Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate +
Elevation: 4809-5327 feet
Cellphone: 5 bars
Usage: Hiking -No Dogs
Time: 1 hr. 15 min.
Trailhead: Gold Star Canyon
View Gold Star Canyon in a larger map
There are 3 different good hikes that can be made from the Gold Star Canyon Trailhead. This hike took us up on top of the Precambrian bench and then northward to Monument Canyon and back along the buffalo boundary fence to the trailhead. A little extra time was spent scouting around boulders so the actual length of the trail is probably a little shorter.
The Gold Star Canyon trailhead is nothing more than a little pullout along South Broadway on the Redlands. There aren't any trail markers to mark any of the routes but the trails are pretty easy to follow. There are a few places where the correct trail requires a little hunting.
There are multiple trails going in all directions from the trailhead. We took the route directly in front of us. The trail crossed the dry stream bed and began climbing the wall of Precambrian granite that runs the full length of the east side of the Colorado National Monument from Monument Canyon to Devil's Kitchen.
The first section of the trail is pretty steep. The trail climbs 450 feet in about a quarter of a mile. That's a pretty strenuous climb but the rest of the hike was more of a nice stroll.
After reaching the top of the Precambrian and hiking a hundred yards or so there was a fork in the trail. The left fork headed into the canyon and the right fork trailed off to the right towards Monument Canyon. For this hike I followed the trail to the right.
A short distance further brought us to the first obvious example of rock art. There was a sun symbol etched in the black patina of a large boulder. The drawing is easily visible from the main trail that passes about 20 feet to the right. I can't tell for myself if this particular etching is ancient or modern.
For the next mile the trail wove around boulders and Juniper trees as it approached the mouth of Monument Canyon. Once we reached Monument Canyon we could look west and see Independence Rock towering above the canyon floor. We had only hiked about 1.4 miles to this point and we were already descending back to the valley floor.
The descent seemed more gradual than the trail coming up did. There was a little scree on the trail but it didn't seem too bad. About half way down the hill there was a trail that branched off to the left that leads into Monument Canyon. We stayed on the main trail that took us the rest of the way to the bottom.
Once we reached the bottom we followed the easy path through the sagebrush back to the trailhead. This hike was fairly short but the climbing added enough difficulty to make it seem a little longer than it was. We could have hiked the route in the opposite direction but I would rather climb the steep end of the route than descend it.
This is a good hike to take the kids and enjoy a picnic. It may be a little difficult managing smaller children but this is the sort of thing that I have always drug my kids up. There are lots of boulders to explore and play around. There isn't much in the way of cryptobiotic soil along the trail. If you do happen to see some it would be a good time to teach the kids about soil erosion and the important role the cryptobiotic soil plays in preserving the landscape. We saw fresh deer tracks and bighorn tracks and a few other animal tracks. One thing we didn't see were any other hikers. This little loop made for an enjoyable hike. If you want to enjoy it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.