Gold Star Canyon Date: 5/17/2010 Difficulty: Hard Miles: Approx. 9 Miles Round Trip Rating: Type: Loop/Shuttle Traihead GPS Coordinates: 39° 5’26.72″N, 108°41’23.88″W
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Gold Star Canyon is located towards the Northwest end of the Colorado National Monument just off of South Broadway. The easiest way to get there is to follow Broadway until you come to South Broadway, turn left and the trail head will be a small pull off on the left or South side of the road. It’s hard to miss because it is one of the few places that allows access through the Monuments boundary fence.
The trail starts out with a gentle slope upwards and turns pretty close to vertical in short order. The first section of the trail is the most strenuous of the whole thing. The trail zig zags its way up the cliff of Precambrian Granite and is a very steep climb. It’s not too bad because you can stop and rest occasionally and enjoy the view of the valley as you climb. Once you get to the top of the hill the trail levels out nicely. A short distance later you will come to a Y and the GoldStar Canyon trail goes to the left and the right hand trail will lead you into Monument Canyon.
After hiking a ways into the canyon you will come to another branch in the trail. Once again the GoldStar Canyon trail stays to the left and the right branch appears to climb towards the upper cliffs of the canyon. I’ve heard that you can climb out of GoldStar Canyon and out over Monument Mesa and over to Liberty Cap. I’m assuming this right branch is the one that goes past Ottos Bath Tub and connects to the Upper Liberty Cap Trail, but I’m not sure.
As you continue hiking along the trail you will pass various large boulders and lots of good views of the valley. I’ve heard there were numerous petroglyphs on this trail but I only found one about one hundred yards into the trail that leads to Monument Canyon.
The trail continues to follow the bench along the towering cliffs. About a 1/4 of the way there is a square fenced off area just up the hillside on the right and an old rock trough looking structure just off of the trail. It is very curious what this area was used for in the past, now its just a dilapidated fence overgrown with plants. If any one knows what this place was let me know. The trail continues to travel along its easterly route going around deep canyons that look like they were gashed out of the side of the hill.
I did run across a rock cairn that marked a trail that looked like it headed off the side of the hill and hooks into the trail along the boundary fence. I debated on taking that because it seemed like I had already hiked a long ways, but I decided to stay on the trail I was on and keep plodding along. If you take the trail over the side of the hill, explore at your own risk.
After about four to five hours of hiking I was starting to wonder where this trail came out and if it was going to allow me to get off of the mountain. The trail appeared to be getting fainter and fainter the farther I went. You can imagine my suprise and relief when it finally popped out of the junipers and connected up with the lower Liberty Cap trail. From this point on I knew exactly where I was and things went well.
The trail down from Liberty Cap was very steep in spots and there was plenty of loose pebbles which made it easy to ski down if you weren’t careful. Once at the bottom it was smooth sailing following the boundary fence back West to the trail head. The bottom section of this trail is fairly un-eventful, there really isn’t much to look at and after exploring the upper section of the trail it tends to make you just plug along to get back.
Overall this is a neat hike and one I would recommend if you want to do a rather long one. There are a few areas up there I still want to explore.