Hiding in plain site just minutes from the front range (about 20 minutes from the city of Golden), this is a hidden gem that doesn't get much traffic. It's not too long, but you could add some of the neighboring trails to make it harder. The aspen trees in this area are spectacular in September and October.
From the parking lot, get your heart pumping right away for a bit of steep climbing on mostly smooth trail of Blue Grouse
. There's one tight switchback, and then it mellows out and is easier until it meets Mule Deer Trail
Take a right turn on Mule Deer Trail
, go 100 feet, then immediate left (west) on Upper Mule Deer Trail
The trail is level, fast, and very playful. It's on the side of a very rocky slope, but excellent trail construction has made for fun little rock gardens with (usually) a perfectly smooth path winding through. It continuously looks like it's going to be tough, but magically a smooth line appears at the last minute.
Cross the road and parking area and pick up Mule Deer Trail
and continue heading uphill. You'll pass through meadows and aspen stands with lots of climbing, but a few breaks, and it's never too hard. The trail is butter smooth and easy.
At the top of the climb, you cross Gap Road and soon get to the intersection of Raccoon Trail
. This ride has you continuing straight, but you could take a right on Raccoon Trail
to reduce your vertical loss (and subsequent climb). Either way, you go around Panorama Point (well worth checking out as a side-trip with amazing views of the high peaks!).
Whichever route you took, you'll once again cross Gap Road and start heading back to the start. The trail on this side is a bit rockier, but intermediates will enjoy the minor challenges. There are a few minor flat-to-gentle-uphill sections, but the flow is great for 5 miles of downhill fun. The flow is beautiful, as is the forest and mountain views. This is some of the finest singletrack in the front range.
You'll pass Frazier Meadow, a homestead from the mid 1800's and now a particularly good place to see the aspens changing in the fall. Continue cruising down, through a short technical section with larger rocks and tight switchbacks until you hit the Blue Grouse
trail again. Enjoy the fast and fun last bit your car.