Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Monday, January 21, 2013

Marshall Mesa, Boulder OSMP

Marshall Mesa

City of Boulder OSMP

Date Hiked: Jan 21, 2013

Distance: 3.4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 250ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,503 to 5,758ft
Managing Agency: City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Fee: None

Marshall Mesa Trail Map (Boulder OSMP)
Marshall Mesa Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions: From Denver or Boulder take Hwy 93 to the four way intersection of Hwy 93, Eldorado Springs Drive, and Marshall Road (170). The parking area and trailhead is on Marshall Road just east of the intersection.

Marshall Mesa is a popular area for hikers, mountain bikers, and families enjoying the outdoors. The trails are relatively easy, there are many options for length, and there are nice views of the Boulder Foothills. From the parking area, head east on the Marshall Valley Trail for .8 miles. When you reach the intersection stay straight for another .3 miles as you veer south and climb up towards Marshall Lake. You can also take the Marshall Mesa Trail back to the west, which makes the hike a bit shorter.

When you get to the intersection of the Marshall Valley, Cowdrey Draw, and Community Ditch trails, turn right and follow the Community Ditch Trail to the west.  You can make a short diversion here for a nice view of Marshall Lake, but you are not allowed to pass the fencing as the lake is off limits.  Continue on the Community Ditch Trail for 1 mile to an intersection and bear right staying on the Community Ditch Trail for another .4 miles.  The Community Ditch Trail provides nice views to the west and in the spring and early summer the ditch can seem like a peacefully flowing river.  When you reach the Coal Seem Trail turn right and descend through rolling terrain and through patches of cottonwood trees back to the Trailhead.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chautauqua > Bluebell Mesa Loop, Boulder Mountain Park

Chautauqua > Bluebell Mesa Loop
Boulder Mountain Park

Date Hiked: January 13, 2013

Distance: 1.5 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 500ft

Elevation Min/Max: 5,642 to 6,184ft

Chautauqua Trailhead Trail Map (OSMP)
Chautauqua > Bluebell Mesa Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Boulder take Baseline Road west to Chautauqua.  Park here near the trailhead.

I intended for this hike to be a much longer loop, however, it was literally -7 degrees this chilly January Morning.  After hiking for 30 minutes or so, I couldn't take it anymore and used the Bluebell Mesa Trail as a shortcut back to the trailhead.  However, this loop turned into a wonderful short winter hike.  I would suggest this route to anyone who is hiking with kids, or just looking for a short but steep jaunt onto the Flatirons.

From Chautauqua head south on the Chautauqua Trail and stay striaght at the first trail junction.  Continue to climb up to the top of Bluebell Mesa.  Turn left on the Bluebell Mesa Trail and follow the short but steep trail back to the first trail junction.  From here follow the Chautauqua Trail back to the Trailhead.  Of course, the options are limitless in this area.  You can make a hike as short or as long as you wish.

Mower Reservoir, Westminster Hills Open Space

Mower Reservoir
Westminster Hills Open Space

Date Hiked: Jan 13, 2013

Distance: Loop = 2.2 mi (RT) 3.5 mi (RT) full hike to Mower Reservoir
Elevation Gain: 300ft
Elevation: 5,486
Managing Agency: City of Westminster Parks and Recreation
Fee: None

Westminster Hills Website & Map (Westminster)
Mower Reservoir Trail Map (Google Maps) - only 1st loop is mapped

Directions:  From I70 take Wadsworth Blvd north and turn left on 100th Ave.  Turn right on Simms Street and turn left into the Westminster Hills Parking Area and trailhead.

Westiminster Hills Open Space is a mixed bag of an open space park.  I’ve hiked here a few times and have both loved it and loathed it.  In uncomfortable weather, the park is a harsh brutal place.  In OK weather, the hike can feel monotonous and boring.  In springtime it can be a wildflower wonderland.  That being said, there are beautiful views of the Front Range Peaks, including Longs Peak.

The first portion of the park (1 mi from the trailhead) is mainly a dog park.  If you don’t like off leash dogs, don’t come here.  I happen to love dogs and I get a real kick out of seeing them running across the prairie.  However, with the dogs come lots of people and the hike does not feel like much of a hike for the first mile.  After the loop however, the trail stretches out, the dogs and people go away, and it feels much more remote. By the time you get to Mower Reservoir (almost 2 miles out) you’ll feel like you’re in a prairie wilderness area.  To get to Mower Reservoir, at the end of the loop, stay straight, pass through a gate and continue on the trail alongside a fence.  Pass through another gate, but keep on going, once the trail starts to curve around to the south, you are nearing the reservoir.  The reservoir (which may or may not have water) is surrounded by cottonwoods and has a wildlife viewing platform on the west side.  A short loop encircles the lake and you return via the same trail.

Photos from June 2011