Round-Trip Length: 5.56 miles
Start-End Elevation: 7,971’ – 8,573′
Elevation Change: +602’
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: From Golden, go north on Highway 93. Drive 1.4 miles miles to Golden Gate Canyon Road, turn west. (There’s a good sized brown sign saying Golden Gate Canyon State Park before the turnoff). From this intersection it’s 11 miles to the visitor’s center. From the visitor’s center, turn right and drive another 2 miles to the bridge creek trailhead. Forgotten Valley Trail
Last weekend the weather forecast was for nice warm weather for Saturday and Sunday with snow expected for Monday. We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get out for a hike. The snow and cold temperatures did, indeed, come on Monday and it has been cold and snowy all week with record breaking temperatures of minus 14 degrees (the old record was minus 3 degrees set back in 1916)! As I sit and write this blog today, I am looking out the window and watching the snow continue to fall with the temperature at 15 degrees. I am glad we got out last weekend!
We hadn’t hiked in Golden Gate Canyon State Park in a couple of years so we decided to check out a new trail there. It’s a destination not too far from home and at a lower elevation for this time of year.
We drove to the visitor center and got our park permit and headed over to the Bridge Creek Trailhead to begin our hike. Here is an overview of our hike which includes a side trip to City Lights Ridge.
The trail quickly gains 100 feet in elevation in just the first quarter mile. After following the Burro Trail for 0.6 miles, we came to the intersection with the Mountain Lion Trail.
We took a left and continued on the combined Burro/Mountain Lion Trail.
After another 0.1 miles, the two trails split. We took a left onto the Mountain Lion Trail to continue on up to Forgotten Valley. The trail became an old jeep road. Looking back down from the direction we had come.
After 1.5 miles from the trailhead, we came to Forgotten Valley and the old Tallman Ranch. In the 1870s, as Colorado was becoming a state, families from Sweden were settling in the valleys of this area, about 10 miles from the mining fields of Black Hawk and Central City. Anders Tallman and his children were one of those families. He bought a one-room school house, moved it to this valley and added a porch and kitchen to make his home. Over the years, he added several buildings, two of which are still standing, along with the house. A sign near the homestead pond telling of the history and showing what it looked like long ago. The Tallman Ranch was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 1995.
A view looking across the pond at the homestead.
We hiked over to the homestead to look around. This looks like the remains of what used to be a barn.
Another outer building on the ranch that is still intact.
We continued on up past the ranch until we came to the intersection with the Buffalo Trail.
We took a right to loop back down to the homestead. A view of the pond as we headed back down.
We continued on down what looked like an old wagon road.
We decided to stop and take a break on the porch of the house, looking out over the pond and just enjoying the view and the nice day. There was a nice swing on the front porch perfect for a break!
Lisa and I enjoying the swing!
Our view as we sat and swung on the front porch.
Another couple was approaching the homestead so we decided it was time to give up the swing so they could enjoy it and we headed off around the pond. Looking back at the ranch from the far side of the pond.
A few more reflection shots of the ranch and the pond.
Lisa got a nice shot of a group of pinecones before we headed on down the trail.
Heading back down the trail.
We came back to the turn off for the side trail to the City Lights Ridge and decided to take it.
As we soon found out, this trail climbs 402’ in just ½ mile so it was quite a climb! Our view looking back down the valley as we climbed.
The climb continues!
We made it to the top of the ridge and we took in the magnificent views!
A look back down into Forgotten Valley. You can see the homestead pond where we had come from in the lower right corner of the picture.
A view to the west.
A view to east to the plains and I’m sure the “city lights” that you can probably see at night from this vantage point.
After taking in the views, we headed back down the trail.
With the late afternoon sun, I always like to capture some shadow pictures.
We made it back to the main trail and continued on in the direction of the trailhead. A look back at the City Lights Ridge where we had just come from. It looks more like a peak than a ridge to me!
We got back down to the trailhead and car and headed for home, glad that we had gotten out to enjoy the nice weather on this Sunday afternoon.