Possibly one of the most memorable hiking destinations in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a place called Forgotten Valley.
In the 1870s, as Colorado was becoming a state, families from Sweden were settling in the valleys of this area, about 10 miles from the mining fields of Black Hawk and Central City. One of those families was Anders Tallman and his children. Tallman bought a one-room school house, moved it to this valley, added a porch and kitchen and had his home. Over the years, he added several buildings, two of which are still standing, along with the house.
The hike starts at the Bridge Creek Trailhead (directions below). Wander past the bathrooms, through the picnic area, over a bridge and begin climbing the trail up the hill. The trail quickly gains 100 feet in elevation in just the first quarter mile, so the hike may be difficult for children.
Hikers follow the Burro Trail 0.75 miles to the Mountain Lion Trail. Turn left on the Mountain Lion Trail. You should see a sign that says 0.7 miles the Forgotten Valley here. (The trail is actually another mile.) The Mountain Lion Trail starts as a wide trail and quickly becomes an old Jeep road. Along the way you’ll find the trail drops a bit before climbing up to Forgotten Valley. While the hike is short, it gains about 500 feet to the Tallman Family Ranch.
As you hike up the tree lined Jeep road, suddenly the view opens up and you will see a large pond and several buildings in the distance. This is the Tallman Family Ranch. A sign explains some of the history of the buildings including how the family channeled the creek into their milk house to keep eggs, butter and milk cool and fresh.
While you can turn around here, it’s worth the short walk over to the ranch buildings. Hike just past the house to the barn and another structure. Then return to the main house. You can look in the windows, then have a seat on the porch. Enjoy a snack or lunch as you look over the same pond Andres Tallman looked at. According to the book, Walking Into Colorado’s Past, Tallman suffered a stroke in 1890, but would spend his days sitting on the porch with a gun shooting elk and deer that strayed into his potato field.
After you’ve explored, you can return the way you came or hike another two miles to Windy Peak.
Details: The hike to Forgotten Valley is 3 miles roundtrip with about 600 feet of elevation gain. Add a little mileage to explore the ranch buildings.
Directions: From Highway 93 In Golden, take Golden Gate Canyon State Park Road about 13 miles to Crawford Gulch Road. Turn right, then take the next right into the Visitor Center parking lot. After paying the entrance fee at the Visitor’s Center, take Crawford Gulch Road about 2 miles to the Bridge Creek Trailhead.
At Golden Gate Canyon State Park, you may also want to visit Frazer Meadow. For more hikes in Golden, Jefferson County, Boulder, Colorado and the west, click here.
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