Round Trip Distance: 5.8 miles
Elevation: 5859 - 7451 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Red Mountain
Attractions: Scenic Overlook
View Red Mountain\Jeanne Golay in a larger map
The Red Mountain Jeanne Golay trail is located at Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The trail ascends a gravel switchback road to the electric cross overlook where spectacular views of the valley and Mount Sopris area await. A single track trail parallels most of the road. Mountain bikers usually ride their bikes up the road and then descend the single track. For this post we hike up the single track, so we don't have to keep looking over our shoulders for mountain bikes, and descend the road.
A number of routes will get you to the trailhead that is on West 9th Street. From downtown Glenwood Springs turn west onto 8th Street and cross the bridge over the Roaring Fork River. Turn right onto Midland Avenue and follow it to Red Mountain Drive and turn left. Stay on Red Mountain Drive to West 9th Street and turn right. The small trailhead is at the end of the public access just before the gate.
Pick up the trail to the west of the road where you can grab a few bags to cleanup after your dog if you brought it along. Follow the single track past the junction of the Olson Trail. The Olson Trail connects the Red Mountain and Wulfsohn trails.
To hike the single track look for the trail marker across the pavement. At this point most people go to the right and ascend the mountain by the road route.
As you hike up the drainage watch for a single track trail that breaks off on the left. You might notice some tracks left by mountain bikes
Hiking the single track is a lot steeper than hiking the road. That is because at 2.4 miles it is a full mile shorter than the 3.4 mile road is with all of its switchbacks. It gains the same 1600 feet of elevation in only two thirds of the distance.
The trail contacts the road 3 different times on the way up the mountain. The first place is about the 3/4 mile point. Short hikes could be made by taking advantage of the close proximity of the two trails.
The next place of contact is at the 1 mile point where you have to actually hike up the road a hundred yards or so.
The spot where the single track departs from the road again is clearly marked.
The third time the trail meets the road is at about the 1.4 mile point.
This time you have to stay on the road for about a quarter mile as it goes around several switchbacks on its way up the mountain. At one of those switchbacks the single track makes its departure and doesn't meet the road again until just before the overlook.
As you hike up the mountain some of the entertainment comes in the form of watching the paragliders that launch from the overlook drift down to the valley below. They land in a field off of the Glenwood Springs River Trail.
There is quite an illuminating story that you can read about the electric cross that towers above the overlook on a sign near the trailhead.
Mount Sopris dominates the valley to the south. In other directions you can see over most of the Glenwood Canyon area and down into Glenwood Springs itself.
The actual Red Mountain trail is by itself a pleasant enough hike. It gathers shade from tall stands of spruce and many other varieties of trees. Since the road is closed to the public about the only traffic is from the paragliders being ferried up the mountain and an occasional rancher.
Jeanne Golay's name was appended to the trails name to honor a local Glenwood resident that used the trail to train for the 3 gold medals that she had earned in the National Roadracing Championships the same year she competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. So whether you are training for the Olympics or looking for a good trail for hiking, running or mountain biking the Red Mountain trail welcomes all comers. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.