Walker Ranch Loop, Boulder, CO


Wilderness Seeker
Apr 16, 2016
Let me start by saying the 7.8 mile Walker Ranch Loop is my favorite hike in the Boulder area... and I've literally been on them all. Also, May is the absolute BEST month to hike it, because the high Front Range still has snow, the flowers along the trail are just starting to bloom, the afternoon thunderstorm cycle hasn't kicked in yet, and the weather isn't too hot. So if you'd like to visit Boulder, go in May. :)

The Walker Ranch Loop is directly west of Boulder in a large, entirely open-space (protected state land) area called Walker Ranch. The ranch was an old homestead, and you can see old abandoned buildings and wagons, especially on the nearby Meyers-Homestead trail. Also, the Walker Ranch area was the site of a large fire over 20 years ago, so a few portions go through burn areas (fine by me, because it really opens up the view).

There are 3 main trailheads to access the loop, and one of them is conveniently located 5 minutes from my house!
I chose to do the loop clockwise (if you're biking the loop, go counterclockwise because of a steep stair section).

Old ruins right near the trailhead.
Pine tree up close:
The mountain in the background is the backside of South Boulder Peak, the highest foothill mountain that towers above Boulder. Descending to South Boulder Creek...
Another view of South Boulder Peak. A sliver of Bear Peak is visible in the dead center of the photo.
A man flyfishing in South Boulder Creek. The creek flows out the bottom of the Gross Reservoir, and supplies Denver with much of its water.
The trail follows South Boulder Creek for a peaceful half-mile.
Climbing out of the South Boulder Canyon and into the heart of Walker Ranch. There are fantastic rock outcroppings everywhere.
That is Mount Thorodin in the very background. That peak is the tallest "foothill" peak east of the high Front Range.
Flowers were starting to bloom everywhere. I wasn't able to get decent pictures of the smaller ones, but there are well over a dozen different species along the trail.
A reminder that this area burned not too long ago...
Looking down into Eldorado Canyon (where South Boulder Creek eventually flows to). "Eldo" is one of the greatest rock-climbing and bouldering spots in the US.
Backside of South Boulder Peak again. As you can see, the mountain ridge flows down into Eldorado canyon. Just for reference, the rock face just above and left of the canyon is known as the Rincon Wall, and is 500 feet tall.
A wonderful bench along the trail, dedicated to a lost loved one.
Now at the bottom of the canyon again... it's all uphill from here back to the car. But it's also the most beautiful section.
A bridge over troubled water... :p
It's impossible to capture the narrow section right after the above photo. The canyon is beautiful, and there are some nice places for lunch... Here is the creek upstream from the narrow section.
Now well above the creek, looking back at Eldorado Canyon. I feel so lucky to live here!! I love the Walker Ranch Loop because it offers a different and sometimes more impressive perspective of the famous foothills in Boulder.
Nearly at the my starting trailhead. The Rio Grande train pictured here goes all the way west through the Moffatt Tunnel and under the Continental Divide!
Parting selfie: What a wonderful hike!
Yeah, South Boulder, Eldorado Canyon, and Walker Ranch are easily the most scenic places around, in my opinion. Maybe you should do some more exploring up there!
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