As the summer wanes I’m making every attempt to get out and see the beauty of Colorado. I want to take up snowshoeing this winter, but since that scenery is different, I want to take in as much as I can now. As such, Golden Gate Canyon State Park seemed like an ideal place to venture for a day since it’s close to Denver, yet far enough up in the hills to feel as though I’ve gotten away.
I trekked several miles and ultimately found myself disappointed though; while there are a lot of beautiful spots in the park, I didn’t find any of the expected stunning panoramas. The Continental Divide is nearby so there should’ve been plenty of opportunity. But, everything that I enjoyed was much more immediate in nature.
And while I only ran into three other people on the trails, I have a feeling that they’re much more well used due to the lack of wildlife. I anticipate, since this park is so close to Denver, that so many hikers keep the animals to the more remote areas of the park. It probably also doesn’t help that certain parts of the park are open to hunters, which is truly a shame in my opinion for a state park.
In place of wildlife I found a nice bit of history though; wandering into Frazer Meadow I easily discovered the remains of a historic homestead where John and Rufus Frazer lived along with Samuel Parker, Golden Gate’s only African-American homesteader. In 1869 the men settled this land. John, invalided with the use of only one leg as a miner, was crushed by logs he was trying to haul to nearby Blackhawk to trade for goods and killed in January of 1894. The lovely meadow now bears his name.
The trails in the area, particularly around Frazer Meadow, are well kept and show obvious signs of use. Other trails, like Black Bear Trail – one of the more difficult trails in the park – sometimes made me raise an eyebrow. If it weren’t for the area being littered with trail markers, it’d be easy to wander off and get lost in the hills.
I truly had to take a moment to pause and wonder what the people were thinking when they charted these trails since there really does not appear to be any discernable path. Nonetheless, I enjoyed a good hike on my first ever “most difficult” trail. I was proud to have made it up the big side of the mountain, mistakenly believing many times that I was at the top, and happy to have gotten a good bit of much-needed exercise on the day.
When the leaves have fallen and the winter snows have come I believe this will be an ideal place to visit with a pair of snowshoes strapped to my feet. I anticipate the views to be much more stunning since nothing will block them along the trails. So while I was disappointed with the park as a whole on this visit, I’m excited to rediscover it in only a few short months.