Elevation: 5,120ft - 6,250ft
Elevation Gain: 1,237 ft (cumulative)
Date Hiked: 26 November 2011
Dogs: Off leash in designated area with Boulder green tag
Bathroom at trailhead: Inside NCAR
|The first 0.2 miles of trail is an interpretive trail behind NCAR.|
|The towering 3rd Flatiron from the trail behind NCAR.|
For this day's adventure we decided to start from NCAR because the parking lot is huge, around 1500 employees work there during the week. Other trailheads in the area have room for only 20 cars or so and so fill up by 8am on weekends.
|Heading down the south side of the NCAR Mesa|
|Turn right at this junction and it will connect to the Mesa Trail going north|
|Heading to the gully|
|Crossing the gully. Snow and ice can collect here all winter|
From this point we followed the Mesa Trail through another gully to the junction of the Kohler Mesa Trail at 1.4 miles. It is a short 1 mile across Kohler Mesa to the NOAA trailers and a picnic table on the right. From this vantage you are gazing across the plains. The NOAA complex is just below with the University of Colorado nearby. This day was hazy, but in the fall, all the trees in the city make for a colorful tableau.
|Heading up the north side of the gully|
|Further along the Mesa Trail|
On the return trip we tried something different by descending Kohler Mesa on a short spur trail leading to the Skunk Canyon Trail, which parallels Kohler Mesa at the bottom of Skunk Canyon. Head west on this trail and it will eventually climb back up to the Mesa Trail.
|On the eastern end of Kohler Mesa|
It was fun to do this route again because I used to hike behind NCAR several days a week, it was one of the major benefits of working there. The flatirons are an amazing rock formation and the Mesa Trail parallels them for 6 miles. From that backbone are numerous spur trails sticking out like ribs on a dinosaurs skeleton. This route follows three ribs (the NCAR Trail, Kohler Mesa Trail, and Skunk Canyon Trail) and a span of spine (the Mesa Trail) in an out and back formation. Create your own combo anywhere in the trail system and you are sure to enjoy yourself. One other combo I have blogged is the Homestead/Mesa Loop, which starts at the south Mesa Trail Trailhead.
|The trailers that used to control the NOAA antenna farm.|