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Level: Advanced
Length: 35 mi (56.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,772/1 ft
Total: 155 riders

Mountain Biking Golden Gate Canyon State Park

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#146 of 1,338 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#943 in the world

We rode Blue Grouse then took a right on Mule Deer some nice singletrack and kinda technical. You'll eventually get to some campsites just follow the signs for Mule Deer, from here go up the valley..soo nice with a little climb..then descend down a loose rocky douletrack. Keep climbing to the Panorama Point its pretty cool up there, I guess there are some views up here..but the day we rode (5-29-05) it rained off and on all day..so we'll be back. No real long downhills but it is alot of fun getting back to your car if you parked at Kirley Pond. $5 a car is well worth it..hardly anyone there!!

First added by schwingletrack on May 30, 2005. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Take Golden Gate Canyon Rd. 15 miles from Golden. Several options for trail head starts. Check with the Visitor Center for maps and info.
System trails (1)
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Golden Gate Canyon State Park Trail map

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Matt Miller (on Nov 7, 2021)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jul 5, 2021)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Golden, Colorado

Intermediate | 8 mi
Intermediate | 10 mi
Advanced | 6 mi
Advanced | 10 mi

Rider questions

Q: Pets
A: On leash only

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  • charriezllaston

    Such a pretty trail great views and excellently marked

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  • geoff4444

    Had a blast doing the Mountain Lion Loop clockwise. Fun semi-tech uphill, then super rocky tech downhill over, stumps, logs and the stream. About 1200 ft elevation gain.

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  • Michael Paul

    This was a LOT more remote and had a LOT more climbing than I originally thought. I could not tell you what trails I rode in this system (trying to keep up with a faster group) but it had long technical climbs followed by wicked, rocky, twisty and steep downhills, followed by several log/river crossings....followed by a lot more climbing. Rode about 3 hours, finished in the dark, and had a blast.

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  • uvaggio

    50% of this trail is great, however your bike will take a beating on the other 50%. I clear almost any obstacle in Colorado and this trail is not rideable in some sections. I had a great day on it, but there is some much better riding in Colorado. It

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  • gregval   ✓ supporter

    We started at the Ole Barn Knoll parking lot. Up Elk Trail to the Raccoon Trail to Panorama Pt. The Elk Trail was a nice singletrack, mostly smooth, only a few steeper sections. Raccoon Trail went down at first, then up and rocky, not very rideable. You may want to take the road from the end of Elk Tr to Panorama Pt. We then took the road down about a mile, and then connected back into the Mule Deer Tr. This upper Mule Deer Tr has been turned into a logging road, where the park service did some tree clearing. Lower down Mule Deer Tr went back to a nice singletrack, and pretty flat. Lower down, Mule Deer Tr went down steeper and rockier. Then back up a nice singletrack to the parking lot. About 8.5 miles.
    This is probably the best loop for rideability; much of the trails in this park are steep and rocky.

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  • John Fisch

    I concur with the clockwise route. The climb is definitely tough, but mostly smooth, which saves the chunk for the downhill. It's still pretty tough with some tight switchbacks, very narrow trail with no choice of line and some unforgiving creek crossings.

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  • JimmyG

    I recommend this ride for the advanced rider on modern freeride style bike. While it is almost all ridable, long stretches are relentless- both up and down! If your up for this ride, do Mountain Lion Trail clockwise. Trail is well marked, starting at the Nott Creek parking lot. Free maps at the visitor station, but parking pass for the day is $7.

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  • dzpd23

    The campground here was fantastic. 9,300ft. I did not do the whole trail. I basically rode from the campground down to the lake. Great views. Very fast downhill made more exciting by the kamikaze ground squirrels. I can't believe I didn't run any over! There was one section that I could not climb. The slope and gravel were too much but the giant switchbacks were worth it. I'd like to return here.

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  • ephilli2

    I found this trail in a Falcon Guide. Boy was I in for a surprise. This is one of the most challenging Front Range rides I've done, primarily from the technicality. Several sections of the ascent are so steep that once you stop (due to an obstacle that you can't clear or to take a breather), it's very difficult to get started again (think very steep terrain, add in a few inches of loose dirt/sand, and many large rocks/drops). Most of the trail is rideable, but several sections will challenge even the most experienced riders (in terms of aerobic ability and technical skills).

