ups and downs where we thought we had reached “the summit”, only to find out we were following the trail back down through the forest. Thankfully, the trail was well marked! The roller coaster hike allowed for several beautiful views of snow capped mountains in the distance, a bit of boulder scrambling, and an enjoyable variety. Our winter clothing was the only challenge…we found ourselves bundling up while going downhill in the wind and shade and stripping down while climbing uphill in the sun.

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We came to a trail junction where we turned right and headed toward the Greenfield Meadow Campground. Here we connected to the Horseshoe Trail that gradually descended until we reached a small wooden bridge. We crossed the bridge, followed some snowy, switchbacks up the mountain and reconnected to the Black Bear Trail, heading back to the parking lot.

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This was my first snow hike. I used traction devices called Yaktrax, that attach to the bottom of the hiking boot. I found out these are not the best…they broke the first try! Luckily I bought them at REI which will take all returns! I normally don’t return used items, but this time I think I will (and get something different) as after talking to several people, they have all said they don’t even know why REI sells Yaktrax because they always break! Regardless, I’ll be planning some more winter hiking as well as some snow shoeing soon! ETB