Apex Park was once a key toll road to the gold fields of Central City, now it’s a popular open space park.
As you begin the hike, imagine trying to get your wagon, your horses, your sheep and other gear up the canyon 140+ years ago. The Apex and Gregory Wagon Road was a profitable toll road during the 1860’s and 70’s. A sign on the trail lists the toll fees including 60 cents per wagon and one penny for each head of sheep driven up the road.
All users start on the Apex Trail from the parking lot into Apex Gulch. Pass the Argos Trail and about 0.8 miles from the trailhead, users make a decision, stay on the Apex Trail up the gulch or turn up the hill and head north of the Pick N’ Sledge, Grubstake, Sluicebox Loop. Notice the mining names given to the trails. We took the mining trail loop.
The Pick N’ Sledge Trail switchbacks up and around a hill. As you climb, the views of the city get more and more impressive. Pass the upper end of the Argos Trail and stay on the steep Pick N’ Sledge Trail as it winds back and forth up the hill.
At the top of the hill is a trail split and an impressive view of the front range. For a shorter loop, turn left here and stay on the Pick N’ Sledge Trail. However, for a much nicer experience, take the Grubstake Trail. After all that climbing, the beginning of the Grubstake Loop is a nice break. You’ll find yourself hiking slightly down and again, seeing views of the city.
While there’s a second cutoff at the Bonanza Trail, staying on the Grubstake Loop takes hikers into a thick section of trees as the trail turns west into the foothills. Enjoy the slight downhill trek through the forest and the sounds of a stream, because a switchback section of climbing is coming. Hikers here climb 400 feet up to the other end of the Bonanza Trail. As you come out of the trees between the Bonanza and Pick N’ Sledge Trail, you’ll see some of the nice homes that share a boundary with the park. I always wonder if the people who live so close, enjoy the trails.
Turn right and follow the Pick N Sledge Trail to a bench and the turn off for the Sluicebox Trail.
On the Sluicebox Trail you might feel like a gold nugget being tossed back in forth. Sluicebox drops 400 feet in a series of switchbacks over 0.7 of a mile. Sluicebox takes hikers back to the main Apex Trail, then down the main Apex Gulch back to their cars. If you see some of the same bikers along the Apex Trail that you saw on the Grubstake Loop, that’s because many of them get to the main Apex Trail and head up the gulch to Enchanted Forest before returning to the trailhead.
Details: The Grubstake Loop is about 5.5 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
Get directions, a trail map and more information on the Apex Park website. Find more Golden hiking trails and more Colorado hiking trails 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.