A Fall Color e-Hike on Boulder’s South Side

After leaf peeping around Colorado’s high country I returned to one of my favorite places for fall color: Boulder’s South Mesa Trail. Now is the time to go to this magnificent place with your camera and a dog. While there are no aspens here, the sumac are bright crimson and the grasses and shrubs are rusting. Since the impending snow and cold will soon end the visual fireworks I went out to capture some pixels and to take a 3.5 mile virtual tour. Please join me.

To get to the trail head we go 1.7 miles west of Highway 93 (South Broadway) on Eldorado Springs Drive (Highway 170). The GPS coordinates are 39°56’19.56″N  105°15’29.56″W. It’s a spectacular drive as you head west towards Eldorado Canyon and the State Park. The trails are mostly dog friendly and a Boulder Voice and Sight green tag permits your dog to let you off leash in many places. On-leash areas are well marked and should be observed to protect wildlife and not tick off the bears and Rangers. I recommend printing the OSMP Circle Hikes Guide for a map and helpful information about regulations.

 Trail Sign shadowed (6x9)

This trail head area has everything: pit toilets, streamside benches, beaches and picnic areas…

Pit toilet shadowed (6x4)Trail Map shadowed (6x4)Bench shadowed (6x4)

South Boulder Creek shadowed (4x6)

a little ditch for little dogs…

Ditch shadowed(4x6)

and a big creek for big dogs…

Fall South Boulder Vista shadowed (8x4)

The trails from here provide sweeping mountain and prairie vistas as well as a rich cultural landscape.  Click on this link for a Cultural Resources Map  provided by Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department.

Mandy and I started our hike by crossing the bridge over the South Boulder Creek…

Bridge shadowed(4x6)

once over the Creek we  followed the Homestead Trail west past the Dunn House  (at moonset)…

Dunn House shadowed (4x6)

Soon the trail heads north leaving the South Boulder Creek to cross a wide valley where the view west reveals Eldorado Canyon and the southern foothills…

Eldorado View shadowed (8x2)

Climb the steps up the mesa…

Steps (4x6) shadowed

where  forest views give way to spectacular foothill vistas …

Vista South Shadowed (4x6)

Vista West Shadowed (4x6)

Mandy appreciates Boulder’s convenient trailside water bowls…

Dog Bowl shadowed (6x4)

After 1.1 miles we reach the junction of the Towhee and Homestead Trails…

Towhee Homestead sign post shadowed (4x6)

Follow the Towhee Trail  for .2 miles along the creek toward Shadow Canyon… dog guardians will need to leash up for this stretch…

Mandy on Towhee shadowed (4x6)

As we proceed west, the Matron appears at the entrance to Shadow Canyon. This rock is home to raptors and a challenge for climbers (but not at the same time)…

The Matron shadowed (4x6)

We continued west to the Shadow Canyon Trail. You can free your green tagged pooch since this is a Voice and Sight trail …

Mesa Shadow Canyon guide post shadowed (4x6)

Once on this trail I went left (west) about .1 mile to get this photo of the McGilvery Cabin (good location, needs work)…

Cabin shadowed (4x6)

If you continue west on this trail for another .1 mile it leads to a colorful view of  The Matron. I took this at GPS coordinates °56’39.34″N 105°16’59.81″W…

The Matron shadowed (6x8)

The Shadow Canyon Trail west connects to the Mesa Trail at two places before continuing up the Canyon. We turned back east here and reconnected with the Mesa Trail in about .3 miles. This wide and level trail gently descends back down to the South Boulder Creek and South Mesa parking lot…

Lower Mesa shadowed (4x6)

As if providing a visual finale this hike offers spectacular views looking west …

final view shadowed (6x4)

Thanks for the hike!

Mandy in Creek shadowed (6x4)

2 Responses to “A Fall Color e-Hike on Boulder’s South Side”

  1. Boulder Fall Color Fades To White « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] of my favorite Boulder fall hangouts is the South Mesa Trail. Mandy and I went there to capture the last hues before the snow quenches the color… Mandy […]

  2. Sizzling Sumac on the Homestead « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] views of Eldorado Mountain and the South Boulder Creek below. Our hike starts at the South Mesa Trailhead. After a short walk across the South Boulder creek bridge we take the Towhee trail which starts […]

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