Trail Length: 3.3 miles round trip loop
Trailhead Elevation: 5,925’
Trailhead Location: 0.3 mile south of Highway 128 on Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder, Colorado.
Lisa and I wanted to get and enjoy the nice weather on Saturday. The forecast was for temperatures near 60 degrees so we figured we shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to get outside for a hike. We wanted to go someplace relatively close to home since we were getting a late start. We also wanted to stay at a lower elevation to enjoy the warm temperatures. After looking through choices in the area, I decided on the Flatirons Vista trail – a trail we have never hiked before despite its close proximity to home. We’ve passed the trailhead many times before on the drive between Golden and Boulder. I guess I always thought the trail looked boring as you can see it heading off west across the open prairie. I generally like trails more in the pines. However, I am always excited about checking out a new trail and it was time to finally check this one out.
We headed up Hwy. 93 towards Boulder. The car thermometer read 60 degrees. I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt and was thinking I should have worn a short-sleeved one, expecting a nice, warm hike. We pulled into the parking lot a little after 2:00pm and discovered that the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks own this park and they charge a $5 parking fee if your car is not registered in Boulder County. I always hate to pay to park at a trailhead. When we opened the car doors to get out, we realized it was quite windy, and a cold wind at that. Even though the thermometer read 60, we knew it wasn’t that warm with the wind! I checked back at yesterday’s weather conditions and it shows the winds were around 20mph during the time we were hiking!
After paying for our parking, we headed up the North Flatirons Vista trail around 2:20pm. The trail climbs about 140 feet in the first half mile. You have great views to the northwest across the meadows to the Flatirons. The Flatiron mountains are ubiquitous symbols of the city of Boulder. There are five large, numbered Flatirons ranging from north to south (First through Fifth, respectively) along the east slope of Green Mountain as well as numerous additional named Flatirons on the southern part of Green Mountain. The Flatirons were named by pioneer women after the flat, metal irons used to press their clothes.
As we continued on up the trail in the strong wind, we had a view west up through Doudy Draw with a window through Eldorado Canyon to the snow-covered Indian Peaks.
A little before 3:00pm we came to a trail split 1.2 miles from the trailhead. The Dowdy Draw Trail continues to the west and The North Flatirons Vista loop continues to the south. We continued on the loop trail. Here the trail heads into a more forested area and we were able to get out of the wind for a more peaceful and quieter hike.
A close-up capture of some of the snow crystals in the grass.
More views of the Flatirons through the trees.
The only “wildlife” we spotted on the trail today.
A look back down the trail to the west.
Some fun with our shadows in the late afternoon sun.
At about 2.5 miles, we came to the cutoff for the Prairie View trail. This trail can be taken to shorten the loop but we continued on the Flatirons Vista South trail, getting back to the car around 4:10pm.
We want to come back and explore the other trails in the area including the Dowdy Draw Trail, Spring Brook Loop Trail, Fowler Trail, and Goshawk Ridge Trail, perhaps on a less windy day!
A couple of shots from the car as we were heading back down towards Golden along Highway 93 in the late afternoon sun.