Sunday, March 23, 2014
Mount Galbraith Park - Nightbird Gulch
Mount Galbraith Park via Nightbird Gulch Trail
Jefferson County Open Space
Date Hiked: March 23, 2014
Distance: 4.9 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,296ft
Park Website (Jefferson County)
Nightbird Gulch Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: To get to the Nightbird Gulch trailhead, you need to find the neighborhood access. As neighborhood access, goes, this is pretty good. There is a long curb for parking and a clear trail sign, please be respectful of the residents as this is a neighborhood street. From Denver, take I-70 west to 58 towards Golden. Turn right (north) on Hwy 93. At the traffic signal turn left on Iowa Drive and then Right on Canyon Point Circle, the trailhead is on the right.
The trail starts by climbing a wood staircase, then you traverse the east slope of Mount Galbraith for a few switchbacks before entering Nightbird Gulch. This is a really fun trail, it is rocky and rugged and makes for a more wildernessy experience. Nightbird Gulch makes you feel like you are hiking in the deserts of Nevada, the trail is lined with prickly pear cactus. The trail switchbacks up the gulch until you reach the saddle. From here you connect with the Mount Galbraith Loop trail at 1.7 miles. The loop is 1.5 miles and climbs to the summit of Mount Galbraith, through open hillsides and pine forest. The trail gets rocky and treacherous when icy. After you hit the high point (not the real summit) you start to descend along the south face of the mountain and are rewarded with wonderful views of Lookout Mountain, Golden, the Table Mountains, and if you look way to the west you can just make out Mount Evans popping up over the horizon. The trail reconnects with Nightbird Gulch, and down you go.
I don't quite know why, but this park seems just a little more rugged and hidden away then the other Jefferson County Open Space Parks. I've hiked here dozens of times and It never gets old. It's not as crowded as Mount Falcon or White Ranch even though it is the closest park to Golden. Maybe it's because the whole park is hiker only, maybe it's just the scenic nature of the mountain. Whatever it is, Nightbird Gulch offers a less crowded trail and simply a fun hike, Enjoy!