Shorthorn to Longhorn Trail, White Ranch Park in Golden, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Shorthorn to Longhorn Trail - 5.2 miles

White Ranch Park in Golden

The Longhorn Trail

The Longhorn Trail

Round-Trip Length: 5.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 7,600' - 6,925' (7,600' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -675' net elevation loss (+895' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Shorthorn to Longhorn Trail - 5.2 Miles Round-Trip

White Ranch Park supports nearly 20 miles of well-maintained multi-use trails that stretch through open grasslands, steep hillsides and mixed pine forests. The well-plotted trail network provides numerous routing options of varying length and difficulty.

The Shorthorn Trail is a 1.1 mile trail segment accessed from either end of the Longhorn Trail (see map). The Shorthorn Trail is a shorter alternative to the Longhorn Trail, shaving nearly .5 miles off its one-way distance.

The following description begins from the West Access Trailhead and follows the Longhorn Trail to the Shorthorn Trail.

Head north on the Rawhide Trail to its connection with the Longhorn Trail (.25 miles). Enjoy rangy views over high open space, and several marked remains of a working ranch that occupied this land prior to its donation to Jefferson County Open Space.

The Rawhide Trail joins the Longhorn Trail after .25 miles. Turn right and begin a steady descent through a sparse pine forest to the Shorthorn Trail split in about a mile and veer right.

The Shorthorn Trail runs just beneath the top of a bluff on a narrow, rugged path that sees light mountain bike traffic. The first .75 miles offer little shade, but terrific views to the north and east.

The final .4 miles have short, steep undulations through a forested area. The trail rejoins the Longhorn Trail after 1.1 miles (2.6 miles from the trailhead), then drops steeply to its end at the Belcher Hill Trail intersection.

For a longer option, consider continuing southeast on the Belcher Hill Trail to the East Access Parking Lot and Trailhead (adding 3.4 miles roundtrip). For a shorter though predictably more crowded return, turn west (right) on the Belcher Hill Trail and connect with the Sawmill Trail, which leads back to the West Access Parking Lot and Trailhead (only a 1.7 mile return).

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Worth Noting

  • Take advantage of the free maps at White Ranch Park trailheads to explore different routes and gauge distances.

  • The Shorthorn Trail is a good alternative route when multi-use traffic is heavy.

  • White Ranch supports a variety of wildlife. Deer are abundant, and the high open spaces are ideal for spotting raptors.

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

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

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