When we say Golden, most of you think Coors. And not much else. Think again. Golden, Colorado is more mountain-town than Denver, but still urban. It’s got all the hardcore outdoor sport cred of Boulder and without the attitude. It’s got all the beta-in-the-cofee-shop vibe of a mountain town, but none of the insularity. Oh, and it may just be the best adventure sport destination on the Front Range. And unlike most mountain towns, where all the action shifts to the ski resort in winter. It’s blessed with some balmy days in the off season, making it a prime place to climb and bike all year long. Plus, it’s home to the American Mountaineering Center, which hosts presentations by some of the world’s best alpinists and environmentalists, includes the best collection of climbing literature on the planet. Add a long list of brew pubs, eateries and of course that tour of the Coors factory and you have our favorite town on the Front Range.
NORTH TABLE MOUNTAIN
North Table Mountain is home to a tough 10-mile mountain bike loop comprised of mostly single track, 13 separate crags and, um, rattlesnakes, so be careful of both yourself and pets (and carry a snake bite kit). Circling North Table is a winding and bumpy ride that is especially good to hit in winter, as it’s generally clear of snow, but should be avoided after precipitation so as to not damage the trail. The ride passes many climbing routes. Routes here are a variety of bolted basalt lines around 20 meters in length that can often be accessed from above for those who want to setup top ropes. The best sub crag at North Table is The Quarry Wall, which offers up steep, sustained and demanding cracks.
West of North Table, along Highway 6, paralleling Clear Creek, there are hundreds of (generally) bolted climbs on featured gneiss. This area is usually cooler than North Table, but some areas receive direct winter sun making them feel like mini ovens, even on a sub-freezing day. Routes in Clear Creek range from 5.10 to 5.14. The most rewarding are the 30-meter, gently overhanging climbs on Wall of the 90s, and short, thuggish lines at the Wall of Justice. Additional crags include the über popular Canal Zone, where on any given day dozens of School of Mines students can be seen peppered on the crags along many moderate lines. Additional crags include: High Wire Crag, Little Eiger and the Catslab. Of course, you can also find some fine ice here in the winter in climbs like Coors Light (WI2-3).
Lookout Mountain, on the south side of Clear Creek Canyon, features steep, demanding riding for both mountain and road cyclists. The single track Chimney Gulch is 2,000 feet of vertiginous, tight trail running and riding that will demand everything from both your lungs and thighs. Alternatively, this is a great place to go with friends and shuttle cars to the summit, in order to skip the hard work, and just run laps to the base. The paved road leading up Lookout is popular for riders, and provides spectacular views up east of Clear Creek and west over Denver. There’s no finer time to ride Lookout than sunset, but bring plenty of warm layers for the descent as once the sun dips behind the mountain it’s a shady steep ride back to town with a bitter cold wind chill factor.
Heart of Golden
Eats, Gyms, Guides and More
Mountain Toad Brewing
The new pub in town offers eight different brews including seasonal and experimentals and rotating food vendors. mountaintoadbrewing.com
Offering exceptional Himalayan food, Sherpa House is decorated with authentic representations of the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal. ussherpahouse.com
Voted best café in Jefferson County, The Windy Saddle is kid, student and dirtbag friendly. windysaddle.com
Golden River Sports
Golden River provides custom fly rod building classes, kayaking and SUP services, fly fishing and guided trips, events and lessons. The shop is located mere minutes from Golden’s Whitewater Kayaking play park course and the “Golden Mile” fishing habitat in Clear Creek. goldenriversports.net
American Mountaineering Center
The epicenter of climbing culture contains a mountaineering education department, art museum, extensive library, auditorium and climbing wall. The center also provides public events, exhibits and conferences. americanmountaineeringcenter.org
Earth Treks Golden Climbing Center
This brand-new climbing gym has over 25,000 square feet of climbing walls up to 48 feet high, plus a fitness center strength training area and even a yoga room. earthtreksclimbing.com
Golden Bike Shop
All you need—friendly mechanics, trail beta, custom builds, fat, road and mountain bike rentals. goldenbikeshop.com
Bent Gate Mountaineering
Need gear, beta and rentals? Just want to browse. Bent Gate is far more than a retail store. bentgate.com