Belcher Hill Trail, White Ranch Park in Golden, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Belcher Hill Trail - 9.0 miles

White Ranch Park in Golden

The Belcher Hill Trail

The Belcher Hill Trail

Round-Trip Length: 9.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 6,175' - 7,465' (7,860' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,290' net elevation gain (+1,785' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Belcher Hill Trail - 9.0 Miles Round-Trip

White Ranch Park supports nearly 20 miles of well-maintained multi-use trails that stretch through open grasslands, ponderosa parks and montane forests. The Belcher Hill Trail is White Ranch's longest and most connected, an ideal starting point for any route across the Park.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Belcher Hill Trail runs northwest across the foothills to a small creek (.65 miles : 6,260'). Note the uniquely shaped foothills around you. Tectonic forces related to the greater Rocky Mountain uplift created ripples that forced rock layers to bulge and compress at the base, creating anticlines - or convex folds on the earth's surface.

As the bulging anticline's softer sediments eroded, only hard ridges - known as Hogbacks - remained from the previously rounded hilltops. Good examples of this can be seen to the north as you climb.

The trail moves easily to the Whippletree Trail split (1.15 miles : 6,510') and turns sharply SW on a winding, moderately strenuous push into the foothills.

Views improve on a methodical climb past connections for the Longhorn Trail (1.85 miles : 6,870'), Mustang Trail (2.4 miles : 7,245'), Roundup Trail #1 (2.55 miles : 7,285'), Roundup Trail #2 (2.8 miles : 7,385'), Maverick Trail (2.85 miles : 7,420') and Sawmill Trail (2.95 miles : 7,462').

These ponderosa parks are home to deer, elk, turkey, coyote, bear, rabbit, hare, porcupine, mountain lion and bobcat. Note the introduction of fir and aspen as you progress.

The Belcher Hill Trail narrows past the Sawmill Trail, pushing steeply to a west-facing rim near the trail's highest point (3.65 miles : 7,840'). Itl comes to the 2nd Mustang Trail split and turns north (3.75 miles : 7,855'), dropping steeply down a heavily forested hillside to the Park's west parking lot on Belcher Hill Road (4.12 miles : 7,650').

Cross the road and parking lot to the Belcher Hill Trail's terminus at the Rawhide Trail junction (4.5 miles : 7,465'). Consider a short trip on the Rawhide Trail for great views across high meadows and surrounding peaks in the heart of White Ranch.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 47.946 W105 14.915 — 0.0 miles : White Ranch Park - East Trailhead
  • N39 48.205 W105 15.427 — .65 miles : Cross Creek
  • N39 48.446 W105 15.666 — 1.15 miles : Whippletree Trail junction
  • N39 48.255 W105 15.908 — 1.85 miles : Longhorn Trail junction
  • N39 48.375 W105 16.437 — 2.4 miles : Mustang Trail junction #1
  • N39 48.455 W105 16.573 — 2.55 miles : Roundup Trail junction #1
  • N39 48.612 W105 16.746 — 2.8 miles : Roundup Trail junction #2
  • N39 48.655 W105 16.773 — 2.85 miles : Maverick Trail junction
  • N39 48.712 W105 16.840 — 2.95 miles : Sawmill Trail junction
  • N39 48.964 W105 17.561 — 3.75 miles : Mustang Trail junction #2
  • N39 49.124 W105 17.550 — 4.12 miles : Cross over west parking lot
  • N39 49.261 W105 17.438 — 4.5 miles : Rawhide Trail junction - end of trail
  • N39 49.128 W105 17.216 — 4.8 miles : Main west parking lot

Worth Noting

  • Ponderosa forests are naturally maintained by low-intensity fires every 5-15 years that keep populations and competition to a minimum. Mature ponderosa pine bark is resistant to such fires, while their cones rely on heat to open and release seeds. European settlement in the late 1800s ushered in decades of fire suppression, producing forests of unnatural densities susceptible to widespread, high-intensity fires from which they cannot always recover. White Ranch is working to restore natural conditions through controlled burns and selective cutting.

  • The Paul White family owned and operated this land from 1913 to 1974 as a commercial cattle ranch. After Paul White's death in 1969 his wife, Anna Lee White, initiated a purchase-gift agreement for the land with Jefferson County Open Space.

  • Anticipate heavy mountain bike traffic on this trail. Be mindful of private property lines and respect homeowners' privacy.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • White Ranch Park has two camping areas: Sawmill Hiker Camp and Sourdough Springs Equestrian Camp. Both grounds have restrooms, water, and bear-proof food storage.

  • Camping permits (advance or on-site) are free, valid for a maximum stay of up to three consecutive nights.

  • Campground stays are limited to no more than a total of 12 nights within a 30-day period. Campers are asked to use the west parking area.

  • Sourdough Springs Equestrian Campground
  • 10 campsites, each with picnic table, metal fire ring, horse hitching rail and horse watering trough.

  • Restrooms, firewood, bear-proof trash cans and food storage poles are provided.

  • Maximum of three tents and eight people per site (erect tents within 30' of post and metal fire ring).

  • A drinking water hand pump is seasonally available (check for status prior to arrival).

  • Reservations are taken a minimum of 3 days prior to arrival. All others sites may be secured on a first come, first-served basis. 3 day maximum stay.

  • Sawmill Hikers Campground
  • The Sawmill Hikers Campground is located 1 mile from the parking lot.

  • There are 10 campsites, each with a picnic table, metal fire ring, and food storage poles. Sites have access to a restroom, bear-proof trash cans, and a hand pump for drinking water (closed in winter).

  • Maximum of three tents and eight people per site (erect tents within 30' of post and metal fire ring).

Directions to Trailhead

East Access Trailhead: From Colorado Highway 93 (connecting Golden and Boulder), turn west on 56th Avenue. Follow signs on Pine Ridge Road to the White Ranch East Access Parking Lot (about 1 mile total from Highway 93).

West Access Trailhead: Take Highway 93 north from Golden approximately
1 mile to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Travel west approximately 4.1 miles to Crawford Gulch Road (Highway 57). Turn right on Crawford Gulch Road and folow signs to White Ranch Park. There are two parking lots .3 miles apart. The first parking lot offers immediate access to the Belcher Hill Trail.

Contact Information

Jefferson County Open Space
700 Jefferson County Pkwy
Suite 100
Golden, Colorado 80401
Information Line: 303.271.5925

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