At about 20 minutes from my house in Denver, this is probably the closest hike I’ve ever done outside of North Table Mountain. It’s also in Golden and beats the pants of that hike. What it’s lacking in the form of a big payoff view or destination, it makes up for in pleasantly cool, shaded hiking that follows a stream and gets minimal traffic for being so close.
The hike reminds me of Horsetooth in Fort Collins in terms of length and difficulty. There were a few mountain bikers and I expect that number would go up significantly in the summer months given how many were around with the trail currently mostly snow and mud.
It starts in a parking lot with a restroom. No parking fee, dogs allowed on leash (though only 1 of the 5 dogs we encountered were on leashes). I didn’t see many bags of dog waste laying around which was nice. The hike itself is about 5 1/2 miles, though there are many opportunities to loop back if you’re not feeling it. It’s almost entirely up hill on the way toward the back end of the loop.
The hike itself follows a stream up through a typical Colorado environment. You eventually veer a bit off into a more densely wooded and nicely shaded area that moves away from the stream. For the most part it’s very quiet and the trails were all extremely well marked.
The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is that several houses overlook the trail. It’s really not a huge deal, but looking up and seeing a bunch of big houses in places does take you out of the experience a bit. That said, they’re not too bad and given how close the trail is to Golden and Denver that’s a pretty small complaint.