You don’t have to go far from The Mile High City to get your mountain fix! No matter the season, Golden is the perfect spot for a gorgeous hike. Afterwards, celebrate with a fresh craft beer and soak in the friendly spirit of Denver’s closest mountain town!
Only minutes from Denver, Golden feels like a world away. The town is ringed by high buttes and mountains, all offering short hikes with beautiful views. And its delightful downtown offers one-of-a-kind shops, museums, delicious restaurants and cafes and, of course, a slew of craft breweries and distilleries.
Here are five Golden, Colorado hikes paired with a perfect post-hike beer:
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Just a few minutes drive from town, Golden Gate Canyon is a hiking haven with spectacular views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area in the distance. With acres and acres of evergreen forests and a huge network of trails with excellent signage and maps, this is a perfect beauty spot to take out-of-towners for some fresh air. Don’t miss Panorama Point, which has one of the most awe-inspiring views of the Front Range.
Refreshments: On the way back to town, stop at the award-winning Cannonball Creek Brewing Company for a Mindbender IPA, an American style IPA with assertive notes of grapefruit and pine, balanced by Munich malts.
Windy Saddle to Buffalo Bill’s Grave
Half way up the Lariat Loop Trail to the summit of Lookout Mountain, there’s a wonderful trailhead at Windy Saddle with a switchbacking trail that climbs through evergreen forests to the summit of the mountain. Here you can visit the Jefferson County Nature Center with exhibits on the elk, bear, and mountain lions that live in this forest, or push on to Buffalo Bill’s grave with its outstanding museum on the famous scout and showman.
Refreshments: You can see the summit from the outdoor patio of Mountain Toad Brewery, the perfect place to chill by a food truck, sit in the sun and enjoy a Mount Zion IPA. With its West Coast hop profile, you can taste citrus, stone fruit flavors and appropriately, pine. Mount Zion is the peak to the north of Lookout Mountain (the one with the big “M” on it for Colorado School of Mines).
North Table Mountain
You don’t have to drive after this hike because the trailhead begins in the parking lot of New Terrain Brewing Co. Just behind the brewery is a spur trail that leads to the main five-mile trail around this ancient volcanic outcrop of rock. There are limited trees here, so it’s a good choice in winter with generally clear trails. At the top is a lunar landscape of rock with horizon-filling views of downtown Denver in one direction and the foothills in the other.
Refreshments: Why of course, sit on the outdoor patio at New Terrain, survey your hike and have a Rambler, a malty American amber ale with tastes of caramel and peach. If you’re gluten, free, head to Holidaily, Colorado’s only dedicated gluten-free brewery. Try a Favorite Blonde Ale and you’ll learn that gluten-free beer can taste amazing.
Clear Creek Trail
Everyone’s favorite all-weather, year-round trail follows Clear Creek from the center of historic downtown Golden up into the foothills. You’ll pass a historic farm museum (stop and feed the chickens), watch kayakers navigate the rapids, and cross several beautiful bridges where you can pause to soak in the views of the beautiful creek and surrounding landscapes. If you want more hike, cross the creek to the Canal Zone and climb to the aqueduct, which is a popular rock climbing area. You can follow the aqueduct back into Golden for a loop trip.
Refreshments: Again, no driving required after this hike, as it starts and ends within a block of Golden City Brewery. This famous little craft brewery is located in the brewer’s backyard. Head to the garage to order your beer then sit by an outdoor fire. There are often musicians on the weekends. Your beer? The Clear Creek Gold Pale Ale, of course.
South Table Mountain
This short, steep hike pays off big dividends since it has the best view into downtown Golden far below. The volcanic butte is where the first T-rex skeleton was ever discovered, and is the famous western landmark on the old Coors logo (Coors Brewery is located at its base). The view from the top looks west along the Foothills and you can see everything from Pikes Peak in the south to Longs Peak far to the north.
Refreshments: If you haven’t been to Coors, stop by for their free tour (and three free samples!) Or back in town, just a few minutes away, try Barrels & Bottles, the only craft brewery in town that gives equal attention to beer AND wine with two dozen craft beers and two dozen tap wines available. Try the Orange Creamsicle Blonde Ale, which is brewed with orange peel and vanilla beans.