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.
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|
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.
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