Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cenntenial Cone: Mayhem Gulch and and Juniper Trail Loop

Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 6,620 ft - 7,542 ft
Elevation Gain: 922 ft (cumulative)
Bathroom at Trailhead: Yes
Dogs: On leash, Jefferson County Open Space

Rolling hills and Ponderosa Pine are the primary views from Centennial Cone Open Space
Centennial Cone Open Space near Golden Colorado is one of the newest open space parks in Jefferson County. Its 3,000 plus acres surrounds a 8,679 ft hill called...you guessed it...Centennial Cone. While there is a very long twelve-mile loop that circumnavigates this monolith, there is no trail up it, which will frustrate any peak bagger looking with anticipation at the topo map. There are a couple of shorter routes from the Mayhem entrance (covered in this post), and the Camio Perdidio entrance off of Golden Gate Canyon Rd. This makes Cenntennial Cone more popular with mountain bikers than hikers, the former getting to ride without interference on alternating days (see the PDF calendar on the official web page).

Trailhead
Trail map showing the Mayhem Gulch-Juniper Trail Loop
The Mayhem Gulch entrance is located 9.5 miles up Clear Creek Rd/Hwy 6 out of Golden, CO. This route follows the twisted path of Clear Creek, which survived the 2013 floods much better than its northern neighbors. There is a large parking lot on the right hand side with an obvious trailhead.

Looking down on the trailhead and Clear Creek
The Mayhem Gulch Trail begins climbing right away in a series of long drawn out switchbacks that weave in and out of the crenelations in the hillside. South facing, this hillside is covered in Sagebrush, Utah Juniper, and Ponderosa Pine. Blessedly, it can feel warm even on a less than ideal day.

A hillside covered in Utah Juniper. The trail cuts across the middle.
At the junction of the Mayhem Gulch Trail and the Juniper Trail (1.7 miles, 518 ft elevation gain) we chose to go left. At 2.5 miles we arrived at the junction of the Juniper and Travois Trails. It is just a short jaunt to get back to the Mayhem Gulch Trail.

Sagebrush and blue skies. A typical Front Range tableau in early Autumn.
Cenntential Cone is typical Front Range Open Space. It is great for shoulder season hiking or a sun fix on a cool day. If you monitor the mountain bike calendar, then you can be assured of hiking free of the two wheelers. For a longer hike, take a side trip up the Travois Trail, which in one mile leads to some interesting rock formations.

Typical trail segment of packed dirt and open views

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