Panorama Point via Mule Deer Trail, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Panorama Point via Mule Deer Trail - 11.0 miles
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
|Round-Trip Length:||11.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,662 - 9,311' (9,510' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+649' net elevation gain (+1,863' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Panorama Point via Mule Deer Trail - 11.0 Miles Round-Trip
The Mule Deer Trail is one of Golden Gate Canyon's longest trails, leading hikers through aspen stands and meadows to spectacular views of the Continental Divide from Panorama Point. This lengthy but moderate trail offers varied terrain, wildflowers, good year-round wildlife viewing, backcountry camping, and magnificent autumn colors.
From the Ole' Barn Knoll Trailhead, the Mule Deer Trail drops through an aspen-ponderosa park, crosses Mountain Base Road (.45 miles : 8,572') and rises steadily up a forested, south-facing hillside.
In .85 miles it merges with the Mule Deer Cutoff Trail (a .2 mile spur that connects an alternative starting location on Mountain Base Road to this point), beyond which the climb steepens up winding switchbacks with southwest views of the Gore Range and James Peak Wilderness.
The steady climb moderates in a thick forest (1.85 miles : 9,030') past connections for the Black Bear Trail (1.95' : 9,040') and Horseshoe Trail (2.35 miles : 9,075') to the edge of Frazer Meadows (2.45 miles : 9,065').
This .6 mile stretch arguably houses Golden Gate Canyon State Park's finest autumn colors. Look for signs of bear, elk, deer, coyote, fox, skunk and snowshoe hare in Frazer Meadows.
The trail continues mildly through Frazer Meadows past connections for the Coyote Trail and Natural Spring (2.5 miles : 9,080'), Greenfield Meadow Campground (2.55 miles : 9,112'), Backcountry Campsite #7 (2.6 miles : 9,135') and Backcountry Shelter #2 (2.7 miles : 9,217').
The trail enters a lodgepole forest, crests at 9,300' and winds steeply down a rocky service road to the 1st of two Aspen Campground access trails (3.85 miles : 9,100'). The Mule Deer Trail makes a hard left turn off the road toward Panorama Point within eyesight of the 2nd spur (4.2 miles : 9,225').
The trail is now markedly rugged, occasionally steep, and intermittently faint; remain vigilant, especially with lingering snow. Note this section loosely follows Gap Road, which leads to Panorama Point.
The Mule Deer Trail drops to and crosses Gap Road (5.35 miles : 9,360). Here it ends and merges with the Raccoon Trail; turn left on the Raccoon Trail for an easy jaunt to Panorama Point (5.5 miles : 9,311').
The boardwalks of Panorama Point offer sweeping views across a 100 mile stretch of the Continental Divide. A well-designed visitor pavilion features a useful identification map for dozens of Colorado's most notable peaks, including Torreys Peak (14,267'), Grays Peak (14,274'), Mt Evans (14,264'), James Peak (13,260'), Mt Audubon (13,223') and Longs Peak (14,256).
- N39 50.999 W105 26.718 — Ole Barn Knoll Trailhead
- N39 50.796 W105 26.539 — Cross Mountain Base Road (.45 miles : 8,572')
- N39 50.505 W105 26.311 — Mule Deer Cutoff Trail junction
- N39 50.478 W105 26.102 — Blue Grouse Trail junction
- N39 50.480 W105 25.666 — Trail levels in aspen-pine forest (1.85 miles : 9,030')
- N39 50.561 W105 25.601 — Black Bear Trail junction (1.95 miles : 9,040')
- N39 50.858 W105 25.746 — Horseshoe Trail junction (2.35 miles : 9,075')
- N39 50.948 W105 25.723 — Frazer Meadows (2.45 miles : 9,065')
- N39 50.974 W105 25.658 — Natural Spring access (2.5 miles : 9,080')
- N39 51.004 W105 25.598 — Greenfield Meadow Campground spur (2.55 miles : 9,112')
- N39 51.025 W105 25.593 — Backcountry Campsite #7 (2.6 miles : 9,135')
- N39 51.091 W105 25.595 — Backcountry Shelter #2 (2.7 miles : 9,217')
- N39 51.843 W105 25.184 — Aspen Campground access #1 (3.85 miles : 9,100')
- N39 52.104 W105 25.255 — Hard left toward Panorama Point (4.2 miles : 9,225')
- N39 52.180 W105 25.621 — Approaching Gap Road
- N39 52.527 W105 26.236 — Cross Gap Road to Mule Deer - Raccoon Trail junction
- N39 52.567 W105 26.460 — Panorama Point (5.5 miles : 9,311')
- Verdant meadows, abundant wildflowers, luxurious aspen groves, moderate terrain and numerous camping facilities make the Mule Deer one of the Denver-Boulder-Golden area's most versatile 3-season trails.
- There's a natural spring located .2 miles off the main trail within Frazer Meadows. A marked spur provides access. Always purify water from this spring before consumption.
- Before reaching the official trailhead and parking lot on Mountain Base Road, a rather anonymous turnoff and parking area gives access to the Mule Deer Cutoff Trail, which joins the main Mule Deer Trail at its .85 mile mark. Beginning here will shave 1.3 miles off the roundtrip distance described above.
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
- 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.
- Backcountry Camping - Shelters
- 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.
- Backcountry Camping - Tent Sites
- 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.
Directions to Trailhead
The Mule Deer trail begins at the Ole' Barn Knoll Trailhead on Mountain Base Road inside Golden Gate Canyon State Park (see map).
Take Highway 93 north from Golden to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Turn left and continue 12.9 miles up-canyon to the Park entrance and pull-in Self Service Fee Station on your right.
Take Highway 93 south towards Golden. Turn right on Golden Gate Canyon Road and continue 12.9 miles up-canyon to the pull-in Self Service Fee Station on your right.
From the Fee Station:
Continue 1.3 miles past the Fee Station on Golden Gate Canyon Road to Mountain Base Road. Veer Right on Mountain Base Road and travel another 1.4 miles to the parking area and trailhead on your left.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
3873 Highway 46
Golden, CO 80403