Walker Ranch - Trail Running

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Summary

Walker Ranch is a 7.8 mile trail running loop a few miles beyond Flagstaff summit. With 1,624 ft . elevation gain, technical twists and obstacles including a rugged staircase, coupled with gorgeous views across Crescent Meadows, this loop is a favorite among trail runners in the Boulder area.

Written by

Valerie Goren

Distance

7.8 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.4 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

1.5-2 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Walker Ranch was originally a 6,000 acre homestead settled back in 1882. The property was among one of the largest cattle ranges in this region of Colorado. Today, the Walker Ranch loop encompasses a portion of the homestand land, and is infamous due to its historic nature. The trail winds through forest-like dense sheltered areas, in addition to open spaces where you can view the Boulder canyon beneath. The variety and difficulty of this trail presents a majestic beauty enjoyed by all who choose to run it.

What Makes It Great

Walker Ranch is a total of 7.8 miles long. The loop is well marked and will take you through many obstacles, one of which including a rocky staircase leading down to South Boulder Creek. If you prefer running up the staircase, run the loop clockwise. Otherwise, counterclockwise will take you down the staircase.Try the loop in both directions, as they are vastly different from one another and offer their own challenges. If you’re training for a race, or are looking for a long-distance run, try to run this loop twice, with plenty of energy bars and water. Though you will be sore the next day, this trail pays off well and will prep you for your next outdoor adventure.

This trail is open all year round, though it is better to run during the warmer seasons such as late spring, summer, and fall. Because of the trail’s location, its elevation is much higher than the city of Boulder, and often will have drastic changes in temperature. Prepare yourself for a slight chill in the summer, or unexpected winds or precipitation. This trail is possible to run in the winter -- bring along microspikes yak tracks, as there are many rocks that can be covered in a layer of ice.


Who is Going to Love It

Hikers, bikers, and mid-to-advanced runners. Horses are also allowed on the trail, though bikers and hikers are the most common pedestrians, as a majority of the trail is technical and single-track.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To get to the Walker Ranch Trailhead, head west towards the mountains and up Flagstaff (Baseline turns into Flagstaff road). Keep going up the windy road for ~7 miles until you approach Walker Ranch on the left just a couple miles from Gross Reservoir. The loop starts at right at the parking lot, and there are accessible restrooms at the trailhead.

There is no bus route to this trailhead.

Dogs are allowed on this trail, though you must keep them on leashes. Watch out for the bikers coming around the blind turns. Though they are kind enough to stop for you to run by, keeping your dogs close to you will save you both. Additionally, you may spot some deer and squirrels along the path. Please be extra cautious with your dogs by the creek as it can run deceptively fast.

Location

Walker Ranch - Trail Running

Boulder, CO,
39.951519, -105.33713

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