Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mount Galbraith Park, Jefferson County Open Space; A short hike on an icy trail

Icy trail at Mount Galbraith
One of my favorite Jefferson County Open Space Parks is Mount Galbraith for several reasons; great views, this is a hiker only trail so it's less crowded without bikers/equestrian riders, and I always find an abundance of wildflowers here in the spring to photograph.  Plus, Mount Galbraith is one of the first trails my husband and I hiked when we first moved to Colorado over 8 years ago and whenever I step on the trail I think of how excited I was when we first did this so many years ago. 
It had been a long time since I did the 4.2 mile loop here and I was excited to hit the trail, but it didn't take long to realize that the trail was really icy and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to hike the loop with the slick conditions, but I kept pushing forward.  After about 400 yards up the mountain I came across a group of hikers who were coming down; they all had crampons and hiking poles in both hands.  They said it was really icy the farther up the trail went, and crampons were a needed; they also questioned if my dogs could handle the hike, which I thought was odd.  The dogs are way better on the ice than I am, and surely they both could hike days longer than me. 

Getting there:  From Golden, Colorado take State Hwy 93 to Golden Gate Canyon Road in North Golden; drive into the canyon approximately 1.5 miles until you reach the trailhead on the left side of the road.  Click here for google map of trailhead. 
Specs:  The trailhead has pit toilets; and 4.2 miles of trails for hikers only.  Dogs can be offleash pretty easily here, but Jeffco Rules state dogs must be on a leash, of course.  This trail has a seperate access from the neighborhood along Hwy 93 which is a lot of fun as well.  Here is the website for this trail. 

The Hike:  After running into the group of hikers who said the trail only gets worse, and I couldn't imagine hiking down on all of this ice without falling, I decided to head back to the car to hike somewhere else.  I called the dogs and said we were turning around; but neither of them budged and they whined as I started back down the trail; they really wanted to hike!  Even though I only hiked a few hundred yards, I wanted to include this hike into the blog because it is one that I have done numerous times before.  The trail is a loop, but it starts out with a 1.3 mile hike to the trail split on the Cedar Gulch Trail, where you can choose to go right or left around the 1.6 mile  Mount Galbraith loop trail; then back the 1.3 miles to the parking lot.  I really enjoy trails that provide views and this trail does just that; for the first 1.3 miles the trail continues around the side of Mount Galbraith and provides views of the foothills, North Table Mountain, the city of Golden and mountains beyond.  Once you reach the trail split, choose either direction and start around the loop; there are some great views of the larger foothills and snowcapped peaks in the distance on the south side of the loop.  I usually stop on one of the flat rocks for lunch before finishing up the loop and then heading back down; the hike takes me 2-3 hours depending on how much I stop or how many photos that I snap. 
Some other trails in the area are, Centennial Cone Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, North Table Mountain, and the Fairmount Trail from Arvada to Golden.

Here are some of my photos from a winter hike at Mt. Galbraith a few years ago below.

Views of Golden, Colorado and North Table Mountain. 

Views looking west at the Foothills beyond. 

More views! 

Signs of spring in January!

My favorite part of the hike is the first mile; here you can see the trail going around the mountainside. 

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