Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Golden Gate Canyon State Park - Gilpin County
Aliases: Bootleg Bottom Trailhead, Ole Barn Knoll, Dude's Fishing Hole
Ownership: None Listed
Description: This large state park is popular with visitors from Denver. It can be an excellent spot for mid-elevation mountain birds. Mountain Base Road (CR 1) plunges at a 19% grade down the length of the park from north to south. Along the way it accesses some nice mature Ponderosa habitat, the best of it along the Mountain Lion Trail starting at the Bootleg Bottom Trailhead. Pygmy Nuthatch is common here and the trail has potential to produce Flammulated Owl.

More Ponderosa can be found around the Ole Barn Knoll Trailhead just to the south. At the bottom of the road lies Kriley Pond, typically waterbirdless, and the similarly handicapped Slough Pond. Both ponds, however, are surrounded by wet meadows and willows good for Lincoln's Sparrow, Wilson's Warbler and the like. The nearby park Visitor's Center has some very nice nature trails through pondside willows and mixed coniferous forests. Aspen Meadows Campground is aptly named: it is adjacent to some large meadows and a few extensive young aspen groves.

The road into the campground leads downslope a half mile to the trailhead for Dude's Fishing Hole, a small artificial lake only a short distance down the trail. It is unlikely to attract much besides an occasional Mallard or Spotted Sandpiper, but the willow, aspen and wet meadow habitats below the dam are excellent.

The Buffalo Trail leaves from Gap Road near the Jefferson County line. Only the first few hundred yards of the trail are in Gilpin County. Jefferson County starts somewhere near the remains of an old log cabin on the west side of the trail. The campground and the Gilpin County section of the trail are surrounded by young lodgepole forest with a few aspens; the creek which follows the trail, however, supports some nice willow riparian habitat good for MacGillivray's and Wilson's Warblers. Townsend's Warblers and other high-elevation migrants can be found here in late summer and early fall. The Jefferson County portion of this trail gets into open meadows and ponderosa pine forest. It should be checked at night in May and June for Flammulated Owl.

Habitat: Lodgepole Forest, Ponderosa Forest, Aspen Grove, Stream, Streamside Willow, Wet Meadow, Mountain Meadow, Pond/Lake/Reservoir
Directions: Aspen Meadows Campground, the Buffalo Trail, and the top of Mountain Base Road can all be accessed from Gap Road, which heads east from CO 119 about nine miles south of Nederland. The east end of Gap Road is called Twin Spruce Road; it heads west from CO 72 in Coal Creek Canyon in extreme northwestern Jefferson County. The Visitor's Center, Kriley and Slough Ponds, and the bottom of Mountain Base Road are all accessible from CO 46 (Golden Gate Canyon Road) just west of the Jefferson County line.
Other Wildlife:
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