Beaver Brook Trail in Golden Colorado
The Beaver Brook Trail runs from the Windy Saddle parking lot up Lookout Mountain to Chief Hosa. You can hike parts of the trail for an easier day, joined by friends and family. Or, for more of a challenge, you can trail run it. This trail gets better the further away from the parking lot you get, so bring plenty of food and water, and set out for the day!
The Beaver Brook Trail is by far my most favorite trail run, because if it’s beautiful views and quiet surroundings. The challenge of this trail also brings intrigue, and doing the whole route is not for the beginner. Come well prepared, and have a plan in place before you start.
Distance: 9.5 miles (point to point) but up to 22 miles (make even less by doing an out and back)
Elevation Gain: ~2000ft (one way)
Max Elevation: 7840ft
Time: 2-3 hours for point to point, 4-6 for full route. (Running)
Parking: Windy Saddle and Chief Hosa (shuttle cars for point to point)
You can start either at the Windy Saddle parking lot on Lookout Mountain, or at the Chief Hosa exit. I would recommend starting at Windy Saddle for your first time, or with children. The trailhead is easy to spot, and it may be crowded on a weekend morning. Take in the beautiful view before you start heading up. In about 1/4 mile, there is a split in the trail, but there will be an obvious sign for Beaver Brook heading straight. Soon, you will come to a rock garden. Watch your step as you cross!
The first mile from this direction is probably the most difficult with large rocks and some exposure in places. If you watch your step and stay focused, running is completely possible through this section. It is hard to get lost in the first 4 or 5 miles because there are no other trails, but just in case, keep an eye out for the red B/B signs on the trees.
Eventually, about 2 miles in, the Beaver Brook trail smooths out and you will enjoy a few miles of rolling, treelined terrain and spectacular views. There are a few pull outs along the trail, good for picture taking and a snack when needed. The trail dips down the mountain in the third mile, and continues to roll through the trees. There will be a couple small creek crossings along the way, so watch your step. There will be a trail turnoff around mile 4.5 to the right that will add another 2 miles or so. If you want to add a few miles and take in some amazing views, choose this side route. It is fairly flat, and has many spots for great pictures.
Reaching the Summit
After about another mile or so, you will reach the highest point of this trail at 7840 feet. You are about 5.5 miles from the parking lot by this point. This is a great turn around point if you want the shortened version. Just be sure to take some time to take in the views and take some pictures! Chances are, you will have it completely to yourself.
If you are planning to do a point to point, or a full out and back, you will find the trail marked heading down the other side. There will be a trail to the left fairly quickly, but you want to stay straight. The trail starts to head downhill from here. It is steep, narrow and rocky, so watch your step! Depending on the time of year you are hear, it may be slightly overgrown but the trail will still be visible. Keep on the trail! Going off trail will get you nowhere but lost, trust me. 🙂 This part of Beaver Brook descends about 1000 feet in less than a mile and a half. Keep this in mind if you are doing an out and back!
Once you have descended, you will have reached a creek. The trail crosses over this creek a couple of times, so it is good to watch your step and keep an eye out. Eventually you will see signs for the Chavez Trail. This will lead to the same place, but adds some miles, so choose wisely. If you stay on the Beaver Brook Trail, it will start to head up from here. Slight at first, but then will become constant, climbing about 1000 more feet up to the Chief Hosa parking area. It is not technical at all, as the trail has been newly done.
Finishing, or Halfway There….
If you shuttled cars, you are done and free to go enjoy some cold water, and some food! If you were one of the brave to attempt the full out and back, your journey is only half way done. Be sure to have enough water and food, but now you get to turn around and retrace your steps. You will get a nice break for a couple of miles before the tough climb back out starts. But, just know that once you are to the top, it is not too bad the rest of the way back.
The Beaver Brook Trail is one that should be on everyones list, regardless of ability. Even if you aren’t a runner, or aren’t comfortable doing more than a couple of miles, you can still enjoy this trail. It will leave you breathless in more ways than one.