Apex Gulch

By Chris
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This trail is commonly known as just Apex. It sits out by Heritage Square in Golden. It has a bit of everything. Leg burning climbs, nasty switchbacks, rolling XC, pinch flatting downhills.

You start Apex at the lower parking lot, just below the parking for Heritage Square, take off on the north end of the lot and proceed up and Apex Trail for just under a mile. When you hit the spot where they’ve layed all the rocks out on the little climb, jump on it and see if you can make it up. If it’s not dusty, it’s not too bad, otherwise you might spin your wheels.

Right after that little climb, hang a right on Pick n’ Sledge. On sunny afternoons, this part of the climb is a scorcher, make sure you have plenty of fluid along to drink. Climb up Pick n’ Sledge and keep climbing. It’s a bit of a grunt, but this section is actually less than a mile. You will “Top Out” this section of the climb at the junction with Grubstake Loop.

Take Grubstake Loop and follow it around. It’s mostly rolling cross country with a little exposure. You will catch a brief respite from the sun here. You might be tempted to head up Bonanza (on your left as you ride), but fight the temptation and follow Grubstake through the trees and up the backside of the hill. There are a couple of switchbacks here, but nothing tough. Once you top out, ride over the top and take Sluicebox.

Sluicebox has some tricky (update – oh man, are they sanitized) switchbacks. There is one in particular that endos the daring on a daily basis. It’s been sanitized (yup, it’s no longer the king), but it is still a difficult move. Continue on down the switchbacks until you hookup with Apex again.

At Apex, turn right (I have visions of Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter everytime I write that) and head uphill on Apex. The climb is slow and steady as you work your way up the Gulch towards a little treat.

Keep an eye out on your left after just around a mile. Take the Enchanted Forest trails and head back down the otherside of the gulch. Here you are in for a completely different ride. Negotiate the twisty trail over roots and small but difficult climbs. Enjoy the shade while you are there. The trail name is perfect for this section, because the low light in the area certainly bewitches me everytime I go through.

You will exit Enchanted Forest on Apex. Turn to… yup, you guessed it, the right. Bomb down Apex passing Sluicebox on the way down. Keep your wheels on the ground and your eyes on the trail, there is generally a lot of traffic on this section and it is easy to lose control with all of the sharp exposed bedrock. I pinch flat 30% of the time on this section.

Follow Apex Trail back down to the parking lot. This isn’t the only route through Apex Gulch, but it is certainly my favorite. Sometimes I take Sluicebox up and loop back around on Grubstake before hitting the Enchanted Forest and it is enjoyable that way as well.

Download the Google Earth .kml file here.

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