Golden Gate Canyon State Park is 30 miles and about an hour drive from downtown Denver, Colorado. The Blue Grouse trail head is located in the western end of the park on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Activities include fishing, hiking, hiking with kids, trail running, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking with dogs. Parking can found at Kriley Pond and above Kriley Pond at the end of a roundabout; which includes space for horse trailers. A daily park pass or annual state park pass is required at all parking lots. The roundabout parking lot did not include restrooms or water but the Kriley Pond parking lot did include restrooms. Cell phone service is intermittent while in the park.
Kriley Pond was bustling with families picnicking and fishing along its edge. It is stocked by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and includes enough accessible shoreline to support numerous fishermen. Kriley Pond’s close proximity to the Blue Grouse trailhead make it an ideal destination for families who want to enjoy fishing and hiking from one location; similar to Ramsay-Shockey Open Space west of Loveland, CO. A Colorado fishing license is required to fish the pond and park officials should be consulted regarding a daily bag limit.
Blue Grouse trail is a 0.7 mile multi-use trail that starts at 8,400 feet and gently climbs to 8,800 feet. It starts with a short climb but is an easy trail to hike. Several mountain bikers were seen (not heard) screaming down the trail with enthusiasm.
After the initial climb, Blue Grouse trail levels off and gradually climbs via gentle twists and turns. Our 2 1/2 year old enjoyed walking along this trail and climbing the small boulders found along the way.
During our mid-July hike, there were numerous blooming plants which I have yet to identify. Do you know what the following orange colored flower is?
The Blue Grouse trail ends at an intersection with the Mule Deer trail. Mule Deer trail is 5.2 mile multi-use trail that runs from Ole’ Barn Knoll to Panorama Point. At its intersection with Blue Grouse, we took a right and headed east towards the Rim Meadow. The trail starts by running along the edge of a ridge and provides unobstructed views to the south.
We only hiked about a mile east before needing to turn around. We needed to carry our daughter in a child carrier on this trail because it was steeper and she was getting tired. We were hoping to make it to Rim Meadow because other hikers said it was beautiful but we ran out of time. At our turnaround point, the trail was beginning to ascend via switchbacks and the forest canopy was becoming more dense. The following picture is westward facing and was taken at our turnaround point. It includes the western rocky mountains that come into view as this trail continues to climb.
In sum, Kriley Pond, Blue Grouse trail, and Mule Deer trail are a hub of activity because fishermen, hikers, families, and mountain bikers can all experience Golden Gate Canyon State Park from one trailhead. In addition, we enjoyed camping at Reverends Ridge campground, which can serve as a home base for exploring all of the trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.