Walker Ranch Loop Trail
December 8, 2002

Walker Ranch is part of Boulder County Parks and Open Space. From Denver, take 36 north to Boulder, exit at Baseline Road, turn left and up about 8 miles into the mountains. The Walker Ranch Loop Trail can be accessed from several points: I began at the South Boulder Creek trailhead which is on the left side of the road, just past the group picnic area.
I was the first to arrive at the trailhead this morning. I began my hike with fleece cap and mittens, but soon put them away. I was comfortable all day long in a light weight fleece sweater. Hard to believe this is December!
The Walker Ranch Loop trail is 7.8 miles long. I went to the left.
Shortly into the hike, I looked back and could see the trail I would take at the end of my hike. Gonna be a steep climb!
Looking down into South Boulder Creek canyon. The trail was almost entirely downhill for three miles. But this is a loop trail, so I know what goes down must go up!
Patches of snow - and ice - on the north facing slopes confirm my decision to stick to lower elevations this late in the year.
This is probably a nice cascade in the summer. Now it's ice.
The trail to Eldorado State Park is just a couple hundred yards north of the bridge over South Boulder Creek. This is a hike I would like to try sometime: Eldorado State Park to the Walker Ranch Loop trail, 7 miles round trip.
The bridge over South Boulder Creek. The creek is beautiful here. These pictures would be much nicer if the sun was higher, but I doubt this canyon gets much sunlight or else there wouldn't be any snow.
South Boulder Creek, looking upstream from the bridge.
South Boulder Creek, looking downstream from the bridge.
South Boulder Creek a short walk up from the bridge.
The creek flows both around and under this enormous boulder.
Your time at the creek is short lived as the trail makes a short but very steep climb out of the canyon.
Once you climb out of the canyon, the trail is very nicely graded. You are gaining elevation but usually at a very comfortable rate.
Spectacular trailside boulder. Photo is less than spectacular.
There are many views towards Boulder from the Crescent Meadows trail such as this one.
Almost to the Crescent Meadows trailhead.
This is a multiple use trail.
I saw about a dozen hikers and about twice that many mountain bikers. No horses today.
Yours truly at Crescent Meadows trailhead. Front Range mountains and Gross Reservoir Dam in the background.
Looking back to the start of my hike from just below Crescent Meadows trailhead. You can see the trail I will climb. But first I have to go down (again) to South Boulder Creek.
One of many nice rock outcroppings.
South Boulder Creek about one mile from Crescent Meadows trailhead.
South Boulder Creek. The trail follows the creek for about a quarter mile before beginning a steep climb to the trailhead. It's about one mile and uphill all the way, but I was pleased with how effortless it seemed.
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Qualls. Last updated December 8, 2002.
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