3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
While Goulding Creek is a great hike all year long, it is "especially nice in September and early October when the aspen groves are shimmering gold," according to [DurangoTrails.org](https://www.durangotrails.org/trails/hermosa-area/goulding-creek-trail).
Goulding Creek climbs steeply from Highway 550, gaining about 2,200 feet of elevation in three miles, most of which comes in the first 1.5 miles or so.
The trail switchbacks back and forth as it climbs the steep mountainside, but thankfully, the beautiful aspen groves and occasional views through the trees will help keep your mind off the aerobic difficulty. After you've gained the top of the ridge, "the trail leads above the Hermosa cliffs and poises you for a great view across the Animas Valley," according to Jenna Mulligan on [TheOutbound.com](https://www.theoutbound.com/colorado/hiking/hike-goulding-creek).
You'll also break out into beautiful meadows and, eventually, gain views into the Hermosa Creek Valley. A logical turnaround point for the hike is an old log cabin and a corral, "both of which are moderately intact despite decades and decades of weather," according to Mulligan.
If you choose to continue on, you'll connect to the greater Hermosa Creek trail network.
In theory, you could create a multi-week backpacking expedition in this region, but the route mapped here provides a more bite-sized itinerary. Sources: [DurangoTrails.org](https://www.durangotrails.org/trails/hermosa-area/goulding-creek-trail) [TheOutbound.com](https://www.theoutbound.com/colorado/hiking/hike-goulding-creek)