The Mesa Trail is a classic out and back trail run totaling 13.4 miles. The trail is also popular with hikers with or without leashed dogs and people on horseback. You can begin your run from either the Chautauqua Park trailhead or from Eldorado Canyon at the South Mesa Trailhead. When starting from Eldo, the first miles are exposed with no shade. The rest of the route into Chautauqua is shaded by pines and other trees. The trail has sections with railroad ties and rocks. Roundtrip there is a total of 3,250 feet plus of total elevation gain.
What Makes It Great
The south end of trail offers wide open views of the Flatirons and the prairies to the east. Most of the trail skirts the base of the Flatirons, winding through pine forests festooned with boulders, roots and streams. The rolling elevation along a well-defined trail makes this a perfect trail runner's path. It's also shady for most of the way in the summer, a boon on scorching Boulder afternoons.
Who is Going to Love It
Trail runners who want to get a solid workout but want to stay on well defined trails will love the Mesa Trail. It doesn't take long to get away from weekend crowds, especially the section from South Mesa to NCAR's access trails.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking in the South is access from South Mesa Trailhead, 1.7 miles west of Highway 93 on Eldorado Springs Drive (Highway 170). If starting from the north, Gregory Canyon, take Baseline Road west from Baseline and 93 a little over a mile to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead access road. The turnoff is west of the Chautauqua Meadow and east of where Baseline Road becomes Flagstaff Mountain Road and goes up Flagstaff Mountain. If you start climbing up the paved road, you've gone too far!