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This trail is very steep and north-facing, meaning ice can pose a serious risk during the winter and early spring. Use caution and bring crampons if you are hiking from November-March.
This short but steep hike takes you up onto the Precambrian Bench of Colorado National Monument and then into Gold Star Canyon. This trail can be hiked solo or used as part of a loop for a series of trails.
Gold Star Canyon was given its English name by John Otto, the founder of Colorado National Monument. There is a petroglyph of a circle with radiating rays near the canyon's mouth on the bench, but it is unsure whether this is related to the name; Otto claimed to name the canyon after Army widows. For thousands of years prior to their forcible removal in the 1880s, the Utes and their ancestors lived in and around the canyon - rock art can be found nearby from over 1,000 years ago.
The hike starts at the South Broadway/White Rocks trailhead. There is a kiosk with a map and description of the hikes from the trailhead, so take a look before getting started. From the kiosk, a series of trails criss-cross the flats below the Bench. Across a wash, the trail can be seen ascending the slope of the bench. Follow the track(s) that generally head in that direction - they coalesce on the southwest side of the wash into one trail.
About a tenth of a mile after you left the trailhead, just after the wash, the trail begins to ascend steeply up the face of the bench. 400 of the 575 feet of elevation gain on this hike come in the following quarter mile through a series of tight and steep switchbacks. During warm weather, the shaded north face allows for shade breaks, but the winter makes this section treacherous.
Once on top of the Bench, you'll find yourself in a pinyon-juniper forest at the mouth of Gold Star Canyon. The trail continues to rise slightly towards the mouth, and less than a tenth of a mile later, you will come to a trail junction. The right-hand path will lead you on the North Gold Star loop while heading straight takes you into Gold Star Canyon itself.
Once in Gold Star Canyon, the hiking is easy and pleasant, with the trail winding through the pinyon-juniper and the tall redrock cliffs and spires surrounding you. One mile from the trailhead, the trail drops down into the main wash draining Gold Star Canyon. From here, the trail makes a T. Turning left will take you on the Bench Trail, and turning right will take you up the Steps to Otto's Bathtub. Both of these are (or will be) described elsewhere on the site. Alternately, you can turn around and return to your vehicle.
None, bring all you need.
It is popular to backpack in Colorado National Monument, but Gold Star Canyon is not a terribly popular destination. It requires a permit from the Visitor's Center.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.