This Golden foothills loop hike features excellent views, varied terrain, and includes the White Ranch hiker's backpacking campground known as the Sawmill Hiker Camp. This is a perfect easy overnighter for the family, or a place to test backpacking gear for later trips in the big mountains. I prefer the cooler climates of spring and fall for foothills hikes like this one, but it's fun year-round.
If you follow the tracks I have created, you will start at the main parking lot and take the Sawmill trail south to the intersection with Belcher Hill Trail. Stay on Sawmill as it curves west and shortly you will come to the backpacker's campground. Continue west from the campground, then travel north on the Mustang trail and Belcher Hill trails. You will cross the main road at the small side parking lot and continue along the north side of the road until you intersect with Rawhide Trail. Then simply take the Rawhide trail southeast a short distance to arrive back at the main parking lot. Total distance is approximately 3 miles.
The Sawmill Backpacker Campground is really excellent for super-easy backpacking overnighters. This campground and the Sourdough Campground on the Rawhide trail are the best developed backcountry campsites I have ever seen, a great easy overnight hike for families. The camp has sites with picnic tables, firepits with grill tops, seasonal well water, a vault toilet, firewood, garbage cans, and bearproof storage.
For backpacking, you need a free overnight pass which is available at the trailhead. Just follow the instructions on the backpacking kiosk at the trailhead. The drop slot for the permit is a little tricky to find, just look behind the stack of permits and sure enough there is a slot back there.
Download the tracks and waypoints:
If you are not quite sure how to get the routes and waypoints to open correctly, read the FAQ on the subject for help: Downloading Routes And Waypoints FAQ.
If you want to spend the night, there are some nice hotels in downtown Golden, or stay in Lakewood near the Colorado Mills Mall for less expensive lodging options. You can camp in nearby Golden Gate Canyon State Park at Reverend's Ridge Campground if you don't want to stay at the White Ranch primitive camp sites.