Trails Traveled: Mountain Lion Trail, Burro Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Difficulty: Blue (Moderate), Black (Hard)
Distance: 8 miles / Elevation Gain: 2,060 feet
Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
- Golden Gate Canyon State Park
- Golden, Colorado
- Partly Cloudy
- No Smoke
- Tree Cover
It has been too long since I did a nice, challenging summit hike. I was actually planning to go out a little farther and do a 13er near Breckenridge, but I-70 was stop and go, and I decided to pivot.
I have been to Golden Gate State Park a few times in the past, and there are lots of different hikes to choose from ranging from beginner to expert. The park is divided into two parts an East and a West side with lots of hikes on either side.
Because I had to make a change on the fly, I didn’t do a lot of pre-trip planning for this one. Since I had already set in my mind I was going to do a “long” hike, I had a camelbak ready, clif bars, sunscreen, my hiking poles, and all my gear already with me for the hike. I would say that if you were just starting out, it is better to overpack instead of not having what you need when you go out.
No pre-planning meant that I wasn’t 100% confident how long the hike was, how long it would take, and what kind of gain I might encounter, but since I set out in the morning I knew I had time before the afternoon storms rolled in. Because I have some experience doing longer hikes I knew I also had the physical stamina to do the hike. I have built up muscle memory on challenging hikes the past few years, so even though it has been a few months, I never felt overwhelmed on the trail.
One tip I have for someone just starting out is to start with green “easy” hikes and build up your strength, endurance for longer hikes before moving on, this also boosts your confidence in what you can handle when you set out on more difficult hikes.
We have had so much rain in Colorado this summer that wildflowers are still out and blooming on the trail, which attracts numerous butterflies in Colorado. This was a fun bonus on the hike since most years the green grass and bushes have started turning a golden color by now as the land gets ready for Autumn (which is only 3 weeks away!)
There were a good number of people on the trail, but not so many that you constantly felt like someone was breathing down your neck the entire time. Most people on the trail were out in groups. I saw a few solo hikers like myself out there though. I enjoy solo hikes because it is a good time for me to think and reflect on things. I can do some internal processing about my week, month, year… and then start making plans for the future. I am not a huge fan of incessant chit-chat on hikes. I have done hikes in the past with friends or a meetup group, and in most cases, I would just rather hike on my own. If you aren’t comfortable hiking solo, maybe you should consider buying some bear spray in the event that you meet an unwelcome predator on the trail.
This was a great, refreshing hike for me. The perfect way to start off a long weekend. Hope you can get out and enjoy the outdoors this week too!