Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,381.00 ft (420.93 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
6.10 mi (9.82 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Not to be beat by nearby Boulder County, Jefferson County (west of Denver) has a plethora of mountain open space and trails for all to enjoy, and there are no parking fees or day use fees! White Ranch Park is a favorite among mountain bikers, runners, and hikers in Golden and those willing to make the short drive to the mountains. The overall White Ranch Park has over 20 miles of trails, spanning over 5,100 acres of nature to enjoy. The trails range from gentle to rugged terrain for any skill level. The Shorthorn Loop is a medium-distance loop option from the southern parking area that is most easily accessed from the city.

The trail starts at the White Ranch Park Southern access point and uses a mix of the Belcher Hill, Shorthorn, Longhorn, and Whippletree trails. It can also be done in either direction, but this description will focus on the clockwise loop. Park in the gravel lot just off Deer Meadow Trail Road and start north on the Belcher Hill Trail. Views of North Table Mountain will dominate the skyline to your back. Keep straight until you see a sign for the Longhorn Trail on the right, take that, and start the undulating balcony path northbound along the loop. Views of the foothills and Ralston Reservoir open up to the north and give you plenty to look at as you make your way right on the Shorthorn Trail and onward.

The Shorthorn Trail eventually meets back up with the Longhorn Trail and turns sharply right downhill; this will be the steepest section, so watch your step as the dirt can be quite slippery in good and especially in bad weather. The next intersection will be with the Whippletree Trail. Keep to the left and a gentle path connecting you back with the Belcher Hill Trail will signal the final mile and last bit back to your car. On this trail you can expect to find a good mix of open meadow, forested sections along the Shorthorn Trail, and dirt canyons along the Longhorn Trail on the way back. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers and other enthusiasts, as these trails are bound to be crowded on most weekends.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Varied terrain. Great views. Accessible.

Cons

Can be crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

6,189.00 ft (1,886.41 m)

Highest point

7,054.00 ft (2,150.06 m)

Net Elevation Gain

880.00 ft (268.22 m)

Features

Family friendly
Vault toilet
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Horseback riding

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.