With 11 trails and two trailheads, White Ranch Park near Golden offers lots of variety.
One of my favorite trails is the Maverick Trail. However, because the trail is in the middle of the park, you have hike 2.5 miles up the Belcher Hill Trail from the east parking lot to get to the Maverick Trail or hike down from the west parking lots. I decided to create a loop using the Longhorn Trail to access Maverick, then the Sawmill Trail to create a loop.
The hike starts at the parking lots in the middle of the park (directions below). You can start at either of the two parking lots here, but I prefer to start at the second parking lot on the road, where the road dead ends.
Take the path on the north end of the parking lot. The nature trail here is unnamed, but it passes by several signs and several pieces of farming equipment.
One of the first signs explains the history of the park. First Ute and Arapaho tribes hunted on this land. In 1865, Welch immigrants James and Mary Bond were heading to California when their young son was killed under the wheels of their wagon. Their late-1800s home is near this parking lot.
By 1913, Paul and Anna lee White had purchased part of the land. They operated a commercial Hereford cattle ranch here until 1969. Anna donated part of the land to Jefferson County Open Space and the park was named in memory of her husband in 1975.
Other signs describe the farming equipment used on the White Ranch, the surrounding forest and the animals that live here.
Follow the path as it heads toward the bathroom, then turn east and follow the path as it becomes the Longhorn Trail.
The trail drops off the ridge as it heads east. It’s about two-thirds of a mile from the parking lot to the turnoff for the Maverick Trail. I like the Maverick Trail for its views and because in less than 0.2 miles, the trail wanders into the forest.
Meander through the trees and meadows on this one mile trail that goes up and down in elevation.
The Maverick Trail is a nice path across the park between the main Belcher Hill Trail and the outer Longhorn Trail. While come use this trail as a cut across, I find it peaceful and I enjoy the variety of the trail and the views.
After just one mile, the Maverick Trail ends at the Belcher Hill Trail. Now it’s decision time. If you look at your park map, there are lots of options. If you want a longer hike, turn left and head for the Mustang Trail. If you want a shorter loop, turn right and head for the Sawmill Trail.
Much like the Maverick Trail, the Sawmill Trail winds through meadows and forest. However, there’s one surprise back here — the Sawmill Campground. The campground has several tent spaces and the park provides firewood. Learn more about camping at White Ranch here.
After about three-quarters of a mile of hiking on the Sawmill Trail, the trail drops into a valley and ends at the Mustang Trail. Turn right and take a deep breath because there’s a steep climb next. This section of the Mustang Trail switchbacks up stairs and the hillside gaining 280 feet of elevation in the next one third mile. If you get tired, just stop and turn around and enjoy the view of the valley below you. It’s worth it!
At the top of the hill, the Mustang Trail ends at the Belcher Hill Trail. We took the Belcher Hill Trail toward the parking lots and were surprised that after that climb, the trail now drops about 200 feet in elevation to the main road and parking lots. Here we turned right and headed back to our cars.
Details: The Longhorn-Maverick-Sawmill-Belcher Hill loop is about 3.5 miles with 740 feet of elevation gain with all the ups and downs.
Learn more about the park and get a park map here. Find more hikes in Golden and across the state in this list of 400+ hikes in Colorado. Don’t miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the top of this page and follow me on Facebook.
Directions: From Highway 93 in Golden, turn west on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Take the road about 3.8 miles to Crawford Gulch Road. Take Crawford Gulch Road about 4 miles to the turnoff for White Ranch and take that road until it dead ends in the park.