Black Bear Trail to Ralston Roost

HARD 101 reviews

Black Bear Trail to Ralston Roost is a 4.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Golden, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1187 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
21 days ago

This is the first hike we did when we landed in CO from Michigan and it was brutal. Getting use to the elevation change in one day was tough but it was worth the challenge because it prepared us for a much higher hike the following day. Great hike with amazing views along the way.

26 days ago

Great trail to hike! Love the vista when you get to the top!

hiking
1 month ago

I liked this trail. Definitely felt like more than 4.6 miles. The first incline is pretty tough but after that it's not so bad, especially through most the second part of the loop until towards the end. The rock scrambling was a lot of fun. I went in early March and there was a lot of ice still but passable without spikes. $7 to get in.

1 month ago

Great, close to town. Short enough complete in a morning with enough elevation gain to make it worth it. Lots of ice/snow still on the trail. Recommend yaktrax!

trail running
4 months ago

Beautiful sites up at the top. Nice rock formations!

hiking
5 months ago

I chose the Black Bear Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park as an "acclimation hike" upon arriving in Colorado in preparation for a 14'er I would be climbing a few days later. The trail was rated as the most difficult by the park's visitor center. The hike maxed out at about 9200 feet and included awesome views of the snow-capped Front Range in the distance and the canyon below. The trail is rigorous, though not necessarily difficult, in my opinion. I was fascinated by the unusual evergreen scrub along the hike. Very enjoyable!

5 months ago

This trail is easy to access. Very rocky. I would rate it as hard. On the trail guide it is listed as "most difficult" If you are looking for beautiful views and water, this is not the trail to go on. However, it is still a wonderful place to visit, very peaceful.

hiking
6 months ago

Hiked on Sunday 10/29/2017

Pulled in the park-lot around 10:00am.
The lot wasn’t crowded at all. The trail head was really simple to get to and parking was a breeze! (FYI. You’ll need to purchase a $7.00 daily parking pass)

As for the trail itself we decided to go “backwards”, so we headed up off to the right side. So we started out on horseshoe trail and then looped back down black bear. I noticed it was rated Hard but I think it’s more of a Moderate hike. It was so cool this time of year..we got to hike through aspens and pines... we came across a little bit of snow on the trail but nothing much to worry about. It was fun to make the first snowball of the season though...
Views are spectacular at the top!
All around Awesome hike
Enjoy!

~nate

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike! I'd rate this between moderate and hard, but closer to hard. Signage was pretty good, but to complete the loop you actually go onto horseshoe trail about half way through versus being on black bear trail (at least according to signage) the whole time. Some slight scrambling when you get to the peak. Great scenery and really nice hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail for an early fall hike. The colors look like they are about 10 days - 2 weeks from popping.

I would classify this trail as Moderate, not Hard, but this was my first time in Golden Gate Canyon, so I can't rate this trail relative to other trails in the park.

hiking
8 months ago

Terrific! Hiked this loop this afternoon. Saw a family of 3 moose near the summit. Workout, views, critters - this one has it all.

9 months ago

awesome hike. challenging and fun. moderate traffic. amazing views at top.

hiking
9 months ago

So nice! We couldn't believe how few people we ran into (we were the only car parked at the trailhead on a Tuesday afternoon). Beautiful, shaded trail with lots of Aspens (I can see this being an amazing Fall hike) and several nice outcroppings. Trail is extremely well marked with signs. The map on All Trails suggests making it a loop with the Horseshoe Trail, which is wise and saves you some mileage. As an out and back, this would be closer to 5.6 miles, with some extra elevation gain on the way back. Wouldn't consider this a very difficult hike. There are some rocky bits, but not really any scrambling required. Hit up this park on August 7 for free entry (Colorado Parks Day)!

10 months ago

Love this route....

10 months ago

Did this trail a few days ago. The views weren't that great but the trial itself is really pretty. Lots of butterflies and aspens. Reminded me of scenes from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. the first half is pretty steep and uphill while the second half is pretty simple.

hiking
10 months ago

It was a great hike. I enjoyed going up through the black bear trail, because it was a lot more of climing and hiking all the way to the peak.

