Burro Trail: Golden Gate Canyon

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Getting back on the trail

It had been about two weeks since we had done a proper hike. Walking around the Paint Mines was more of a stroll than a hike and Joshua Tree was more driving than anything else, so we were due for some mountain time.

It may sound like we are always so excited to go on a hike, but sometimes we would prefer to just chill. This was the case this past weekend. I had been feeling under the weather and super sluggish, but I was also feeling cooped up and anxious. I needed to get out in fresh air. The weather was a balmy 70F and the sun was out. Perfect day for a hike, but also a perfect day to be lazy on an outdoor cafe. It was such a tough choice!

The Burro Trail: Golden Gate Canyon State Park

We dragged our butts out of the house and drove to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which is just outside the town of Golden. It takes about 45 mins from Denver to reach the visitor center and it’s a beautiful drive up the mountains.

I mentioned to the hub that I wanted to go for a longer hike, so he picked the Burro Trail. Once we started the trail I realized we were not on the same page. By longer hike, I meant “easy, for a couple hrs”, which the hub understood, “Tough, high incline, high elevation.” The Burro Trail is really meant to make you wish you had a donkey, because it’s one of the toughest hikes we have done lately. Starting at 7,900 ft, it’s 4.5 miles long with an additional 2.6 miles if you want to reach the Windy Peak and almost 1,000 ft elevation.

Having been at sea level for a week and off the trail for 2 weeks, our bodies and minds were not ready for this hike. It was a constant fight against the effects of altitude, exhaustion and mental fatigue. I must have said “I am going to die!” a few dozen times, which were followed by “I am going to conquer this B!” My own form of pep talk. For the first time in a long time, I actually considered turning back and just calling it quits. But we pushed on. We did the Burro Trail in 5hrs and ended up hiking around 6 miles total. We bailed out on Windy Peak because the sun started setting and we just didn’t have enough energy to spend on the extra hike.

Trail Conditions

We had snow last week and warm weather ever since, so the conditions on the trail were varied. At the bottom was dry and dusty and as we hiked up, the trail turned to slush and at some points a creek from the snow run-off. Closer to the peak and in shady areas, the snow was packed and spikes or snowshoes could have been used.

Although we have done other hikes with elevation gain of 1,000 ft, this was harder because the trail goes up and down almost the entire way. It feels like you are hiking the 1,000 ft a few times.

Since Burro Trail is a difficult hike, it only sees moderate usage. In the 5 hrs we were on the trail we saw maybe 7 people total. Although not much used, the trail was clear and the signs on the trees or on the ground were visible and easy to understand.

We hope to do this trail again in the future and see if our impression changes if we are better prepared physically and mentally, If you attempt it, the trail offers beautiful open views of the surrounding mountains, running creeks along the trail and even a wood teepee.

For more information on this trail and the park in general, click here.

Happy trails, explorers!

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