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Explore Golden's Winter Wonderland: Best Hikes and Essential Tips

Winter transforms Golden's stunning landscapes into a snowy paradise. Embrace the season and embark on unforgettable winter hikes that showcase the beauty of our mountainous surroundings. Whether you're a local looking for a new adventure or a visitor eager to experience Golden's natural wonders, we've compiled a list of the best winter hikes just for you. Be sure to check trail conditions before heading out. If trails are muddy, choose a paved path instead to protect the quality of Golden's beautiful trails.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Just a few minutes drive from town, Golden Gate Canyon can be a winter wonderland with snow frosted trees, or it can be a mild, dry hiking haven with spectacular views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area in the distance.  It all depends on the weather.  With acres and acres of evergreen forests and a huge network of trails with excellent signage and maps, this is a perfect beauty spot to take out-of-towners for some fresh air.  Don’t miss Panorama Point, which has one of the most awe-inspiring views of the Front Range.

Windy Saddle to Buffalo Bill’s Grave 

Half way up the Lariat Loop Trail to the summit of Lookout Mountain, there’s a wonderful trailhead at Windy Saddle with a switchbacking trail that climbs through evergreen forests to the summit of the mountain.  Here you can visit the Jefferson County Nature Center with exhibit on the elk, bear, and mountain lions who live in this forest, or push on to Buffalo Bill’s grave with its outstanding museum on the famous scout and showman.  Don’t miss the Buffalo Bill gift shop!  It’s filled with wacky and wonderful Old West Christmas gifts.

North Table Mountain

You don’t have to drive after this hike because the trailhead begins in the parking lot of New Terrain Brewing Co.  Just behind the brewery is a spur trail that leads to the main five-mile trail around this ancient volcanic outcrop of rock.  There are limited trees here, so it’s a good choice in winter with generally clear trails.  At the top is a lunar landscape of rock with horizon-filling views of downtown Denver in one direction and the foothills in the other. 

Clear Creek Trail & Peaks to Plains Trail

Everyone’s favorite all weather, year-round trail follows Clear Creek from the center of historic downtown Golden up into the foothills connecting to the Peaks to Plains Trail that winds through Clear Creek Canyon.  The trees along the creek are lined with thousands and thousands of twinkling holiday lights.  You’ll pass a historic farm museum (stop and feed the chickens) see ice flows that back up along the creekside, and continue on into pleasant evergreens.  If you want more hike, continue on the Peaks to Plains Trail which also connects to the restored wooden flume of the Welch Ditch on the south side of the creek.

Safety First: Tips for Winter Hiking

  1. Layer Up: Dress in layers to stay warm and regulate body temperature. Moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers are essential.

  2. Footwear Matters: Invest in insulated, waterproof boots with good traction to navigate snowy and icy trails safely. Crampons or snowshoes may also be necessary depending on snow depth and ice.

  3. Hydration: Even in colder temperatures, staying hydrated is crucial. Pack a water bottle and consider using an insulated sleeve to prevent freezing.

  4. Navigation Tools: Winter landscapes can be disorienting. Bring a map or GPS device to ensure you stay on course.

  5. Daylight Awareness: Days are shorter in winter, so plan your hike to ensure you have ample daylight. Always carry a reliable headlamp or flashlight just in case.

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