Trail Length: 6.5-mile lollipop loop
Trailhead Elevation: 5,885’
Maximum Elevation: 6,605’
Elevation Change: +720′ net elevation gain
Trailhead Location: Drive 3.5 miles south of Boulder on Highway 93. Turn west on Eldorado Springs Road and travel 2.45 miles to County Road 67 on your left (south). Travel .25 miles to the dead-end at Eldorado Mountain Trailhead.
Taking advantage of the warm weather again last weekend again, Lisa and I decided to get out and explore a new trail. A few weeks ago, we hiked the Flatirons Vista Trail (see separate trip report for this hike at https://linhartphotography.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/flatirons-vista/) near Boulder and discovered there was quite an extensive trail system beyond the loop we had done that day so we decided to go back and explore more of the area. Our friend Janet was able to join us again. We headed out from home a little after 9:00am and headed up towards Eldorado Springs. We arrived at the trailhead a little before 10:00am and got the last available legal parking spot along the road (parking is very limited along the shoulder of the dead end road with only space for only about 8-10 cars and I had read they strictly enforce the parking rules here). We started up the trail a little after 10:00am.
We started up the Fowler Trail with a guy named Robert, a park patroller volunteer who was hiking a section the same loop we were doing. A park patroller’s job is to educate trail users about trail etiquette, rules and regulations, and the natural resources of the park. They also look for any areas of the trail that may need maintenance or upkeep so they may report back to park officials for follow up.
A view across the base of Eldorado Canyon.
After 0.6 miles we came to the trail loop split. We were initially planning to take the loop in a counter-clockwise direction but Robert, our park volunteer, suggested a clockwise direction as he told us the second half of the loop was fairly steep and it would be better to come down that stretch rather than hike up the steepest part. We took a left and continued south on the Spring Brook Look North Trail. To our right was a large wall of Dakota Sandstone. We caught up with Robert again who gave us a little history of the area. He told us the walls of the rippled sandstone were compressed layers of sediment deposited by the ebb and flow of inland oceans that were in this area between 600 and 300 million years ago. The wall actually looked like the sandy beach that once existed millions of years ago.
The distinct layers of sandstone are really evident in this shot.
We continued on up the service road trail.
At 1.4 miles we came to the center of the figure eight trail at the junction of the Spring Brook Loop North, Spring Brook Loop South, and the Goshawk Ridge Trail. At this intersection the Denver Water Board Canal flows through.
The Spring Brook Loop trail intersection.
The trail sign had a “muddy trail meter” indicating today’s trail conditions were Fair meaning they were muddy and wet and that we should travel straight through the puddles and wet spots and not around them. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a sign like this on a trail.
We continued onto the Spring Brook Loop South Trail. The trail headed southeast and then north through a thick forest. We passed the intersection with the Dowdy Draw trail at 2.5 miles into our hike. From here the trail looped back to the west with views of the Front Range rock formations.
A view towards Eldorado Canyon.
The trail continued through open space on a broad mesa before turning back south through dense forest to complete this section of the loop. We arrived back at the Denver Water Board Canal around noon after completing 3.7 miles of our hike.
We continued across the bridge over the canal and onto the Goshawk Ridge Trail. We headed up through the forest a ways and found a large boulder to stop and sit in the sun and take in the views while having lunch. After lunch we continued on up some steeply wound switchbacks to reach the high point of the trail at 6,605’.
The trail as it heads down a steep gully from the crest.
Views looking northwest as we continue down the trail and out into an open meadow. This meadow is suppose to be full of wildflowers in Spring and Summer so we’ll have to come back then to enjoy them!
View to the west towards Eldorado Canyon State Park.
After a total of 5.75 miles hiking, we came to a blasted notch in the road. The lighting and color of the rock here was great.
Looking up the rock wall.
We completed our loop of 6.5 miles and arrived back at the car around 2:15pm.
A map of our figure 8 loop hike.
On the drive up to the trailhead in the morning we had seen some wild turkeys and llamas just ¼ of a mile from the trailhead parking which we wanted to photograph on the way back but as we headed back down the road, they were no longer there. We will have to catch them next time!