Rawhide Loop Trail, White Ranch Park in Golden, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Rawhide Loop Trail - 4.7 miles

White Ranch Park in Golden

Vast open meadows along the Rawhide Loop Trail

Vast open meadows along the Rawhide Loop Trail

Round-Trip Length: 4.7 miles
Start-End Elevation: 7,505' - 7,505' (7,558' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +53' net elevation gain (+865' total roundtrip elevation gain
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Rawhide Loop Trail - 4.7 Miles Round-Trip

The Rawhide Loop Trail circles White Ranch Park's highest meadows and rolling hills with varied terrain and exceptional views throughout. This transition zone between foothills and montane forest spans a diverse tapestry of meadows, ponderosa parks and mixed conifer home to deer, turkey, fox, bobcat, bear, deer, elk and mountain lion.

Mild trail conditions are well-suited for hiking, running, biking, horses, camping and winter recreation. The Rawhide Loop begins from the West Access Trailhead - the following description travels counter-clockwise:

The trail heads northeast on the edge of a vast meadow with rangy views across rolling hills and surrounding mountains. It passes the Longhorn Trail split (.27 miles : 7,425'), curls north and begins a rugged, moderately steep descent into a gulch at the first of two Wrangler Run Trail connections (.65 miles : 7,125').

The trail rises back and levels briefly with views across the Eastern Plains and Denver skyline (1.05 miles : 7,315'). It gradually bends northwest and resumes a quick pace through intervals of steep undulations and relaxing flats.

Travel eases along a high ridge and service road in the Rawhide Trail's northeast corner (1.95 miles : 7,450'). Here you'll enjoy views across the Loop's inner meadows and southwest mountains that frame it. Continue past the Water Hole Trail spur (2.05 miles : 7,465') - which leads to the Sourdough Springs Equestrian Camp - and veer off the service (left) to remain on the Rawhide Trail.

Mild undulations lead out from the timber and level across open slopes carpeted with lupine, arnica, paintbrush, aster, thistle, blanket flowers and mariposa lily (2.5 miles : 7,530'). The trail moves quickly through fire-scarred pine stands (2.75 miles) to the second Waterhole Trail spur and Campsites 1-4 (3.0 miles : 7,410').

Bear right to continue on the Rawhide Trail, now a wide graded service road you'll follow through open meadows back to the trailhead.

The trial rolls gently along the Loop's open west side past the 2nd Wrangler Run Trail connection (3.6 miles : 7,290') and Belcher Hill Trail split (4.4 miles : 7,465') to complete the Loop (4.7 miles). This final segment offers broad views across the Rawhide's inner meadows and Ralston Buttes, a geological uplift north of White Ranch Park that serves as an important wildlife corridor from the mountains to the plains.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 49.133 W105 17.194 — Rawhide Loop Trailhead
  • N39 49.306 W105 17.036 — .27 miles : Longhorn Trail junction
  • N39 49.539 W105 17.055 — .6 miles : Wrangler Trail junction #1
  • N39 49.618 W105 16.636 — 1.05 miles : Views of eastern plains and Denver
  • N39 50.126 W105 17.243 — 2.05 miles : Waterhole Trail junction
  • N39 50.070 W105 17.551 — 2.75 miles : Pass quickly through fire-scarred glade
  • N39 49.932 W105 17.390 — 3.0 miles : Spur to Campsites 1-4
  • N39 49.607 W105 17.566 — 3.6 miles : Wrangler Trail junction #2
  • N39 49.261 W105 17.438 — 4.4 miles : Belcher Hill Trail junction
  • N39 49.133 W105 17.194 — 4.7 miles : Rawhide Loop Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • The Rawhide Loop's moderate grades and good maintenance are well-suited for runners and mountain bikes. Connections with the Longhorn, Sawmill and Belcher Hill trails offer good alternative routes and extensions.

  • 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. Steps from the trailhead original homestead farming equipment is on display, an insightful look at the agricultural ingenuity of the time.

  • For a shorter but equally gratifying alternative consider using the Wrangler Run Trail, which bisects the Rawhide Loop. The Wrangler Run Trail cuts the roundtrip distance to approximately 2.5 miles, a good option for families, those with limited time or winter travel conditions.

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

The Rawhide Loop Trail begins from the West Access Trailhead in White Ranch Park, 9.3 miles from Highway 93 in Golden, Colorado:

Take Colorado Highway 93 north from Golden approximately 1 mile to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Turn west on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Travel west 3.7 miles to Crawford Gulch Road. Bear right onto Crawford Gulch Road and travel 3.9 miles to Belcher Hill Road. Turn right on Belcher Hill Road and travel 1.7 miles to the main West Access Trailhead. If parking is full you may backtrack several hundred yards on Belcher Hill Road to an auxillary parking area on the side of the road.

Contact Information

Jefferson County Open Space
700 Jefferson County Pkwy
Suite 100
Golden, Colorado 80401
Information Line: 303.271.5925
Office Hours:
7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Trip Reports

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"It's a breathtaking experience. If you are from the east coast you need to be physically fit to complete the Rawhide trail. I highly recommend it, it's a well maintained hiking trail with excellent views."
Jose Maldonado  -   -  Date Posted: July 25, 2013


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