Walker Ranch Loop, Eldorado Canyon State Park - Walker Ranch, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Walker Ranch Loop - 7.55 Miles
Eldorado Canyon State Park - Walker Ranch
Walker Ranch Loop
|Round-Trip Length:||7.55 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||7,287' - 7,287' (7,355' max elevation : 6,465' lowest elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||890' net elevation change (+1,737' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Walker Ranch Loop is one of Boulder's most popular multi-use trails, open to hiking, running, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and pets. This 4-season loop is notable for its open rolling hills, interesting rock formations, and diverse wildlife. The Walker Ranch Loop is comprised of 4 distinct trails:
- Columbine Gulch: (1.62 miles)
- Eldorado Canyon: (0.93 miles)
- Crescent Meadows: (2.4 miles)
- S. Boulder Creek: (2.6 miles)
3 main trailheads access the Walker Ranch Loop:
- Crescent Meadows Trailhead
- South Boulder Creek Trailhead
- Ethel Harrold Picnic Area
You can also reach the loop from Eldorado Canyon State Park via the Eldorado Canyon Trail to create a much longer and challenging 13.6 mile route. The following description begins on the Columbine Gulch Trail from the South Boulder Creek Trailhead and travels clockwise:
The rugged trail climbs .85 miles to a 7,300' ridge with commanding views, then drops steeply on a shaded switchbacks to the Eldorado Canyon Trail (1.62 miles : 6,795'). Turn right to continue the loop on what is now a wide fire road (the Ethel Harrold Picnic Area and parking lot is just .25 miles to the left on this road).
The fire road runs up, then down for .93 miles to a seamless but well-marked merge with the Crescent Meadows Trail (2.55 miles : 6,495'). Bear Right and merge onto the Crescent Meadows Trail (bearing left and continuing on the Eldorado Canyon Trail would leave the Walker Ranch Loop and take you into Eldorado Canyon State Park).
The Crescent Meadows Trail bends southwest, crosses South Boulder Creek (6,465'- the Loop's lowest point), and follows a steep, rocky footpath to newly built steps that lead up to a narrow ridge. Bikers will need to dismount and carry up this short section.
Smooth trail conditions and pleasant scenery mark the next 2.2 mile, 700' net climb to the Crescent Meadows Parking Lot and South Boulder Creek Trail connection (4.95 miles : 7,345').
The South Boulder Creek Trail drops steeply for 1.3 miles on winding switchbacks through dense pine to South Boulder Creek (6.25 miles : 6,740'). It crosses over the creek on a wide bridge to its north bank and flattens for several hundred yards beside it. This enjoyable section offers easy access to many good fishing locations and viewing areas along the creek.
Just beyond Walker Ranch Loop's Mile Marker 1 (6.5 miles : 6,740') the trail turns sharply left and begins a strenuous, winding climb back to the South Boulder Creek Trailhead (7.55 miles : 7,287'). This barren and exposed area was struck by fire in 2000. Informational signs describe the event and explain its ecosystem before and after the fire. Despite extensive damage, grasses and wildflowers have reclaimed these hillsides and recovery is well under way.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N39 57.069 W105 20.262 — South Boulder Creek Trailhead
- N39 56.948 W105 19.619 — Trail crests and begins steep descent
- N39 57.158 W105 19.306 — Walker Ranch Loop Mile Marker 6
- N39 57.196 W105 19.219 — Eldorado Canyon Trail junction (turn right)
- N39 56.532 W105 18.913 — Eldorado Canyon Trail - Crescent Meadows Trail junction
- N39 56.404 W105 18.941 — Reach top of stairs - turn right
- N39 56.086 W105 19.403 — Walker Ranch Loop Mile Marker 4
- N39 55.687 W105 19.889 — Walker Ranch Loop Mile Marker 3
- N39 55.849 W105 20.361 — Crescent Meadows Trailhead - S. Boulder Creek Trail junc
- N39 56.141 W105 20.443 — Walker Ranch Mile Marker 2
- N39 56.301 W105 20.492 — Reach South Boulder Creek
- N39 56.579 W105 20.226 — Walker Ranch Loop Mile Marker 1
- N39 57.069 W105 20.262 — South Boulder Creek Trailhead
- Did you know that Ponderosa Pine Trees have fire-resistant bark? Though trees may appear irretrievably damaged, they're actually alive and can recover from most major fires in about 3-5 years.
- The Walker Ranch Loop is favored by local trail runners and mountain bikers; be prepared to share the trail.
- Good fishing and picnic locales can be found along South Boulder Creek.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- This is a day use area only. Camping is not permitted.
- Both bait and fly fishing are permitted along South Boulder Creek. The stream is periodically stocked with rainbow trout. Anglers can access the creek from the South Boulder Creek Trail (beginning at either the Crescent Meadows or South Boulder Creek Trailheads), or from the Eldorado Canyon Trail (beginning at the Ethel Harrold Trailhead off Bison Road). All Colorado state fishing regulations apply.
- Ice fishing is not permitted on any Boulder County Open Space property.
Rules and Regulations
- All pets must be on a leash and under the physical control of its owner or guardian at all times. Any owner-guardian accompanying a dog in an off-leash area must have the ability to restrain their pet when requested by POS staff. Please remember to pick up, carry out and properly dispose of all dog excrement.
- Mountain biking is permitted only on officially designated trails. Bicycle riders must yield the right-of-way to other trail users. Downhill riders must yield to uphill riders.
- Unauthorized motorized vehicles are not permitted beyond parking lots. This includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, minibikes, snowmobiles, four-wheel drives, or any other motorized recreational vehicle.
- Open space is open from sunrise to sunset, unattended vehicles left after dark will be ticketed or towed.
- Hunting and trapping is strictly forbidden. Relocating or releasing animals onto open space property is not allowed.
- Discharging or carrying firearms, crossbows, fireworks, explosives or projectile weapons of any kind is not permitted except as expressly mandated by Article 12 of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, as amended. This includes paintball, BB, pellet, air, paint ball, and blow guns; rockets, crossbows, longbows and slingshots ($300 fine).
- State law prohibits the possession or consumption of any beverage having an alcohol content greater than 3.2% in any public place. Glass containers and bottles are not permitted on open space (outside of an enclosed vehicle).
- Fires are only permitted in grills and fireplaces provided at picnic shelters and picnic areas.
The Walker Ranch Trailhead, also known as the South Boulder Creek Trailhead, is located 7.9 miles west of Chatauqua Park on Flagstaff Road. After passing Chatauqua Park via Baseline Road in Boulder, continue straight onto Flagstaff Road for 7.9 miles to the trailhead on your left. The parking lot is .1 miles from the road.
Eldorado Canyon State Park