If you hanker for a mountain hike, but don’t want to travel far from Denver, take a trip to Lookout Mountain. Spend a day or an hour or two. It’s your choice. The mountain offers both rigorous and easy hiking.
If you’d like to travel an early route taken by those headed for the Central City gold fields, try the trail up Apex Gulch. To get there, first head west from Denver along Colfax Avenue. Along your way you’ll pass Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner, a local landmark featuring both a larger than life sign, and a horse above the diner’s entrance. Colfax points slightly to the south as you approach Lookout Mountain, but when the road turns sharply south, you’ll know you’re almost there. Turn on Heritage Road toward Heritage Square.
The trail begins just to the north of the Heritage Square parking lot. Apex Trail is 2.8 miles long and connects with other trails. Should you wish to extend your hike beyond Apex Trail, Lookout Mountain Trail will lead you to Lookout Mountain Nature Center and beyond.
Heritage Square is itself an interesting destination, offering food, shopping, and other amusements including a working narrow gauge train and an Alpine slide. It occupies the site where Apex City once stood.
Another climbing possibility
Chimney Gulch Trail offers another climbing possibility. For a shorter hike, take Highway 6 to its intersection with 19th Street. But instead of turning right toward downtown Golden, take a left onto Lookout Mountain Road/Lariat Loop Road.
Stop at the parking area on your left to begin hiking the 1.5 mile distance to Windy Saddle Park. Once you arrive, don’t miss the view of Clear Creek Canyon to the west.
Descending Lookout Mountain
Alternately, should you prefer to descend, rather than, climb a mountain, and can form a two car caravan, park one vehicle at the base of the mountain and use the other to drop riders off at Windy Saddle. One group can hike while the other group takes in one of Golden’s museums such as the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum or the Colorado Train Museum.Traveling west from Windy Saddle Park, hikers have the options of trails leading to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum, or hiking the more rigorous Beaver Brook Trail which terminates in Genesee Park.