Golden, one of Colorado’s oldest settlements, sits tucked between the Front Range and North and South Table Mountains west of Denver. Golden, founded in 1859, was dubbed the last “flat place” before miners headed into the Rockies and flourished as supply center to the gold fields at Central City.
Golden is also home to the American Mountaineering Center, the nation’s center for climbing information, research, and education in the city’s old high school building. The center is headquarters for both the American Alpine Club and the Colorado Mountain Club. Inside are the American Alpine Club Library and the American Mountaineering Museum, with displays on famous climbers and mountains.
Rock climbing is one of Golden’s most popular activities. North Table Mountain above Coors Brewery was donated to The Access Fund by a private owner to keep it open for climber access. Its vertical basalt cliffs, laced with bolted sport routes, are popular with Denver climbers. Clear Creek Canyon, a twisting canyon west of Golden, is also popular with climbers who flock to over 40 cliffs above the rushing creek. A few icefalls freeze in winter, giving ice climbers some frozen fun.
The Golden Parks and Recreation Department provides a vibrant parks system with 24 miles of trails, 253 acres of parks, and 402 open space acres. The department runs some cool facilities, including Splash Aquatic Park, Clear Creek Whitewater Park for kayakers, Fossil Trace Golf Club, and the Golden History Museums. It also has Clear Creek RV Park for campers, two dog parks, and Golden Bike Park, a skills course for mountain and BMX bikers.
Golden is surrounded by natural and open space parks. Golden Gate State Park offers 12,000 rugged acres with hiking trails, fishing ponds, picnic tables, and two campgrounds. Lookout Mountain Park atop 7,374-foot Lookout Mountain overlooks Golden. The 66-acre Denver Mountain Park houses the Buffalo Bill Museum and the gravesite of the famed frontiersman. Farther west is Genesee Park, with herds of bison and elk, mountain views, Beaver Brook Trail, and the Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground.
The city is a hiker’s paradise, with trails tramping across public lands and parks. Clear Creek Trail is a fun easy hike for families. It allows creek access for fishermen. The Chimney Gulch Trail is a workout, climbing 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles from Golden to Lookout Mountain’s summit. The 1.5-mile North Table Mountain Trail edges across a hillside above town and offers scenic views of Golden. The 1.5-mile Triceratops Trail, a designated National Natural Landmark, travels back to the age of dinosaurs—a perfect hike for young paleontologists.
Golden was selected as a Bicycle Friendly Community for its efforts to create infrastructure for biking. The city has designated bike routes with bike lanes, pedestrian and bike bridges, and a network of mountain bike trails outside the city limits. Good biking spots include White Ranch Park, Magpie Gulch Trail, Apex Trail, 6th Avenue Trail, and Lubahn Trail.