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Columbine/Stratton Loop

With a recent mountain bike crash rendering me unable to run or bike for a bit (sore ribs) I decided to hike one of my favorite short routes. I like it because it has some really nice views, is a loop (versus out and back), and includes elements from two different open spaces. There is a caveat though – read on…

This route starts at Starsmore Discovery Center. Walk past the center on the left, heading West, to find the start of the Columbine Trail. Take the Columbine Trail West / up canyon for a little less than two miles. The lower part of the trail (first mile or so) is easy, with a relatively gentle slope and mostly good footing (if you consider pea gravel and occasional rocks good). After you cross the road it starts to get harder – a few sections are very steep with deep and loose gravel:

One steep and loose section on mid-Columbine

However, the challenge is worth it as the up, down, and cross canyon views are gorgeous.

Up Canyon View

A little less than two miles, look for the Spring Creek branching off to the right. There is a signpost there. Head up Spring Creek to where it joins with Gold Camp Road.

Gold Camp Road at the end of Spring Creek

Take a right on the road, and hike downhill to where it turns to pavement. Continue downhill until you get to the pull-off lot at the top of Stratton Open Space. Looking east, find the signpost for Gold Camp Path on your right.

Top of Gold Camp Path

Proceed down Gold Camp Path (be careful on the rock steps at the start, it gets smoother from there) to where it intersects with the Chamberlain Trail where you take a right.

Gold Camp Path / Chamberlain Trail Intersection

Proceed down the Chamberlain Trail, across the canyon road, to where it meets up with Columbine Trail. Go left back to where you started.

This hike is about 5.5 miles with something like 1000 feet of vertical gain. The best views are on the Columbine portion and near the end of the dirt portion of Gold Camp Road.

The caveat is the road portion… hiking down the dirt can be dusty when cars go by, and I’ve found the average concentration of stupid to be slightly higher up in that area than in on other parts of town. There are also some very narrow parts of the road (even on the paved portion) so a great deal of caution and situational awareness is warranted in relation to the traffic on the road (as usual, DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES!). Unfortunately there isn’t really a viable alternative to the mile or so on the road if you want to make a loop out of it.