Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing at Golden Gate Canyon
The trails listed below are recommendations only. All trails in the park are open to either of these activities. Changing weather conditions make these activities very hard to predict. Generally, the best skiing/shoeing conditions for all trails listed below occur during and right after a heavy snowfall in the area. You will encounter varying trail conditions on each trail including snow depth, rocky terrain, steepness and windblown conditions. Under all types of weather conditions, trails on the north end of the park and those along north and east facing slopes will have better snow conditions than those trails on south and west facing slopes. Check the conditions page for up-to-date trail information.
Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow
A moderate 1.7 mile trip from Horseshoe Trailhead (located ½ mile east of the Visitor Center along Crawford Gulch Road) up into Frazer Meadow. Lots of flat terrain to trek in once you arrive at the meadow. In drier snow years this is not as good a choice as trails on the northern end of the park.
Raccoon Trail Loop
This moderate 2.5 mile loop can be accessed either from Reverend’s Ridge Campground or Panorama Point Scenic Overlook. In wet or dry years this one of the better choices for winter use. From the campground parking lot start out to the right and behind the office building traveling down hill into a creek bottom. Once you have bottomed out turn left and follow the creek past an old cabin, turn right just past the cabin and follow the drainage up hill toward Panorama Point. From Panorama Point you can either take the trail below the deck down into the creek bottom and trek around past the cabin mentioned above or go east on the trail and loop around past the cabin and back up to Panorama Point. Raccoon Trail generally has good snow and always good scenery.
Mule Deer Trail from Reverend's Ridge to Ole’ Barn Knoll
A moderate sun drenched 1.7 mile trip from Reverend’s Ridge Campground to Ole’ Barn Knoll Picnic Area. There are two routes to choose from leaving the campground area. The shorter route is to take the campground entrance road back to Gap Road and cross straight over the road to the Mule Deer Trail. In some years there may be a parking lot plowed open just to the left (east) of the trail at this location which would eliminate the need to park at the campground. To access the longer route through the forest go right and behind the campground office building to pick up the Raccoon Trail. Take this down into a drainage to where it intersects the Mule Deer Trail and go right toward Ole’ Barn Knoll. Since Mountain Base Road is closed to vehicles in the winter consider using the road for your return trip.
Mule Deer Trail
You can typically find good snow taking this 3.8 mile route from Panorama Point Scenic Overlook into Frazer Meadow. Level of difficulty varies from easy to difficult with some areas of steep switchback terrain. A good portion of this route doubles as a backcountry service road resulting in a wide trail.
Buffalo Trail to Forgotten Valley
An easy, generally downhill, 1.2 mile trip from Buffalo Trailhead in Rifleman Phillips Group Campground into Forgotten Valley. It will be a moderate trip back uphill to your vehicle. To access the trailhead you should park in a small lot off of Gap Road at the entrance to the campground. (During heavy snows this lot may not be plowed) Trek down the access road bearing left when you get to the campground, which will put you on a service road that doubles as the Buffalo Trail. Make sure you sightsee the historic Tallman Homestead (buildings not open to the public) while in Forgotten Valley.
Mountain Base Road
This roadway is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter making this an ideal place to ski or shoe given adequate snowfall. The road can be accessed from either Highway 46 on the south or off Gap Road on the north. Parking is available at the Highway 46 entrance area or at the top of Mountain Base Road. Level of difficulty will vary from easy to moderate with a 1000 foot elevation gain from south to north.
Reverend’s Ridge Campground (Best for Beginners)
Many of the roads and camping loops are closed and not plowed in the winter making this an ideal play park for beginners. The terrain in mostly flat and the snow generally holds in this area all season. Consider reserving one of our cabins or yurts located here and staying a couple nights. Parking is available at the campground office building.