Hiking in Mt. Galbraith Park - Jefferson County, Colorado
Mount Galbraith Park is for hikers only. Bikes and equestrians are not allowed here. One of our favorite times to hike here is in Spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. We choose not to hike here in summer since it can get too hot, plus rattlesnakes are active - one guy unfortunately was a casualty here recently. One thing about hiking here is, it won’t take you all day. The trail is so short that you can do an easy morning hike and still get home in time for lunch or do other things. For many hikers, the trail here is probably not long enough, including my husband.
Mount Galbraith Park has 800 acres of open space with 4.6 miles of trails. Before it became a park, the town founders of Golden Gate City (does not exist anymore) and Golden City (Golden today) in 1859 built a steep and rough toll road up Golden Gate Canyon. During the Colorado Gold Rush, thousands of prospectors crossed Mount Galbraith’s ridges on their way to the goldfields of Black Hawk and Central City. In 1863, a better toll road up Clear Creek Canyon was built which led to the demise of Golden Gate City. To create this park, Jefferson County Open Space acquired 875 acres in 1995, through a land purchase from Brannan Sand & Gravel, a company that started in 1906 with a mule and a wagon.
TO GET HERE
The main trailhead is located along the meandering Golden Gate Canyon Road. Coming from Denver, it’s about a half-hour drive via US-6 West or I-70 West. At the intersection, take State Highway 93 and then left to Golden Gate Canyon Road. To the parking/trailhead is approximately 1.5 miles. Parking space is small so you have to be early, or go late in the day.
CEDAR GULCH & MT. GALBRAITH LOOP TRAIL - 4.6 miles
There are two ways to get on this trail but we always begin our hike from the Golden Gate Canyon Road trailhead. The other trail begins in a residential neighborhood, right before you reach the Golden Gate Canyon Road, but we never bothered since you have to park on a residential street. Hiking here, you will find out why bikers or equestrian are not allowed. Parts of the trails are very steep, narrow and rocky.
The beginning of the trail follows the Cedar Gulch Trail for about 1.3 miles. You will cross a little stream and then the trail meanders as it gets steeper. It connects to the Mt. Galbraith Loop Trail, about 1.6 miles around, then back to Cedar Gulch Trail where you started.
Note: Don’t take the Nightbird Gulch Trail since it will take you down to the other trailhead, to the neighborhood, far away from where you started. You can begin your hike there of course and then take the loop and back.
From Cedar Gulch Trail is a beautiful aerial view of the Golden Gate Canyon road, especially in Autumn when the cottonwood trees change their colors (photo below). You will hear the traffic noise at the beginning but once you get higher it will diminish.
From Mt. Galbraith Loop, you will see the town of Golden, the North and South Table Mountains and the plains to the east, as far as the eye can see. To the west is a good view of high mountains, especially Mount Evans.
What we love most about this trail is the many varieties of wildflowers to be found even just along the trail. Our hike takes longer in spring definitely compared to when we hike in winter or fall. Who can resist these colorful wildflowers? We definitely can't, see example below.
For more Wildflower photos and names, click the link.