Looking for a challenging hike in the Denver area? The Chimney Gulch Trail is great for the hiker looking for an uphill challenge while staying close to the Denver, Colorado.
How to Get to the Trail
The Chimney Gulch Trail starts at a dirt parking lot off of U.S. 6, which is outside of Golden, CO. This is about twenty minutes from Denver. If approaching from the south, the parking lot will be on the left side of the road, with a field visible. There is flagging or a windsock visible for para-gliders landing in the field. An alternative parking lot is at Windy Saddle, which is off the road on the way to the summit of Lookout Mountain.
Hiking the Chimney Gulch Trail
The Chimney Gulch Trail is about two miles in, and two miles back to the trailhead, with the first half of the hike completely uphill. From the parking lot at U.S. 6, follow the obvious dirt trail through the field, which then cuts sharply to the left uphill. Hike past a concrete structure, and continue uphill. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers while hiking, as this is a shared-use trail.
The trail cuts up through a ravine, and intersects with a dirt road in a residential neighborhood. Follow the trail signs to link up with the trail again, and continue hiking through another ravine. The trail ends at the Windy Saddle parking lot. Return to the U.S. 6 parking lot via the same trail.
There are some switchbacks on the trail, with the route following along the terrain, instead of cutting straight up the hill. The trail has a tread comprising mostly of dirt, and has uneven surfaces. With the uphill grade and being close to the city, a hiker can get in a good workout after work before heading home. Consider bringing a heavier pack if training for a longer trip.
Things to See on the Chimney Gulch Trail
Near the bottom of the trail, hikers can find yucca plants and small cactus growing along either side of the trail. For most of the first half of the hike visitors can turn around and see the city of Golden below. At Windy Saddle, the trail ends near the start of pine trees, with a view of the Colorado high peaks beyond.
Trail Extensions from Chimney Gulch
From where the trail ends at Windy Saddle, one can continue up Lookout Mountain via the Lookout Mountain Trail. This trail ends near the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. The center has interesting displays, as well as restroom facilities and water fountains to refill water bottles. There are also a few smaller loop trails next to the center.
Considerations When Hiking the Chimney Gulch
Some things to keep in mind when hiking the Chimney Gulch Trail include:
- Think about hiking this trail during the springtime after the snow melts. It’s just warm enough to enjoy the trail without the hotter temperatures of the summer.
- Be aware of other hikers and mountain bikers. This is especially true when walking around corners. Trail signs along the route say that hikers have the right of way.
- Wear sturdy shoes, and bring a hiking stick or trekking poles, as the trail can be rocky and uneven at times.
- Hikers who bring dogs onto the trail should keep them leashed, and bring bags to clean up waste.
- Visitors are not permitted to pick wildflowers along the trail.