Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mustang > Belcher Hill Loop, White Ranch Park

Mustang > Belcher Hill Loop
White Ranch Park

Date Hiked: July 31, 2013

  • Distance: 4.5 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,019ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 7,220 to 7,920ft
  • Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
  • Fee: None

White Ranch Park Website (Jeffco)
Mustang > Belcher Hill Loop Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver, take I-70 west to Hwy 58 west to 93 north.  Turn left (west) on Golden Gate Canyon Road.  Head up the canyon and make a right onto Crawford Gulch Road.  Look for the signs pointing to the park and make a right onto Belcher Hill Road.  Take this road into the park and park at the small parking area uphill from the main parking area.

The Mustang/Belcher Hill Loop is a wonderful, seldom traveled trail in an otherwise popular Jeffco Open Space Park.  From the upper parking area, head up the Belcher Hill Trail through the forest to the top of Belcher Hill.  From here turn right onto the Mustang Trail and proceed down the side of Belcher Hill.  This stretch is a pleasure to hike.  The hillside is rocky, there is a "boardwalk" for the bikers, and in July the Wildflowers are amazing.  As the reach the bottom of the gully, you'll enter a pine and aspen forest, cross a creek and start heading back up the side of Belcher Hill.  When you get to the trail junction, turn left onto the Belcher Hill Trail and take this all the way back to the top of Belcher Hill...the views along this stretch are beautiful.  From the top of the hill wind you way back down to the parking area.

This trail is currently closed due to the 2013 flooding so check the park's webpage for more information.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cedar Gulch Trail to Summit Loop, Mt. Galbraith Park

Cedar Gulch Trail to Summit Loop
Mt. Galbraith Park

Date Hiked:  July 30, 2013

Distance: 4.3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 900f
Elevation Min/Max: 6,303 to 7,205ft
Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
Fee: None

Mt. Galbraith Park Website and Map (Jeffco)
Cedar Gulch Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver take I-70 west to Hwy 58 west to 93 North.  Turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road and proceed just a few miles.  The parking area and trailhead will be on your right.

Mt. Galbraith is a wonderful open space park, very close to Denver and Golden, and the Cedar Gulch Trail is the main attraction of this park. There are two trails up to the summit loop, this and the Nightbird Gulch Trail, and the Cedar Gulch Trail is by far the more popular.  The trail is a true pleasure to hike along and offers a great workout with fantastic foothill views.

From the parking area you switchback up the south side of Golden Gate Canyon and traverse the canyon wall until you reach the ridge line and descend down the other side of the ridge.  From here the trail winds down and back up towards the summit.  As you near the summit loop, you'll enter a recovering burn area with it's stark and contrasting beauty.  At the junction of the summit loop you have a choice, a prefer to turn right and continue uphill to the summit.  As you round the base of Mt. Galbraith you'll be treated to views out to the west and the continental divide, then to the south and Lookout Mountain.  The trail gets a bit rocky, but also very exciting.  After you hit the summit, you'll descend down the south face of the mountain and head back east.  The terrain and the views from this section are some of my favorite in the foothills.  Head down into the forest and soon you'll hit the Cedar Gulch Trail again.  Turn right and follow this trail back the way you came.

Mt. Galbraith is a gem and until recently a hidden gem.  The park is becoming more popular with hikers as it is one of the few Jeffco parks that is hiker-only.  I have nothing against Mountain Bikers but it is nice to not have to keep your eyes and ears peeled for oncoming bikes.  That aside, this is really a beautiful park, the hiking is moderate and exciting and the views are top notch.

Photos from May 13, 2011

Friday, July 26, 2013

Evergreen Mountain, Aldefer/Three Sisters Park

Evergreen Mountain
Aldefer/Three Sisters Park

Date Hiked:  July 26, 2013

Distance:  6 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 1,100ft

Elevation Min/Max: 7,441 to 8,536ft

Aldefer/Three Sisters Park Website (Jeffco)
Evergreen Mountain Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From downtown Evergreen, take 73 south and turn right (west) on Buffalo Park Rd.  Follow Buffalo Park Road until you see the parking lot on the right.  Cross the street to the East Evergreen Mountain Trailhead.

The hike up to Evergreen Mountain is the longest hike in the park and has the most elevation gain.  That being said it is a relatively easy trail.  The trail has a very moderate grade while still being exciting and fun to hike.  I suggest starting the loop from the East Evergreen Trail and descending via the West Evergreen Trail, this minimizes the uphill at the end of the hike.  The trail is easy to follow, take the E. Evergreen Mt. trail through evergreen forests and open meadows to the junction with the Summit Trail. Once on the Summit Trail, be sure to take the short detour on the Scenic View Trail to get some great views of Evergreen and the foothills.  Continue on to the summit at 8,536ft.  There are various rock outcroppings that offer views in every direction with a great view of Mt. Evans on a clear day.  On your way down, make a left at the trail junction and follow the West Evergreen Mountain Trail back down to Buffalo Park Road.  Make a right onto the Ranch View trail which will lead you back to the East Evergreen Trail and the parking area.

Evergreen Mountain is a wonderful peak to bag in the front range foothills, not as many people hike this trail as they do in the main part of the park and the views can't be beat.