3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
To get to the top of Lookout Mountain, you could take the easy way (driving the road), or the hard way—hiking Chimney Gulch.
This route is a linkup of three trails that makes a determined ascent from the town of Golden to the 7,372-foot mountaintop.
It’s a challenging but highly rewarding workout and an easy trip from Denver. The summit of Lookout Mountain has a parking area, visitor center, historic buildings, and a lofty overlook of Golden and Denver.
You’ll feel like you really earned this vista if you make the human-powered ascent of Chimney Gulch, however, rather than taking the drive.
Points throughout the hike provide broad views of the surrounding landscape, including Clear Creek Canyon and peaks of the Front Range in the distance. The trail travels through a mix of sunny, brushy slopes and shady pine forest.
It is a steep and steady uphill on mostly dirt, but occasionally rocky, surface.
The trail is shared with mountain bikers, who may come downhill at high speed.
They should know to yield to hikers, however. The hike is mapped here from Highway 6 to Lookout Mountain Summit.
Note that it crosses Lookout Mountain Road in two places.
Either crossing makes an intermediate trailhead if you want a shorter hike, but parking is scarcer at both spots than along Highway 6.
From the second crossing of Lookout Road, in Windy Saddle Park, you will be following Lookout Mountain Trail for almost a mile.
The final half-mile to the summit is on the hiker-only Buffalo Bill Trail. Sources: https://www.cityofgolden.net/play/recreation-attractions/trails/chimney-gulch-trail/ https://www.visitgolden.com/listing/chimney-gulch-trail/3967/ https://www.jeffco.us/DocumentCenter/View/9388/Windy-Saddle-Park-Map