Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers trails that go to historic structures, viewpoints and lakes. On the far east side of the park, the Mountain Lion and Burro trails form a loop that has side trails to a view point and an old quarry.
The far east trailhead is Nott Creek. The trail starts next to the bathrooms where a sign tells hikers they are at the Mountain Lion Trailhead.
The single-track, dirt trail winds up a hill, through the trees. At the first trail split, you can start the loop in either direction, but I recommend turning right, toward the Deer Creek Campsites and Quarry Trail.
Turn on the old dirt road and as you hike, enjoy the views of the surrounding hillsides, forests and meadows. The trail has some ups and downs with a pretty good drop down to a Deer Creek with a bridge crossing.
Cross Deer Creek and you’ll come to a trail split. A sign tells visitors to turn right for the quarry site 0.6 miles away.
Now it’s time for another uphill hike. The trail gains about 350 feet in elevation to the quarry.
The quarry is in a rock outcropping with an area that looks like it’s been dug out or blasted out. Holes in the rock wall resemble blasting holes in a mine.
While no sign explains the history of the quarry, a Jefferson County report on cultural resources says there were many quarries and mines throughout Jefferson County.
After exploring a bit, return the 0.6 miles back to the main Mountain Lion Trail. Turn right and continue on the loop. A sign here says Windy Peak is 2.8 miles away.
Over the next 2.8 miles, you’ll pass by four backcountry campsites, cross Deer Creek numerous times and walk through thick forests. When you get to a series of steep switchbacks, you’ll be getting close to the Burro Trail turnoff. Enjoy the scenery, because there’s 1,000 feet of elevation in the 2.3 miles to the spot where the Mountain Trail and Burro Trail join together. Follow the arrows for Windy Peak.
There’s another steep climb of 100 feet of elevation in 0.1 miles to the Windy Peak turnoff. Take the Windy Peak spur trail.
Because you’re climbing a mountain, the trail isn’t easy. You’re going to add another 260 feet of elevation gain in the 0.4 miles hike to the top. But this is a very pleasant section. The trail winds through a thick forest, and at the top, the trees suddenly open up and you can enjoy views of the park below you and the mountain ranges around you.
After a break and a snack, it’s time to head back down.
Back at the last trail split, it’s decision time. You can take the Burro Trail or go back to the Mountain Lion Trail and finish that big loop.
After six miles of hiking, we decided the shorter Burro Trail was the best choice. However, the Burro Trail is listed on the map as difficult, so expect some steep sections as you hike down. The trail is also rocky, so it’s a bit hard on the knees and feet, but we enjoyed some of the interesting rock formations along the way.
At this point, you’ll need to follow your trail map to make sure you take the right spur of the Burro Trail. We took the shorter spur that led to a service road. You’ll need to follow the trails, turning on the second service road, if you want the shortest hike back to Nott Creek.
Details: The hike around part of the Mountain Lion and Burro Trail with side trips to the quarry and Windy Peak is about 8 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation gain.
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For park admission prices, directions, trail maps and more, visit the Golden Gate Canyon State Park website.