Saturday, September 22, 2012
Panorama Point (Raccoon Loop), Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Panorama Point via the Raccoon Trail
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Date Hiked: September 22, 2012
Distance: 4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,338ft
Elevation Min/Max: 8,853 to 9,390ft
Managing Agency: CO Division of Parks & Wildlife
Golden Gate Canyon SP Trail Map (CDW)
Raccoon Loop Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Denver/Boulder take Hwy 93 to Golden Gate Canyon Road, just north of Golden. Head west on Golden Gate Canyon Road for 9 miles to the park entrance. Bear left at the fork staying on Golden Gate Canyon Road and turn right (there will be signs) onto Mountain Base Road. Turn left onto Gap road and follow the signs to the campground. The trailhead to located in the campground. A fee is required to visit the park.
The Raccoon Loop is one of the quintessential GGCSP hikes, and at about 4 miles, it is also one of the shorter hikes. This hike is amazing in the fall when the aspens are in there prime, but it is also beautiful in all other seasons.
The hike starts by descending a ridge until you reach an open meadow area and the start of the Raccoon Loop. I suggest following the loop clockwise (turn left) as the big views will come at the end of the hike, instead of the beginning. The trail is easy to follow and is mostly up hill from the meadow to Panorama Point. Panorama Point is one of the park's main features. It is a wood deck area (right of the road) with an amazing view of the Front Range. You may witness a wedding while passing through. Once you leave Panorama Point, the trail descends through evergreen forest, back to the meadow and up to the trailhead.
Although you can drive to Panorama Point, where's the fun in that? The Raccoon Trail offers a wonder hike through beautiful country with a stellar view. Way better than driving.