|Golden Gate (updated
Course description: A challenging 20km (approx), with 2,500' of climbing, between 8,350' - 9,500'. Terrain varies from steep and rocky, to smooth and fast, running through alpine meadows, pine and golden aspen forests, with gorgeous views of the continental divide.
1/22/14: The Mule Deer trail has been redesigned. The section from Frazer Meadow to Gap Rd, what was approx miles 2.5-5.0, has been moved from the service road to a new single track. This will shorten the course a bit, and cut out some climbing. This new section will officially open sometime this spring, so I won't have accurate measurements until later. For now, the working numbers are 20km in distance and 2,300' in climbing. The description below is for the old 12.7mi course. I'll update it when I have a chance to get onto the new trail, probably not until May or June.
See personal photos here of the course and races going back to 2003, including shots of the fall colors from a few days before 2010 race.
Aid Stations: Four aid stations at approximately 2.5, 5.5, 8.3, and 10.25 miles. The middle two will have water and sports drink; the first and last, water only.
Cut-off: 2:15 hours at the Bootleg Bottom aid station, the 8.3mi.
Rock by rock: The course will be extremely well marked for the race with lots of signs and accurately placed mile markers. I guarantee* that you won't get lost.
*entry fee refunded (not including online registration fees)
Click image below for larger view
Start on the road below the overlook lot, just below the driveway to the rangers’ house. Run up the paved road for ~200 yards, then go left onto the single-track Blue Grouse trail as it climbs into the aspens. There are a couple of switchbacks, then the trail traverses up to the Mule Deer jct, at ~0.8mi. Take a sharp right and go up the steep, wide, loose trail. The trail turns right and flattens out onto a single track as you pass mile 1 in a clearing. Enter into the pine forest, and start climbing again. Continue up through a few switchbacks. The trail turns right between some boulders at the first crest, ~1¾mi.
The next ¾mi is mostly flat. It starts slightly downhill through Aspens. Take a left at the trail jct after ~200 yards (mile 11 on the return). The trail curves back to the right and passes mile 2 at a short rise. Stay straight as you pass a trail on the right. You’ll run over some small aspen logs embedded in the trail, then an old bridge, as the trail opens up leading to the first aid station – Frazer Meadow, ~2.5mi. The aid station is at a junction with the Coyote trail. You’ll be returning here from the trail on the left.
Leaving the aid station, continue straight, north on the old jeep road. The road climbs steeply for ~0.3mi. This is the top of the second and shortest climb.
From the top, you start a series of descents on the jeep road. The first drop is fairly gradual leading to mile 3, along a flat, single-track stretch, in an open meadow. Continue through the meadow (it can be a little muddy here) and back into the trees. The road follows a series of loose, rocky, and steep curves. At the bottom, continue straight as you pass the Snowshoe Hare trail on your right, twice. Continue straight up the jeep road. This is the start of the third climbing section. Mile 4 is near the top of the first rocky crest. There's a short dip, then the rocky road continues to rise. As the road smooths out, look for a single track trail on the left (the road continues straight). This will be extremely well marked.
Go left onto a single-track trail. This trail is very steep and rocky in places, and continues to climb for ~2/3 mi. The course flattens out at ~9,500', the first of two high points on the course. You have a nice, fairly smooth and gradual downhill stretch for a while as you pass mile 5. However, you will soon come to a couple of very steep and rocky, short drops. The trail becomes nicer as you head down to Gap Rd. Cross the road to aid station #2, ~5.5mi.
Go right onto the Raccoon trail at the aid station, and head back into the forest. This is a fairly smooth, gradual downhill stretch, with room to pass. The trail curves back to the W, and becomes little narrower as you pass through aspen groves and mile 6. Sneak a peak at the continental divide through the trees, but be careful of your footing. You will hit a couple of very steep and loose descents. The trail opens up at the bottom. You might have a good view of the peaks from here. Cross a bridge to the right, then turn left and head up the wide trail.
Head into the pine forest up a series of gradual to moderate climbs. The path is fairly wide and smooth. You’ll pass some small trails on the right. Pass mile 7 and continue up to the trail junction to Panorama Point. Don't go there. Stay right at that junction and continue climbing another ~250 yards to Gap Road. This is the end of the fourth climbing section.
