Raccoon Loop Trail, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Raccoon Loop Trail - 2.3 miles
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
|Round-Trip Length:||2.3 miles (add 1 mile roundtrip if starting at Reverend's Ridge Campground)|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,311' - 9,311' (9,365' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+54' net elevation gain (+555' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Raccoon Loop Trail - 2.3 Miles Round-Trip
The Raccoon Loop Trail passes through Golden Gate Canyon State Park's upper-montane and lower subalpine forests, an ecotone shared by lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, blue spruce, white fir, limber pine and aspen. The trailhead at Panorama Point is a worthy destination itself, featuring a gazebo that overlooks a 100 mile stretch of the Continental Divide. A new pavilion provides useful peak-identification maps and area information. The following description travels clockwise on the Raccoon Trail:
The Raccoon Trail begins on the east (right) side of the Panorama Point gazebo, dropping fast and bending west through a luxuriant mix of spruce, fir and aspen. It moderates briefly through .45 miles down to the Elk Trail junction (.63 miles : 9,150').
Bear right (north) and follow signs toward Reverend's Ridge Campground. The trail eases on a service road lined by notably tall aspen and a bright collection of wildflowers. The narrow valley through which you're passing opens upon reaching a sparingly marked access road-trail for Reverend's Ridge Campground (1.05 miles : 8,960'). Keep straight.
In 1.2 miles (8,915') wooden guard rails guide you off the service road right, then left past private property to resume the loop. The trail hastily begins a demanding southeast climb through magnificent aspen stands framed by towering promontories. The steep grade relaxes through 1.6 miles, a good place to survey the aspen-studded slopes through which you're passing.
The trail crosses a small creek (1.85 miles : 9,295') and trends northwest up to Gap Road (2.1 miles : 9,365'). The Raccoon Trail edges back into the forest, undulating gently beside Gap Road back to Panorama Point (2.3 miles : 9,311'). Note the trail ends on the east side of the parking lot, a few steps away from where you began by the gazebo.
- N39 52.553 W105 26.446 — Panorama Point Trailhead
- N39 52.332 W105 26.748 — .63 miles : Raccoon Trail - Elk Trail junction
- N39 52.693 W105 26.682 — 1.05 miles : Reverend's Ridge Campground access spur
- N39 52.805 W105 26.667 — 1.2 miles : Bear right off service road; begin climb
- N39 52.516 W105 26.006 — 1.85 mile mark
- N39 52.530 W105 26.240 — 2.1 miles : Reach Gap Road
- N39 52.553 W105 26.446 — 2.3 miles : Panorama Point Trailhead
- Torreys Peak (14,267'), Grays Peak (14,274'), Mt Evans (14,264'), James Peak (13,260'), Longs Peak (14,256') and Mt Audubon (13,223')are among dozens of identifiable peaks from Panorama Point.
- This short multi-use trail is well-suited for fit families or those with limited time.
- Views from Panorama Point, campground proximity, popularity among mountain bikers and brilliant autumn colors attract heavy crowds. Arrive early to secure parking and a measure of solitude. Be especially cognizant of fast-moving cyclists on steep sections.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Reverend's Ridge Campground
- Reverend's Ridge Campground has 97 sites and accommodates trailers, pickup campers, and tents. Facilities include flush toilets, shower and laundry facilities and a dump station. Some facilities are closed during cold weather months. 59 sites have electrical hookups. Each pedestal has 20, 30, and 50 amp capability. Non-electrical sites are $16 per night, $18 per night May 1st- Sept 30th. Electrical sites are $20 per night, $22 per night May 1st- Sept. 30th. A $7 park pass is required for each vehicle. Each site is limited to a maximum of 6 people.
- The Reverend's Ridge office is located off of Gap Road. The office is open seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend- September 30. 303.642.3856.
- Aspen Meadows Campground has 35 sites for tents only. Facilities include a water pump, vault toilets, and designated campsites with table, fire rings, and tent pads. All sites are $16 per night, $18 per night May 1st- Sept. 30th, plus a $7 park pass for each vehicle. 6 person max at each site. Sites #15 and #16 accommodate horses (call for specific information). This campground closes in mid-October and typically opens mid-May, depending on weather.
- There are 4 backcountry shelters at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. These three-sided structures are built in the Appalachian trail-hut style with roofs and wood floors. Each can sleep up to 6 people without a tent. Shelters are $10 per night, $12 per night May 1st- Sept. 30th, plus the $7 vehicle park pass.
- There are 20 backcountry tent sites open year-round . Backcountry Camping Permits must be obtained at the Visitors Center. Fires are not permitted in the backcountry. 6 person max at each site. Tent sites are $10 per night, $12 per night May 1st- Sept. 30th, plus the $7 vehicle park pass.
Aspen Meadows Campground
Backcountry Camping - Shelters
Backcountry Camping - Tent Sites
Rules and Regulations
- There is a $7 entry fee to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. You may pay at the Visitor Center or, if closed, use the self-pay station located beside it on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Display payment verification as instructed.
Directions to Trailhead
The Raccoon Loop Trail begins at the Panorama Point Trailhead in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
Take Highway 93 north from Golden one mile to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Turn left and continue 13 miles to the Visitor Center. Continue 1.25 miles past the Visitor Center to Mountain Base Road. Turn right on Mountain Base Road and drive 3.2 miles to Gap Road. Turn right on Gap Road. The Panorama Point Trailhead and parking area is located .5 miles up on the left.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
3873 Highway 46
Golden, CO 80403