    The descent, particularly following the creek, is FUN, but again, very technical. I'm sure my 29er wheels helped me stay upright and avoid doing some endos on the many wheel-grabbing rocks. :-)

    I've ridden Bergen Peak several times; compared to the Mountain Lion route, Bergen is a piece of cake.

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  • hitek79

    The Snowshoe Hare trail is rated as difficult by the parks department, and I would say that's an accurate rating. The trail is very rocky and rooty, with some extended climbs, and if you don't clear some obstacles expect to have to push your bike a bit to a flat spot to get restarted. There is nothing on the trail that is unrideable, but it will test even an advanced rider's skills.

    The key to having the most fun on this trail IMO is to park at the Rifleman parking lot, and ride this loop CLOCKWISE. This gives you the most downhill on singletrack, with a .5 mile very steep climb on a dirt road. The Hare trail meets up with a couple of other trails so it's easy to get some larger rides in. If you add in the Mountain Lion trail, it is best ridden clockwise as well.

    I rode this trail on a perfect July Sunday and saw 1 biker, and 3 hikers. The scenery is very lush and more like a ride you would find much deeper in to the mountains. I highly recommend it if you want to ditch the typical Front Range crowds.

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  • Corey Maddocks

    This trail has it all: steep climbing that goes from fireroad to singletrack and tops out at 8,000 feet, narrow, rocky rooty descents, creek crossings, and then more singletrack and fireroad on the way out.

    This is a prety tough trail both aerobically and technically. If you're a very technical rider, you will love it, if you're an intermediate rider, go for it and it will build your skills.

    Note, you will need a parks pass to get to the trailhead, or you can buy a day pass at the trailhead.

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  • stillfat

    I just rode the Mountain Lion again (clockwise) for the first time in a few years and, maybe I'm just getting older, but it was pretty much a bloodbath. The climb was steep and very loose, and that's the easy part. The beginning of the descent switchbacks tightly and very steeply through boulders, roots and ledges, and you're still not to the hard part. Next is a sustained downhill along and through the creek with lots of steep, jagged granite, stumps and frequent sharp turns through the most technical sections. What makes it tough is that it's always blind - you can never see more than 10-15 feet ahead of you. You're rewarded for your effort with a final, granny gear, mile long climb up a sandy doubletrack.

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  • John Fisch

    I did the Mountain Lion trail clockwise. I gotta say the climb was a lot harder than expected. I don't mind a tough climb, but this one was on a dusty, sandy, powdery, trail mixed with too much doubletrack. It just wasn't worth the effort compared to other area rides. The scenery was nice and the top half of the descent was technica and fun with a mix of rocks, roots and tight switchbacks. The bottom half of the descent was super tight with very challenging jumbled rock entries/exits from about a dozen stream crossings. Oh yeah, then ya' gotta' hit another big service road climb before you can complete the loop. This is a good trail, but not as much bang for the buck compared to other front range rides so I can see why I didn't encounter any other riders on a perfect weather Sunday. Don't think that means you will escape the crowds, however as there are plenty of hikers. * Review edited 10/3/2010

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  • saillazyjack

    Rode trail today, beginning of August. Got to get on trail early, as afternoon thunderstorms pop up. That isn't soooo bad as it is a good cool off. Just have a rain jacket...it gets cold!! The trail was not so well maintained when I rode it. Rain ruts made some difficult sections. A creek crossing the trail has gold in it...don't get any ideas, it is just very fine powder, not worth the effort. I always ride with my Aussie, Captain Jack, so I look for trails with water. I have rides better in the Golden area. Make this one of your last rides.

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  • jkovaly

    These are some tough trails, bring extra food and water if you plan to ride the whole thing ! Many of the climbs are long, steep and technical with switchbacks and loose rocks. Make sure your shocks have plenty of air in them and are set for the longest travel, the downhills are serious with lots of rock drops and tight sections - especially on Mountain Lion and Snowshoe Hare. I parked at Kiley's Pond and rode up Blue Grouse, took a right on Mule Deer and kept climbing until I got to a short downhill (fire road), then followed that to Snowshoe. Followed Snowshoe to Buffalo Creek, took that to Mountain Lion (clockwise) to Burro and back to Snowshoe in the reverse direction and up to Mule Deer which I followed back to the car - 3hrs and 20mi later ! Whew !

