South Boulder Creek - Big Bluestem Loop, South Boulder Creek Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
South Boulder Creek - Big Bluestem Loop - 4.35 miles
South Boulder Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||4.35 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,485' - 5,485' (5,912' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+427' net elevation gain (+455' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The South Boulder Creek, Mesa and Big Bluestem trails form a mild loop through open space between the eastern plains and Boulder foothills. Visitors will enjoy rangy panoramas of the Flatirons, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak and Eldorado Mountain complex. Multiple trail connections and extensions offer additional routing options of varying length and difficulty along or up into the foothills.
The South Boulder Creek Trail heads southwest on a wide groomed path until bending west, narrowing and rising more assertively on rocky single track (.85 miles : 5,540'). Clusters of pinyon join cattail, cacti, yucca and the eponymous bluestem as you near the foothills and Mesa Trail connection (1.85 miles : 5,803'). Bear right on the Mesa and quickly off onto the Big Bluestem Trail (2.1 miles : 5,912'), which undulates north to the base of a steep mesa and splits into upper and lower segments. Bear right on the Lower Big Bluestem Trail (2.25 miles : 5,915').
The Lower Big Bluestem skirts the mesa base, curls northeast and glides gently back down through vast open space. Continue past an unmarked spur - the Shanahan Ridge Connector (2.9 miles : 5,685') - and pass through a final gate (4.0 miles : 5,520'), where the trail becomes a residential street leading to the north side of the South Boulder Creek Trailhead parking lot (4.35 miles).
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N39 57.597 W105 14.230 — South Boulder Creek Trailhead
- N39 57.009 W105 14.907 — 1.0 miles : Southwest travel through open space
- N39 56.721 W105 15.798 — 1.85 miles : South Boulder Creek - Mesa Trail junction
- N39 56.840 W105 15.963 — 2.1 miles : Mesa Trail - Big Bluestem Trail junction
- N39 56.913 W105 16.029 — 2.25 miles : Upper - Lower Big Bluestem Trail junction
- N39 57.303 W105 15.614 — 2.9 miles : Shanahan Ridge connector trail junction
- N39 57.597 W105 14.230 — 4.35 miles : South Boulder Creek Trailhead
- The loop passes through private ranchlands and numerous cattle gates. Respect property lines and remember to close and lock gates behind you.
- Rattlesnakes inhabit this area. Mind your footing and stay on designated trails at all times.
- The loop's mild grades and good trail conditions are well-suited for trail runners and families.
- Fishing is permitted along South Boulder Creek near the South Mesa Trailhead. A valid Colorado state fishing license is required.
Rules and Regulations
- Bikes are not permitted on the South Boulder Creek, Mesa or Big Bluestem trails.
- Dogs must be on a hand held leash unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times May 15 - July 15 to protect nesting ground birds and free range cattle.
- Horses are permitted but must remain on trails.
Directions to Trailhead
The South Boulder Creek Trailhead is located on Highway 93 in south Boulder. The trailhead is located 2.0 miles south of the Highway 93 - Table Mesa Drive intersection on the west side of the road.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks