W0C/SR-052 Thorodin Mountain 3206 M / 10540 Ft
Sep 14, 2013 – First Activation
Thorodin Mountain is a very prominent peak located in Golden Gate State Park, west of Golden, Colorado. The summit is conveniently located north of Gap Road. To reach the de-facto trailhead, follow Gap Road (good quality unpaved 2WD) about ½ mile east from Panorama Point; find a marked parking spot on the south side of the road. A fee and pass are required to park and hike in the State Park.
For this trip you need a topo map, a compass, and good navigation skills. A GPS device is helpful. The hike is moderately strenuous, but it’s only about 1.3 miles to the summit.
There is no designated trail to the top of Thorodin Mountain. On the USGS topo map, the route appears to be an off-trail bushwhack trip ascending about 1100 vertical feet. However, there’s an old abandoned logging road leading up to a route marked with cairns that leads right to the top. From the parking spot, walk north across Gap Road, hike west about 500 feet to the highest spot along Gap road (elevation 9440 feet), and then head north into the woods. You may find a short section of new trail – head north on this trail for a short distance, but veer right and head northeast, about 100 feet before that trail starts to head northwest and down. Soon you’ll intersect the old logging road shown on the USGS 7.5 minute Tungsten quadrangle map. Climb northeast on this unmarked, un-maintained trail. Where the old road heads east, resist the temptation to leave the road; instead stay on the road until it ends at about 9840 feet.
Near the end of the old road, you should find a cairn marking the start of the cairned route up to the summit. Simply follow the numerous cairns up the logical route that follows the broad steep valley up the south side of Thorodin. There is one section where the enthusiastic cairn-builders marked the route up through a slope of large boulders – you may choose to stay slightly east of the cairns on an easier route up the slope until you get past the boulders – then follow the cairns up from there.
Thorodin has several summits. The one marked on the SOTA maps is the southwest summit, marked 10540 on the USGS quad. The middle peak is shown as the summit on Google maps, but that’s not what SOTA or USGS mark as the summit. The northeast summit is called Starr Peak, shown at 10511 on the USGS map, and even though it may appear higher, it’s not the SOTA summit. There is a radio facility on Starr Peak, and legal access over there is doubtful.
The view from prominent Thorodin is awesome. You can see many high Front Range peaks, the area around Central City and Rollinsville, Tremont Mountain to the south, and far out over the Plains.
Thorodin is a superb radio site and SOTA peak! There are small trees along the extended summit ridge, and if you bring an antenna pole, you can just stick it in a tree. Even with no pole, the summit trees are sufficient to support a wire 8-10 feet above the granite ridge-top. There are larger trees close by. I used a 66 foot end-fed wire supported by a Black Widow pole at 18 feet above the ridge, with the west end tied to a tree. I got 25 contacts on 20M CW, plus one on 40M, before I had to shut down because of lightning nearby. The peak has nice coverage of most of the Denver area, and I made good local contacts as far away as Fountain, south of Colorado Springs, as well as short and long skip Q’s on 20M. This is surely a great VHF/UHF peak!
Needless to say, Thorodin should be avoided if there is any threat of lightning. It was mostly nice while I was there, but it may be very windy often. There are sheltered spots near the summit ridge with some protection from the wind. With the good road access and route up the south side, winter activation may be practical at times.
If you’re strong and the weather is good, you could activate both Tremont and Thorodin in one big day from the same parking spot, for a 10 point day.
Because of its easy access from the metro area and great prominence, Thorodin deserves your attention if you want to activate local summits or operate portable radios. If you have lightweight equipment and can hike directly up a mountain without a switch-backed trail, Thorodin will delight you – this is a SOTA classic!
George Carey Fuller
!! WARNING !! There are old mountaineers, and bold mountaineers... there are no old-bold mountaineers. Hiking and mountain climbing are potentially hazardous activities particularly in Colorado with its extreme elevations. I am not accepting responsibility for any death or injury resulting from activations based on my trip reports. Proper training, experience, and personal capability assessment is required - enjoy!