10 months ago

Gorgeous. Tough to find the trail several times. Unexpected incline toward the end!

hiking
10 months ago

Altogether a great trail and a good workout! I'd say this trail is somewhere between moderate and difficult (going clockwise and ascending via Black Bear). Depends on how good you are with quick elevation gains. I huffed and puffed my way up but was pretty much able to go at a constant pace while it was an easy walk for my husband. Despite ample signage, still managed to wind up off trail 3 times on the way up, but found the trail again pretty quickly. Black bear is rocky and narrow with some rock scrambling while mule deer/horseshoe are well worn, spacious dirt trails. Saw beautiful aspen groves, views of the mountains, wildflowers, and small streams. Pretty shady the entire time. Small parking area at ralston roost. If you park there and go clockwise, make sure you take a right at the last turn on horseshoe trail to return to that lot instead of continuing straight to horseshoe trail head/parking lot. stop at the visitors center to get your permit. we brought our little 15lb dog and he did great!

hiking
11 months ago

This hike was stunning! My daughter and I didn't think it was difficult, just a very steady upward climb with some mild rock scrambling at the top. The flowers were beautiful and the views are spectacular! We took the wrong trail back down (Mule Deer) and ended up having to walk the road back to our car so we ended up doing 6 miles.

11 months ago

Great loop. Black bear trail has some great views at the top and can be hard at points. The horseshoe side of the loop is pretty casual with a few steep spots. Good mix of rigorous exercise and relatively easy stroll through the woods.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful trail. Moderate B hike classification. Don't know why people are saying this is hard. Hard is South Boulder Peak via Shadow Canyon.

The trail is rocky at some points but not difficult at all. These aren't like difficult boulder fields! Seriously, peeps this is a moderate climb. Plus there were tons of wildflowers to look at on the trail.

Black bear trail to Mule deer trail to Horseshoe trail. Did little bit off-trail bush whacking hiking at Mule Deer to see if there was a way to the upper Meadow- there wasn't. Lower Frazer Meadow, where the cabin is, good spot for lunch.

Awesome views at Ralston Roost of still snow capped Epaulet, Rosalie, Mt. Evans and Indian Peaks.

Wildflowers are out and are fabulous- everything from Calypso orchids, Shooting Stars, Star Solomon Seal to Wallflowers etc. We, being wildflowers enthusiasts, had to stop frequently to take pics of the fantastic wildflowers.

hiking
11 months ago

Great hike! Challenging at times but "Most Difficult" not at all. Did another one nearby, labeled moderate, and it was definitely more strenuous! Couple of spots where I wished for a sign but overall it is very well marked in the necessary places. It's Memorial Day weekend and still not very busy. The Horseshoe trail is much busier (and easier) than Black Bear but Black Bear has the great views! The road is really a non-issue. You can't be this close to town, on a 4-5 mile trail & not expect SOME signs of civilization. And you can barely hear it anyway.

hiking
11 months ago

We hiked Black Bear Trail and connected to Horseshoe Trail. This route is a loop hike and ended up being 5 miles exactly. The first part of the hike (Black Bear Trail) was slightly more difficult because of the steep, steady incline and a small amount of scrambling at the top of the trail before you hit the switchbacks. Lovely views and overall a fun hike.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Taken at a leisurely pace this wasn't that hard- minor scrambling for a short section. Connected in to mule trail and came back down in horseshoe and back to black bear to finish out.

hiking
Thursday, May 11, 2017

great trail, gorgeous views. a little close to the road but that's what you get with being so close to the city. trail shoes highly recommended. there are some good campsites as well. had a few ticks on us in ealy may, so to a check on your hike!

hiking
Thursday, April 27, 2017

This is a 4.5/5 for me. the scenery was beautiful, nice wide shot of the snow capped mountains at the summit. And a decent workout for such a short trail. (We went clockwise and it was more of a workout than counter would have been.) Only reason it's not a 5 star is its too close to the highway. It was low, but you could still hear hums from the highway, and a large road suddenly appears down below once you hit the summit. Wasn't as secluded as i normally would like but it was quiet enough we'd go again.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Very pretty surroundings and amazing views at the top. Trail was difficult to follow as it's lightly traveled in some parts. I think it was above the moderate rating provided on this site. The sign at the trailhead said "most difficult". Will do again and highly recommend to others. Just be ready for uneven footing the entire way.

hiking
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Got confused on which way to go a few times when if goes through some rock patches, but for the most part it's pretty straightforward, first half of the trail has no ice, and very little muddy patches, second part- going down hill was pretty icy, not as easily reached by the sun. Gorgeous views and only saw 1 person the entire time!

hiking
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Loved this hike. Some rock scrambling and lots of amazing views. A really great workout and very little traffic. Be careful though, it can be easy to lose the trail. There are markers where it really counts, but some points can be tricky. Easy enough to figure out in the end though.

hiking
Monday, September 26, 2016

Nice challenge. I was 8mo pregnant and handled this just fine. There's some rock scrambling.

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