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  • Lancefan

    I rode about 3 or 4 of the trails here and they were all great. Even the Buffaloe trail (road to double track) is fun because it is fairly steep.

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  • arnolda14   ✓ supporter

    When I lived in Denver, one of my favorite rides was the route from the Nott Creek TH up to Forgotten Valley. There are some fairly technical spots on the initial climb so all but the more advanced riders can expect to walk and/or fall down here. It does mellow out after that. The wildflowers in June are amazing if the rain has been good. We saw a bear down near the road by the SWA area a couple of weeks ago. Forgotten Valley itself is a gorgeous little meadow with a pond and an old homestead (the trout were hitting red powerbait last time I went).

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  • Jurassic

    Start from Bridge Creek and ride the Burro Trail and then head West on Mt. Lion. This section has a grueling climb up some doubletrack. Great for the lungs and legs. (My buddy on his 29'er Singlespeed might disagree about the "grueling" part, but the guy climbs like a Mountain Goat on that thing.) Continuing on to the Buffalo Trail, then past an old shelter to eventually the Snowshoe Hare trail for some more climbing and then a quick downhill. Eventually you'll hook up with Mule Deer (heading West toward Panorama Pt.) and the first section is one hell of techy climb for nearly a 100 yds., but then you are rewarded with some cool drop offs, another very technical rock section (where most will walk up it) then some more quick downhill and then yet another techy rock section with a narrow channel through the rocks (that most will walk down) and then quickly drop onto Gap Rd. From there Raccoon Trl. South to Panoramo Pt. with AWESOME VIEWS of Indian Peaks to the NW, and Gray & Torreys to the SW, and Evans to the South. Continue on Raccoon to the Elk Trail with awesome Singletrack through some beautiful Aspen Groves all the way to Bootleg Bottom. Some fanatastic scenery here for this time of year! Not too techy except for a few spots. Great Ride!

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  • jfennell2

    I rode from Nott Creek trailhead up Burro Trail to the intersection with Mountain Lion trail. Nice climb with a wicked descent then some fun singletrack along the creek bottom. An easy climb through the meadow puts you onto Mt. Lion trail descending to the Deer Creek backcountry campsites. Ascend the jeep road back to the singletrack for Mt. Lion and cruise back to the first parking lot. A rugged climb takes you back to Burro trail and a fun descent the way you came to your car. Check the park map at the visitor center.

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  • e

    OK so I went over here on 04-09-06, I was going to start at the Aspen Medows Campground, but it is CLOSED for the whole season!!!!! So I started at Riffleman Phillps Campground where the Buffalo trail hooks up....(My route= Buffalo to Left onto Mountain Lion, allll the way around the mountain to Deer Creek to Nott Creek and then that links back up to Mountain Lion and then back onto Buffalo back up to where you park).... First it drops in on a fire road down into the valley where you'll see a lake down there, a really tiny one, stay to your left and you come to the split where you ither go left to the Mountain Lion trail or right to the Forgotten Valley/Burro trail, I went left up Mountain Lion, it is a hella climb with lots and lots and lots of rocks to get over, pretty damn hard....then when you get to the top it drops down the back side, all single track that was totally covered in packed snow, it was still rideable, but pretty tough...then you get to the bottom and there is a creek down there that is 95% frozen on top with water still running through it, DO NOT try and walk on the ice, it was super slippery, you will go down in a heart beat if not faster...this is like this almost the whole way, forcing me to get on and off the bike too many freaking times...anway once you get past that section it goes back up, of course, and again another long long climb with some very tiny spots of smooth single track.....you are still on the Mountain Lion trail at this point and it is basicly a climb all the way back to the top of the Buffalo trail where you started....so with all that mess this trail is pretty damn hard!! The route I took was 10.1miles long, took me freaking 3 hours with lots of stoping for pictures and lots of legging it up some of the climbs..enjoy, but be ware....

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