Monday, December 14, 2009

Goat Mountain, Start of the Colorado Trail, Waterton Canyon, CO

Goat Mountain at 7,797 feet is west of Sedalia in Waterton Canyon, which is the start of the Colorado Trail (CT); click here to check out the CT site. The entire trail is 7.3 miles and can take anywhere from 4.5-6 hours depending on your hiking speed.

Getting There:  To get there take C-470 and exit Wadsworth Blvd (Colorado 121 S) going South. Follow Wadsworth south for 4.3 miles; there are many Waterton Canyon Signs along the way. Turn Left onto S. Platte Canyon Road, this is well marked, and shortly after your turn there is a large parking lot to the left or east, park there and cross the street at the large crosswalk to enter the Canyon; Click here for google map.  There are NO dogs allowed in the Canyon to protect the mountain goat population per their trail sign.

The Journey:

I woke up this Monday morning early in hopes to finish a few things on my website before choosing a trail and heading out of the house by 9am. I had already made plans this afternoon with baby Jillian and had to be at a friends house by 1:00, so I needed to be off the trail by 12:30.

Part of the hike to one of the false peaks and ridgeline

After leaving my house much later than planned, I arrived to start my hike at 10:45am, one hour later than I had wanted to. But I was determined to attempt the summit of Goats Mountain.
To start the hike, cross the street from the parking lot at the large crosswalk; after crossing you will find a trail map of Waterton Canyon. Follow the road, which is the start of the historic Colorado Trail along the river for about 10 minutes until you reach a very obvious two track that veers right off the road, heading up the mountain. Take the two track and you will begin to climb the mountain with great views of the rushing rapids and road below.

After a short time you will see water pipes that cross the river, in between the entrances to the two pipes is a trail heading up the steep mountain to the right. It is NOT easy to see, you have to walk over to the mountain and look for it, but once you start on the trail it's obvious, it's just so steep that it's easy to miss on the way up.

Starting up the trail is very difficult, but once you get up to the ridge it really levels off into a gradual climb.
You aren't able to see the top of Goats Mountain in the distance when you reach the ridgeline, it's hidden,  and it was then I realized I wouldn't make it to the top of the mountain and back to the car in time to make it to Heather's house by 1:00pm. Trip reports that I have read since doing the hike estimate the time anywhere from 4.5-6.5 hours round trip depending on conditions. But after having such a difficult time getting out the door and finding the trail, I was bound to give it my best effort in the time that I had.

The photo above on the right shows the highlighted route along the ridgeline to the top. While walking along the ridgeline you have views of the front range mountains, the city and vast plains. I saw many deer along the hike on the surrounding mountains and their tracks were visible in the snow all over the trail but I didn't see any mountain goats, however after reading several trip reports  and blogs recently, people are spotting them all over the canyon!
The trail gradually climbs with some very steep areas giving way to plateaus. This hike is completely out in the open with no shade, and is best hiked in the spring, fall or winter, or just on a cool day.
Long pants are a must on this hike; you have to walk through lots of scrub oak which is rough on the legs and arms. The hike begins to get very steep in the last 1.5 hours before the peak and per the trail reports continues to be steep all the way up to the top with some class 2-3 scrambling to hit the summit.
I made it past a couple of false peaks, but not to the summit, when my time ran out and I had to start down.   In the photo to the right you can see the snow path along the ridgeline.
I made it back to the car shortly after 12:30, but I jogged as much as I could on the way down.
All in all it was a great hike on a sunny blue sky Colorado day, and I look forward to coming back to Waterton Canyon, sans dogs, to summit Goat Mountain.  .

You can click on the map below for directions to the parking lot where you start the hike.

View Larger Map


  1. Well, I'm not typically critical of a posting, but this is an exception.

    It was briefly an interesting trail guide until you included that incredibly dumb link to your clothing website. It's quite unfortunate that people choose to use a hiking forum as a platform to promote their business instead of using it for what it was meant for, which is to provide helpful information on trail use, restrictions, nature awareness and safety for trail users.

    Let me clarify a few facts from your trail guide.

    Waterton Canyon / Goat Mountain is not the start of the Colorado Trail. The start of the Colorado Trail is up the South Platte Rive access road 6-7 miles, just beyond the Strontia Springs Dam.

    There is no class 3 climbing on the Goat Mountain trail, there are a few areas of class 2 hiking with some very minor rock scrambling on the ridges and the summit.

    If you choose to climb up and over a rock outcropping, then you are actively seeking a harder climbing experience. Other than the summit, all rock outcroppings and ridges have alternate north face traverse options to bypass any difficult rock scrambling.

    Judging by your 1:45 minute roundtrip timeline of hiking, unless you are Wonder Woman, you were no where near the summit of Goat Mountain. You likely made it to the base of the first of 3 false summits. The funny part is that the little photoshop guideline that you drew on the second photograph that you posted above, you are actually indicating the first false summit of Goat Mountain.

    "sans dogs"??
    What, are you one of those bra burning organic graphic designer girls or something that includes typeface terminology in their vocabulary? OK then...

    You had mentioned that you did not see any mountain goats during your hike. As far as I am aware of, there has never been a sighting of a mountain goat on Goat Mountain, despite the name of the mountain. There are however occasional sightings of bighorn sheep, mule deer and the rarely seen mountain lion.

    A moderate paced hiker should be able to leave the Waterton Canyon parking lot, summit the mountain and arrive back at the parking lot in 4-5 hours.

  2. Anonymous, Thanks for reading my trail blog that I started a few years ago to post about hikes that I take, and products that I use on the trails and while camping. As for your comments: The Colorado Trail does start in Waterton Canyon, you can check their sites or maps out here; Or here:
    Also, in The Official Guide to the CT, it states the starting point is Waterton Canyon 39.491279 - 105.0944 The first 5.8 miles are inside Waterton Canyon; at miles 5.8 is wheen you reach Strontia Springs Dam; also the photo on the top of this post is from the start of the CT.

    Second, The 'class 3' or what I actually said was 'Class 2-3' climbing was per another hiking blog that I linked to. Unfortunately there is no 'official' Goat Mountain summit site, like many of the mountains in Colorado, and all information is from trail maps/topo maps and trail blogs. Furthermore, the trail blogs which I linked to had several statements of mountain goat sightings; as did the Waterton Canyon Trail Sign, stating that 'dogs were not allowed in the canyon due to the mountain goat population.' Whether people are seeing bighorn sheep and mistake them for mountain goats, I don't know. As for the rest of your statements; since you chose to post your comments anonymously, I don't feel compelled to defend myself; just my content, which I stand behind.

  3. Well I liked your review Jennifer as it will help me when I climb this Goat Mountain on Monday. As far as the anonymous response, who the F**k cares about all that useless detail, geez I thought the outdoor community was a tight knit family... chill out dude, show some love, if I wanted to read that kind of harsh criticism I would pick up the Denver City News Paper. I thought the whole point to getting into nature was to get away from people like you.