OverviewMount Thorodin may offer some of the most challenging hiking and climbing in the area around Colorado's Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Located in east-central Gilpin County and with almost 1,500 feet of prominence, the 10,540 foot mountain can be easily seen from most directions. On the west side, three huge granite buttresses give Thorodin a very distinctive appearance. The 200 foot rock faces provide some intriguing possibilities for technical climbs. From the top of the mountain one can see clear views of Longs Peak and Indian Peaks to the north, James Peak and the continental divide to the west, Tremont Mountain to the south, and to the east the back side of Boulder's mountain parks. Thorodin reflects the topography of eastern Gilpin County, which is characterized by high rolling saddles and steeply eroded canyons. Precambrian rock covers most the area, and consists mainly of quartz and gneiss.
According to local legend, early settlers were undecided on whether to call the mountain "Thor" or "Odin", so Thorodin became the compromise name. Not much remains on the mountain from early days, but there is an old shack in a small meadow near the summit. Occasionally, hikers will find traces of old trails or logging roads. There is a Thorodin webcam that works sometimes. It is located at: LazyZ.org. Thorodin is also the site for a 145.310 MHZ repeater station, located near the summit.
Close nearby, to the north, is 10,511 foot Starr Peak, where a fire lookout tower was built in 1941. That tower was removed from service in 1976. Tremont Mountain, at 10,388 feet, is just to the south in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The trail up Tremont to Panorama Point provides some great views of Thorodin to the northeast.
Plants and WildlifeFor many hikers and climbers, the chance to view plants and wildlife along the way adds great depth to their outdoor experience. Thorodin's forest is part of the Roosevelt National Forest, and consists of ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Englemann spruce, Douglas fir, Colorado blue spruce, limber pine, conifer, and aspen. Other plants commonly found include antelope bitterbrush, kinnikinnick, Rocky Mountain juniper, Oregon grape, wax currant, big sage, common juniper, blueberry, Woods' rose, snowberry, serviceberry, nodding brome, western wheatgrass, pine dropseed, goldaster, blue grama, lupine, and beardtongue.
Larger wildlife often seen in these forests include mule deer, elk, black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes. Common smaller animals include bobcats, raccoons, striped skunks, porcupines, snowshoe hare, cottontail rabbits, muskrats, squirrels, and red fox. Birds commonly seen include Blue Grouse, Ptarmigan, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Stellar's Jay, Gray Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Rosy Finches, Turkey Vultures, Mountain Bluebirds, Ravens, Common Nighthawks, American Kestrel, and Red Tailed hawks.
While there are several routes to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, the best may be from highway 119. From the Denver area, you can travel west on highway 6, until you get to the 119 turnoff. About 11 miles further on 119, you will come to Gap Road. Turn right and follow Gap Road to the Reverends Ridge area. The shortest distance from Gap Road to the summit would be from somewhere near midway between Mountain Base Road and Aspen Meadows Campground Road. When you find a suitable place to park in that area, you can begin your hike.
It is highly advisable to get a good topo map and a compass or GPS to plan your ascent to the summit. The USGS Tungsten Quadrangle Map is a great asset. You can get one from the Boulder Ranger District, which manages this part of the national forest. If you ascend from the south, aiming for just behind the buttresses, you will be just up from a draw in a thinly-forested area. If you keep to your bearings, it should not take too long to reach the summit. The view from the top is great, and all the rock on the west sides of the buttresses offer great potential for more fun.
Red TapeYou will need either a daily ($6) or annual fee at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
SafetyOn June 10, 1972, a climber was killed by lightning, while attempting to rappel down the west face of Thorodin. His partner was injured by the lightning strike. While Thorodin is not a major peak in the Rockies, dangers still exist in the form of falls, wildlife, dehydration, freezing temperatures, lightning, and other hazards that are common for hikers and climbers. Please plan your trip carefully, and take wise precautions.
Camping Resources and Information LinksGolden Gate Canyon State Park offers not only great campsites, but also has cabins and yurts. Roosevelt National Forest has a number of campgrounds. If you prefer lodging, many nearby communities have facilities. The list below should be of some help:
Golden Gate Canyon State Park (303) 582-3707
Roosevelt National Forest Campgrounds
Boulder Ranger District Office (303) 541-2500