The Rawhide Trail is a very popular loop hike within Colorado’s White Ranch Park, a beautiful open space area operated by Jefferson County. We love the Rawhide Trail for its sheer beauty, with expansive meadow views and peaceful evergreen forest strolls. The trailhead is only about 30 miles from Denver, making the Rawhide Trail an ideal day hike or trail run. At 5.3 miles in length and with about 900 feet of elevation gain, the trail is moderately challenging. Indeed, the park rates most Rawhide Trail segments as “More Difficult,” which is their middle difficulty rating.
HIKE REVIEW SERIES: Rawhide TRAIL
Rawhide Trail Guide
- Round Trip Distance: 5.3 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 900 ft.
- Trail Type: Loop
- Trailhead: West Trailhead
- Coordinates: 39.818797, -105.286527
- Dogs Permitted?: Yes, on leash
- Step 1 - Park at the White Ranch Park West Trailhead parking lot, just off of Belcher Hill Rd. There is no fee to park is this lot or to enter White Ranch Park.
- Step 2 - Beginning the loop hike in a counter-clockwise direction, bear right onto the Rawhide connector trail from the parking lot. The Longhorn connector trail starts at this point as well, so be sure to stay on the Rawhide Trail. [0.1 miles]
- Step 3 - The Rawhide Trail is clearly marked with wooden stakes and signs, so it is easy to follow the route. Continue along to the main segment of the Rawhide Trail and enjoy the expansive open meadow views to your left. Head downhill towards the intersection of Wrangler’s Run branch trail. [0.9 miles]
- Step 4 - Bear right to stay on the Rawhide Trail. Continue along the Rawhide Trail gaining slight elevation. Along the way, you’ll see the Ralston Reservoir peeking through the trees on your righthand side. Keep going until you reach the junction with the Waterhole Trail on your left. The Waterhole Trail is a branch trail that will take you to the Sourdough Springs Campground, should you choose to camp. [1.6 miles]
- Step 5 - Continue straight on the Rawhide Trail and loop around the Sourdough Springs Campground, eventually reaching another junction of the Waterhole Trail and a separate trail to campsites 1-4. [0.9 miles]
- Step 6 - As the trail continues, you’ll pass some backcountry campgrounds. Pass the campground area and head toward another junction of the Wrangler’s Run Trail, which will be on your left. You’ll start back towards the other side of the open meadow. [0.6 miles]
- Step 7 - Head past the Wrangler’s Run Trail and catch another fantastic view of the open meadows to your left. Reach the junction of the Belcher Hill Trail, which will be on your right. [0.8 miles]
- Step 8 - Stay on the Rawhide Trail and end the hike back in the White Ranch Park West Trailhead parking area. Enjoy the rest of your day! [0.4 miles]
- Entrance Fees: None. White Ranch Park has no entry or parking fees.
- Park Hours: Daily; one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
- Pets: Dogs are permitted on the trail, but must be on leash.
- Camping: Permits are required; purchase via Jefferson County’s reservation system for $12.00 per night.
White Ranch Park is located in Jefferson County, north of Golden, CO. The park has two trailhead parking lots: East Trailhead and West Trailhead. The Rawhide Trail is closest to the West Trailhead parking lot, commonly accessed via Golden Gate Canyon Rd. to Crawford Gulch Rd., with a sharp turn onto Belcher Hill Rd.
Park at the White Ranch West Trailhead Parking Lot. There are ample parking spots, but arrive early to secure a space, especially on weekends.
Always check the weather forecast before venturing into wilderness. Although White Ranch Park is not at an extremely high elevation, still plan ahead. If the weather is not ideal, plan your trip for another day. Safety first!
RECOMMENDED HIKING APPAREL AND GEAR
For a well-rounded and more interpretive Colorado Open Space experience, we recommend picking up a few naturalist guides. An easy to use field guide for plants and birds will help identify species and further add to the enjoyment of your time outdoors.
- Plants of the Rocky Mountains
- Sibley Birds West: Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
- Roadside Geology of Colorado
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