LOCATION: Beaver Trail, Golden Gate State Park, Colorado
CLICK HERE for directions to the trailhead.
DISTANCE: 2.8 mile loop or 2.4 mile out and back to the shelter (which we did.)
BRING YOUR… Crampons. No snowshoes required as the trail is well packed from normal traffic.
PROS: Beautiful trail. Slightly challenging going uphill in snow (yes, “challenging” is a pro to me.) Met a lot of new folks.
CONS: Crowded AF, due to being the closest First Day Hike to the metro Denver area.
The year is new but we already have so many exciting things to tell you about and I can’t wait! The very first day of the New Year brought us out on a First Day Hike, which I encouraged everyone to go on last week. We bundled up and ventured out to Golden Gate Canyon State Park for a First Day Hike that promised hot chocolate and cookies at the end, and we were not disappointed.
The hike started in the visitor’s center, which is really cool. Everything is modern and up to date except for the plumbing. The bathrooms closed down while we were there, which may have had something to do with 100 people trying to pee at the same time. Think I’m exaggerating? 66 PEOPLE showed up at 10am for the First Day Hike alone, and that’s not counting the other visitors who just happened to be there.
The event kicked off with Visitor Center Manager Megan rallying the troops, explaining the trail and how she had been out flagging it for us yesterday, and asking us to sign out when we returned so that they would know we didn’t get lost in the wilderness. Then she introduced Hike Leader John, a retired-pediatrician-turned-park-volunteer who spends his spare time teaching english as a second language to at-risk students in downtown Denver. Yeah… I’ll follow that guy.
The hike itself was moderate to difficult, but only due to the steepness. For experienced hikers I would just call it moderate, but if you’re not used to the elevation or are at least using that as an excuse because you gained 10 lbs over Christmas vacation, it’s difficult. Some people have complained online that you can hear traffic for the first half of the trail, but I couldn’t hear much. You can SEE the road for the first few hundred yards, but that pretty much describes any trail starting from a visitors center. I wasn’t exactly expecting back country here…
As far as the hike goes, I would recommend it for beginners, people who get out a few times a year, families with children, and taking out-of-town visitors if you’re looking for a quick 1/2 day hike. The views aren’t that amazing and it’s no jaw dropping “wilderness“, but it is a solid hike with pretty forest scenery that’s not to be scoffed at. The view from the top is a somewhat narrow scene of the Continental Divide. It’s nice, but it’s not gonna make your facebook wall photo.
I would definitely hit this trail up again, but next year I’ll probably choose a different location for a First Day Hike. We picked this one because it was the easiest one to get to from the Denver Area, but that means it was equally as easy for everyone else to get to as well. I have no problem with everyone getting outside– that’s what this website encourages people to do. The more people there are outside the better! But 66 people hiking up Beaver Trail in one group is like those pictures you see of the herds going up Everest. But it was really fun regardless, and I can handle being with that many people on the trail once a year. It made me really happy to see so many people choosing the outdoors over staying home and watching tv all day! (Which I may or may not have done on January 2nd.)
Did I mention there were cookies and hot cocoa at the end of the hike? Sorry, there are none at the end of this post. I ate them all.
– C. Egli