Mallory Cave, Chautauqua Park Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Mallory Cave - 5.4 miles
Chautauqua Park Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.4 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,710' - 6,825' (6,825' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,115' net elevation gain (+1,285' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Note: Mallory Cave is closed until further notice. The trail remains open, however, the cave itself is not open to the public. The closure stems from an epidemic of white-nosed syndrome, a fungal disease that has destroyed bat populations across the country. The U.S. Forest Service closed all caves on National Grassland and Forest properties across several states in an attempt to limit the potential for spread in the Western region. Because the disease is primarily found in human-accessible recreational caves, people are thought to be the main cause of spreading.
The access trail to Mallory Cave can be reached from either the Walter Orr Roberts Trail at NCAR, or the Mesa Trail beginning in Chautauqua Park. The former is short and direct, while the latter is longer but arguably more scenic, passing Boulder's iconic Flatirons and more varied terrain en route to the Mallory Cave split.
The following describes the Chautauqua Park - Mesa Trail - Mallory Cave Trail route:
From Chautauqua Park, head south on Blue Bell Road to its formal connection with the Mesa Trail (.6 miles : 6,010). Bear left and begin a winding, moderate climb through mixed pine that levels off just beyond the Kohler Mesa Trail junction (1.15 miles : 6,250'). The Mesa Trail continues mildly for some time, skirting the forest edge with good views of the eastern plains.
It rolls gently through sparse forest and open space past the Skunk Canyon Trail junction to a steep, twisting descent on reinforced mud-stairs (1.85 miles). Once down the trail rises gradually through a spacious meadow with good views of Bear Peak to the Mallory Cave Trail junction (2.05 miles : 6,207'). Bear right.
The grade steepens hastily on a rocky climb up the heavily wooded north flank of Dinosaur Mountain. You'll come to a helpful trail marker in 2.5 miles (6,490'), beyond which the course tightens along sparingly defined switchbacks that thread dense pine stands and large rock formations.
You'll pass successive spurs for Der Zerkle Climbing access (2.55 miles), squeeze through a slot between two boulders (2.6 miles ) and skip by the Upper Dinosaur Mountain climbing access spur (2.65 miles) to the vertical rock base of Mallory Cave (2.7 miles : 6,810').
Here interpretive signs discuss the life cycles and migratory patterns of Townsend's Big Eared and Fringed Myotis bats, which rely on this cave and surrounding rock crevices for protection of their maternity colonies.
The rock face must be scaled to see and enter the cave. Confident climbers and scramblers will have little trouble with this knobby 30' wall, but those unfit may opt for additional aid. Snow and ice can present serious challenges for any skill level; exercise patience and good judgment before embarking on the entry climb.
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — Chautauqua Park Trailhead
- N39 59.496 W105 17.119 — .6 miles : Bluebell Road - Mesa Trail junction
- N39 59.126 W105 17.157 — 1.15 miles : Mesa Trail - Kohler Mesa Trail junction
- N39 58.677 W105 17.055 — 2.05 miles : Mesa Trail - Mallory Cave Trail junction
- N39 58.421 W105 17.236 — 2.5 miles : Mallory Cave Trail sign
- N39 58.455 W105 17.354 — 2.65 miles : Base of Mallory Cave
- Mallory Cave is closed April 1st - October 1st every year, unless otherwise posted by the City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks Division. During this time you may hike to its base, but not scale the rock wall leading into the cave.
- Honor seasonal closures and do not disturb roosting bat colonies. Entering Mallory Cave when closed is punishable with fines and/or jail time.
- The Townsends's Big Eared Bat maternity colony on Open Space and Mountain Parks Property is one of only seven known colonies in the state of Colorado.
- Parking is limited at the Chautauqua Park Trailhead and spaces fill up quickly. Street parking restrictions are enforced.
Directions to Trailhead
Take Baseline Road 1 mile west to the Chautauqua Park entrance on the left hand side.
Take Highway 36 into Boulder and exit on Baseline Road. Turn left. Take Baseline Road to the Chautauqua Park entrance on your left.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks