Black Bear – Mule Deer – Horseshoe Loop (Golden Gate Canyon State Park)

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Trail Stats & Info

RT length 5.2 miles
Elevation gain 1,370 feet
Difficulty moderate
Lowest elevation 8,240 feet
Highest elevation 9,480 feet
Trail type loop
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 100
Restrooms @ TH? yes
(at visitor’s center)

Directions

From I-25 or C-470, take 6th Ave. west to Golden. Continue straight onto Hwy 93, through the intersection of Hwy 93, 58, and 6. Turn left at Golden Gate Canyon Road. After about 12 miles, you will pass a self pay fee station. You can pay for a day pass here or at the Visitor’s Center. Turn right at Crawford Gulch Road. The visitor’s center is just to the right, which has maps, restrooms, and backcountry permits. Continue on Crawford Gulch Road and when you come up to parking lots on each side of the road, park here. The Black Bear trail is on the west side of the road, just south of the parking lot.

From I-70 (Denver), take CO 58 or the Golden Freeway west to Golden. Turn right onto Hwy 93 at the intersection of Hwy 6, Hwy 93, and CO 58. On Hwy 93, turn left at Golden Gate Canyon Road. After about 12 miles, you will pass a self pay fee station. You can pay for a day pass here or at the Visitor’s Center. Turn right at Crawford Gulch Road. The visitor’s center is just to the right, which has maps, restrooms, and backcountry permits. Continue on Crawford Gulch Road and when you come up to parking lots on each side of the road, park here. The Black Bear trail is on the west side of the road, just south of the parking lot.

From I-70 (Idaho Springs), take the Central City Parkway exit and follow this road through Central City and Blackhawk to CO 119. Head north onto CO 119 to Golden Gate Canyon Road (CO 46). Take a right onto Golden Gate Canyon Road and follow this road to Crawford Gulch Road. Take a left onto Crawford Gulch Road and the Visitor’s Center is just to the right, where you can purchase a day pass. Follow Crawford Gulch Road for a short distance until you come up to the first parking lots on each side of the road. Park here, and the Black Bear trailhead is on the west side of the road just south of the parking lot.



Photos

Description

This was our first time to this Colorado state park and we love this area, as it is close to Denver, but far enough to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There is an entrance fee of $7, but it is well worth it. From the parking lot we headed up Black Bear trail, which then immediately meets up with Horseshoe trail. You can go either way, but we followed the trail guide and continued on Black Bear trail. The trail gradually ascends through an small open meadow and then enters a forest of trees. For most of the middle section of the loop on Black Bear trail, the trail goes up and down through trees and boulders. There are a few sections that require some minimal scrambling, but that added more variety to the trail and made it more fun. The park has provided many trail markers throughout the trails, so it makes it very easy to follow the trail. It was especially helpful when going up and around the boulders. This area has awesome views of the Continental Divide and you can also see Mt. Evans, Grays and Torreys Peaks. After the ups and downs, the trail finally descends through a forest and out to a flat area of Aspens. Here you connect to Mule Deer trail and several backcountry campsites. At the first trail sign/map, you want to head left, but just after several yards, you come up to a fork and from here you want to head right. If you head left, the trail ends and you have to turn around anyways. Most of Mule Deer trail is flat, which is a nice break from the ups and downs of Black Bear trail. Soon thereafter, you will come up to another trail junction and here you want to head right onto Horseshoe trail. This trail gradually descends and after a mile or so, there is another trail sign. Here take a right crossing over a small wooden bridge and follow this trail all the way to the Black Bear and Horseshoe trail junction and then back down to the parking lot.

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About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"