Colorado, Colorado Hikes

Colorado Day Hikes: Goose Creek Trail

I love my job. But by the end of the semester, I’m usually pretty burned out. Part of it is the workload; toward the end, I spend my weekends grading assignments and writing exams rather than being out in nature. The other contributor is the fact that I’m an introvert, and standing in front of a classroom requires at least some degree of extroversion. The last thing I want to do with my minimal free time at the end of the semester is leave the house and talk to other people. The unfortunate byproduct of this is that I end up somewhat neglecting my friends. And hiking.

Fortunately, my friends are wonderful and understanding of my plight. My friend Savannah was also battling an injury this past spring, which meant we didn’t get to hike together for almost three months. By early June, we were finally both recovered enough to hit the trails. Given the circumstances, we chose the relatively easy Goose Creek Trail.

The Goose Creek Trail is a 9.4 mile (15.1 km) one-way route in the Lost Creek Wilderness. It is most commonly hiked as part of a popular backpacking loop, as it connects to other trails in the area. Since we were just out for the day, we only planned to hike about half of the trail. We began at Goose Creek Trailhead, which is located way at the end of a very long (but well-maintained) dirt road. The road is relatively narrow in spots and there are many blind curves; please don’t be like the assholes who came flying around one such curve and nearly crashed into us. It was terrifying and they were completely unapologetic about it.

Goose Creek Trailhead

Anyway. The trail begins with a short drop down to Goose Creek, which it crosses on a semi-precarious bridge. At the fork, stay right onto the Goose Creek Trail. This initial portion of the hike travels through the remains of a forest fire, but we soon entered unburned forest. As the name of the trail might suggest, we roughly paralleled Goose Creek for the entirety of our hike. There were some ups and downs as we meandered along the creek, but overall this was a pretty gentle trail with some nice viewpoints along the way.

Goose Creek Trail
Creek crossing
Hiking above Goose Creek

Our turnaround point for the day was the old buildings and mining remains at about the 5 mile (8 km) mark. We first came upon old employee houses that were built in the 1890s to support the attempted construction of a dam nearby. The dam was never built and the area was abandoned. The houses are in various states of disrepair. A trail continues behind these buildings and up the hill to two pieces of abandoned mining equipment.

We ate a snack here and then retraced our steps back to the car, stopping at a couple viewpoints we’d bypassed on the way in. These viewpoints aren’t marked, but they are obvious. The Lost Creek Wilderness area isn’t known for the rugged alpine scenery found in so much of Colorado. Instead, you’ll find many rock outcrops scattered through a large stretch of pine forest. The previous times I hiked in this area were in the off-season, so this was my first time seeing it all lush and green.

To us, the tall rock outcropping on the far right looked like an eagle. When I showed Pat this photo, he somehow saw a sloth and a turnip. Much teasing ensued.
Photo by Savannah

All in all, this was a great late-spring hike. And by the time we were back to the car, we were tired and a little sore, but also excited for the more challenging high elevation summer hikes that awaited us!

The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: Goose Creek Trailhead is located off Goose Creek Road, a long dirt road southwest of Deckers, Colorado
  • Fees and passes: none
  • Hiking: the roundtrip hike to the mining equipment was 10 miles (16 km) with 1880 feet (573 m) of elevation gain, but the trail continues further and can be combined with other trails to form a multi-day backpacking loop
  • Where to stay: there are many dispersed campsites along Goose Creek Road as well as one established Forest Service Campground, and there are many backpacking sites along the trail as well
  • Other: because so many people backpack in this area, there are a lot of social trails. In some places, it’s easy to get off track; I recommend having a GPS app with you to help with navigation

39 thoughts on “Colorado Day Hikes: Goose Creek Trail”

  1. Wow, that is a long hike. I love the log cabin, great photos. I empathise with you on the subject of teaching as an introvert and the near desperate need to recuperate afterwards in solitude. Great piece, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for taking us with you on the Goose Creek trail, Diana. The landscapes and vast vistas are beautiful, and the final photo is a great demonstration of the perspective of how very huge these rock formations are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I actually had the same thought while I was writing it and almost changed the wording. But I do hikes that length pretty regularly, so since it was pretty gentle terrain it wasn’t too bad. For me, it’s elevation gain that makes a hike hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like a lesser-known and remote hike in Colorado…then again, maybe it was the time of year that you went during which less people go? Any case, the greenery along the walk makes for a tranquil one, and the abandoned employee houses on the way come as a surprise to the sudden civilization on the trail. All the same, another noteworthy hike in Colorado!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We tried doing that backpacking loop in June once. The water was unusually high and was flowing over the “bridges”. Had to turn around the second day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a day hiker, so this hike would be just about the perfect length. Although I think companies should remove their equipment and leave sites in a natural condition, the old mining equipment would be interesting to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m always torn about that too. On one hand, it’s neat to stumble across the old equipment. On the other, I can’t help but see it as litter.


  6. What a beautiful place to get out and regain a little balance in life. I love the moody skies over the mountains. I always feel better if I can get out and enjoy some rocky trails and blue skies and your lovely pictures are the next best thing to making my way up a trail. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A lovely hike through the trees … and then great to see the trees down below from one of your viewpoints! Yes, it’s true that one can easily falls in that trap of just staying at home after a hectic week (or semester) … but it means the world of good to someone when getting out in nature!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh neat! I’m not sure I realized you’re an archaeologist. I was a bioanthropology major in my undergrad, so I took an archaeology course as part of that. It’s so interesting!

          Liked by 1 person

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