Cross the road, and head onto the Elk Trail. You have a one more short climb. Then head down the path passing a dirt road and gate on the right. The trail turns into a single-track. There are a couple of step-like drops, then you come to an open, grassy meadow. If you’re a good, technical runner, you can really fly here. Pass mile 8 in a small grove of aspens, then back into an open, grassy meadow. The grass can be as tall as you here. You’ll make a sharp left at the sign to Bootleg Bottom. Go down a short, steep trail, cross the creek, then climb up to the road. Cross the road to aid station #3, ~8.3mi, at Bootleg Bottom.
Leaving the aid station, you’re now on the Coyote trail. The trail curves left around the picnic tables. It starts flat, then drops to cross a small creek. Now the big climb begins, ~600’, in 2/3 mi. It starts mild as it curves left. You’ll run past an old shack. A bit past the shack, make a sharp right turn (there’s an abandoned trail that continues straight, but shortly ends). The trail now gets steeper and rockier. After a long, straight stretch, you go left at the first of a series of switchbacks, and pass mile 9. Continue climbing. After a right switchback, the trail seems to flatten out a bit. You're near the top, but don’t be fooled. The last 75’ or so is extremely steep, rocky, and un-runable. You’ll need you’re hands to scramble up some of the boulders. It's a climb, but not a technical one. This is the second high point. If you want to take the time, turn around and look at the view. There are some rock ledges, off to the right of the trail, that are great for photographs.
It’s almost all downhill from there to the finish. The start of the descent is moderately steep, but pretty rocky. You’ll hit a couple of flat stretches and short rises on the way down. Mile 10 is near the top of a small climb. Just after mile 10, you’ll hit a very steep and rocky downhill section. This then leads to a flat stretch, through some thicker aspens, and back to Frazer meadow, aid station #4, the first aid station you passed on the way up.
Go right, back onto the Mule Deer trail, and retrace your steps to the start. After crossing the logs embedded into the trail, you have almost ¾mi of mostly flat single track, with good footing. Stay straight as you pass the trail on the left. Past the 2 mile mark, follow the trail around to the left, to mile 11, at the junction with the Horseshoe trail. Go right at the junction. through the aspens, then left between the boulders
Head back down the switchbacks, through the pine trees. The trail opens up as you pass by mile 1, leading to a very slight rise. Head down a very steep and loose, wide path. Make a sharp left at the trail junction, back onto the Blue Grouse trail. Mile 12 is just after the turn. Head back into the trees. Continue down through some rocks and switchbacks. You come out of the aspens about 75 yards above the finish. The finish line is at the end of the dirt.
Driving & Parking: Please carpool to save money, gas and carbon.
Create your own map/directions and/or follow the directions below.
Get to the junction of hwys 93 and Golden Gate Cyn Rd (hwy 46) in Golden:
Alternate directions from Boulder (and Nederland): Take hwy 119 9.7mi south from Nederland. Just south of mile marker 16, turn left at the park sign onto Gap Rd. Follow the signs into the park. Turn right at Mtn Base Rd and go 3mi down the steep hill. Or, continue S on hwy 119, about 3 mi past Gap Rd, to Golden Gate Canyon Rd. Turn left and go 3.7mi down the hill. Turn left at Mtn Base Rd.
Parking: Please carpool to save money, gas and carbon. Parking at Kriley Pond Overlook (start/finish) will be held for carpoolers. Additional parking is available along hwy 46, only W, up from Mtn Base Rd; or inside the park, further away from the start. Late arrivers may have to walk 1 mile or more to the start. No race parking at Kriley Pond without your own park pass!
Carpool: Please carpool to save money, gas and carbon. The best parking will be reserved for those who carpool.
DenverTrail Runners - Post a message to the group.
BoulderTrailRunners - Post a message to the group.
Incline Club - Colo Springs area. Post a message on their message board.
Or, on race day, meet at N. Rubey Drive, in Golden, near the junction of Iowa & hwy 93, ~3/4 mi N of hwys 6 & 58, and 1/2 mi S of Golden Gate Cyn Rd. There's an oval shaped grassy area with parking spots all around. It's about a 30 min drive from there to the start. You'll have to seek out other racers and arrange rides on your own from there. Please leave there by 7:00am so that you have plenty of time to find your way, park, register, use the bathroom, and warm-up before the race.