One of the best things about hiking at Golden Gate Canyon State Park is the history; walking the paths of this park takes visitors back more than 140 years ago to the time when immigrants and homesteaders were settling in these valleys.
In 1868, John Frazer decided to give up on his plans to make a fortune as a miner and try his luck as a farmer. He moved from Black Hawk, to an area that is now in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. He built a cabin and a barn next to a hay field. Twenty-six years later, in 1894, Frazer was hauling logs on a wagon when a chain broke loose and Frazer was killed. While Frazer died more than 117 years ago, the remnants of his barn still stand next to a large meadow about two miles from the Frazier Meadow Trailhead.
The Frazer Meadow Trailhead is about 0.4 miles from the Visitor’s Center. (Directions below) Visitors will find a dirt parking lot with a bathroom.
The hike starts in the trees and quickly crosses a stream. For the first mile, hikers will enjoy the sound of the water crashing over the rocks in the small stream bed as they hike up the trail. This is the Horseshoe Trail. All of the trails in the park are named for animals, except this one, which is named for a part of a horse.
The trail gains 670 feet in the first 1.2 miles as it climbs to the first campsite. At the trail splits, read the signs carefully, you want to stay on the Horseshoe Trail, do not take the side trails to the campsites.
After 1.9 miles of hiking, the Horseshoe Trail intersects with the Mule Deer Trail. Turn right on the Mule Deer trail and hike just 0.2 miles to the barn. Hikers will easily spot the large structure at the edge of a meadow. While the barn’s roof and walls are falling in, you can easily see this was an imposing structure in the 1860s/1870s. A sign tells the history of John Frazer’s life and death. While it is not safe to go in the barn, hikers may find an old mower on the edge of the meadow.
Just past the barn are a series of rocks with a view of the meadow and the barn. This is a nice lunch spot before retracing your steps back to the trailhead. One note, just past the barn, there is a side trail that promises a spring 0.2 miles away. We hiked the faint trail nearly 0.3 miles and found nothing.
When planning this hike, spring is a great time to visit if you enjoy the sound of rushing water in the stream along a trail. However, summer is a treat because of the plentiful wildflowers. But fall may be the best time to visit because there are so many aspens to put on a colorful show.
Details: The hike to the barn is about 2.1 miles each way with 900 feet of elevation gain. Add extra mileage for exploring the meadow and if you want to hike further into the park.
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 0.4 miles to the Frazer Meadows Trailhead.
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