Explore Colorado / Explore The Outdoors

Hike to Forgotten Valley in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

This is a hike with a history lesson. It’s an ultra-family friendly hike to a historic homestead. Four generations of Swedish-Americans lived at the Tallman Ranch in Forgotten Valley in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Take a picnic and fishing poles. There’s a pond stocked with trout. It’s a wonderful fall hike and easy to add additional mileage. There are over 35 miles of hiking trails in the park. Twelve trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park are named after an animal and marked with the animal’s footprint.

For a 2.6 round trip hike, I started at the Brodge Creek Trailhead immediately crossing over a little bridge and through some willows on the Burro Trail. Then I headed through a forest of aspens, alders and pines on a pretty easy gradual incline getting some great views fairly quickly on this trail. As the forest opens up to meadow, the trail flattens out. The Burro Trail intersects Mountain Lion Trail at the 0.6 mile mark. Turn left on Mountain Lion Trail and it is 0.7 miles to Forgotten Valley. I went in and out of forest and meadows on the trail and really enjoyed seeing some golden aspens.

There is a small trout pond right in front of the main ranch house. Keep following the trail around the pond to get to the ranch house, which dates back to 1876. Anders Tallman emigrated from Sweden. He and his wife Christina built their home along Nott Creek. Because of the remote location of the homestead, it was referred to as “Forgotten Valley.” Four generations of Swedish-Americans lived on the ranch. Behind the ranch house you’ll find the chicken house and the stables. The best view is from the porch of the ranch house. As I sat in the swing on the front porch taking in the serene setting, I imagined what their life was life was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s in this remote location.

I did the short walk down to the pond going through some willows and out onto a little sandy beach. It’s a perfect spot to do a little fishing.

On my way back down Mountain Lion Trail, I turned right to hike to the City Lights Ridge. It is a rockier and steeper half mile trail than the portion of Mountain Lion Trail I took all the way to Forgotten Valley. After about a quarter of a mile I was out of the forest getting great views as I traversed the open hillside. I climbed above a rock outcropping then scrambling up to the top of City Lights Ridge. The panoramic view is fantastic, but the best view is looking down into Forgotten Valley for a great view of Tallman Ranch.

If you take the Burro Trail to Mountain Lion Trail route to Forgotten Valley, it is 1.3 miles for a round trip hike of 2.6 miles. The City Lights Ridge adds an additional mile to the hike.

Elevation gain is only 352′ if you only do the out and back to Forgotten Valley. If you add City Lights Ridge, you get a quick 500′ elevation in a half mile.

In 1995, the Tallman Ranch was added to the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. A daily park pass for Golden Gate Canyon State Park is $10. There is abundant wildlife in this state park, including the mountain Lion I saw cross the road in my rear view mirror as I was driving out of the park!

Jennifer Broome has hiked extensively in Colorado. Check out Castle Ruins Hike in Morrison and Two Hikes Along Colorado’s Front Range blogs for more hikes close to Denver.