Length: 3.7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 650 ft
Trailhead: Patrick House Trailhead
Family Friendly? Yes
Genesee mountain is an unassuming landmark tucked back behind the front range peaks near Golden. This hike in particular is pretty flat and easy (relative to other Colorado hikes), and you can just skip the peak all together if it feels like too much. It is, however, one of the easiest peaks to summit in the area, and offers amazing views of the high peaks in the distance, so I recommend just doing it anyway. You can even drive up to 50ft below the summit.
Another neat aspect of this hike is it goes around a Buffalo enclosure. We got lucky and saw the herd when we went. You can also modify this hike and take the American Bison Trail, which gives you even more opportunities to see Buffalo. It shortens this hike by only a little and drops you back off on the loop.
This bison herd has been here at Genesee Game Preserve since 1914. In fact, this herd was the first to be reestablished in Colorado since the last buffalo in Colorado were killed in Lost Park in 1905. Since then, this herd at Genesee Park has helped maintain the history of the wild buffalo in Colorado and provide educational opportunities and a scenic destination for tourists.
Starting at the Patrick House trailhead, you can choose to do the loop clockwise or counterclockwise. We went counterclockwise so we could see the buffalo herd first (we could see them off in the distance up the trail).
Head up the Genesee Mountain trail along the fence and keep an eye out for buffalo. The trail is very wide and well-maintained so you might not trip as your rubbernecking for buffalo. This trail is also shared with mountain bikers, so keep an eye out for them.
Also keep in mind that buffalo, while generally docile, are wild animals and can easily hurt you. The signs recommend staying 3 feet away from the fence; use good judgment.
Another thing to note is dogs MUST be leashed at all times. There are dozens of signs about this posted everywhere, and I believe the ticket for this is not inexpensive.
In these photos you’ll see some snow, but that’s because we went in April. It’s still pretty easy to navigate through the snow this time of year, and it just doesn’t get as muddy here in the spring as it does on other trails. If you do this hike late May through September, you’ll most likely not see any snow.
Continue on the Genesee Mountain Trail until you reach a split – go left to stay on the Genesee Mountain Trail as the path to the right becomes Genesee Drive. The trail from here gets smaller but it’s still easy to walk on and well maintained.
Continuing forward you’ll encounter the split for the American Bison Trail. As mentioned before, this trail takes you along the buffalo enclosure so you have more opportunities to view buffalo. It eventually meets back up with the Genesee Mountain Trail, but it cuts off a substantial portion of the trail.
We did not take this detour, and stayed on the Genesee Mountain Trail. Not long after that you’ll run into the junction for the Genesee Summit Trail. Here you can choose to go to the summit or just stay on the Genesee Mountain Trail. We went to the summit and I recommend you do, too.
Turn left onto the summit trail and follow it to the parking lot near the summit. From there, take a short trail with a sign that says “Genesee Mountain Flagstaff” and you’ll be deposited at the summit. A flag pole marks the top of your journey.
From there head back down the way you came up. We went off-roading a little thinking there was a trail that didn’t exist, so don’t follow our GPX track this way down.
When you reach a junction a ways down, continue straight and cross a road. You should see a sign for the Genesee Mountain Trail again on the other side of the road. Follow this dirt trail again. You’ll stay on the Genesee Mountain Trail until the end of the hike.
The one downside to this hike is you pass by I-70 and get to hear the loud traffic noises, but it’s not for a significant portion of the hike so it’s not too bad.
At some point you’ll pass by the junction for the American Bison Trail; this is where it meets up again with the Genesee Mountain Trail.
Continue on until you reach the parking lot. You should pass over a bridge just before you get there. This bridge goes over a passageway used by the buffalo to migrate over to and underneath I-70. On the other side they can graze in the meadows near the Beaver Brook trailhead, which is another spectacular hike I recommend doing in the summer.
Even though the Genesee Mountain Trail offers amazing views and feels more secluded than some of the trails closer to Denver, it’s still only about a 30 minute drive from Denver.
From Denver, hop on I-70 and drive for a few miles until you begin your ascent into the mountains. Only about 5 miles in you should see the exit 253 for Chief Hosa.
Take this exit and turn left at the stop sign onto Moss Rock road. Continue on this road for only a couple blocks and turn left onto Genesee Ln. Take Genesee Ln 1 mile to the Patrick House trailhead.
Or, if you’re like me and can’t function without Google Maps, just type in “Patrick House Trailhead” and follow the directions there.
The trailhead has lots of parking, and we went on a Sunday in April and there were only about eight cars. There are also bathrooms at the trailhead.