Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Betasso Preserve: Canyon Loop Trail

Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 6,516 ft
Elevation Gain: 460 ft with some ups and downs
Dogs: Leash Only

There are many views of Front Range hills from the Canyon Loop Trail.

Betasso preserve is a Boulder County open space a short distance up the canyon to Nederland. It is a pleasant shoulder season walk across hills covered in Ponderosa Pine. Taking the loop counter clockwise is easier and is recommended on the days when mountain bikers are allowed on the trail. The bikers much take the trail counter-clockwise and are NOT allowed on the trail on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you can, hike on these days, your experience will be much more pleasant. While technically bikes are supposed to yield to pedestrians, this never happens.

The parking and picnic area are near a wide-open meadow. There are bathrooms.

The trail is packed dirt with fewer rocks than other trails in Colorado.

I really do appreciate all of the open space that Boulder City and Boulder County have set aside for our use. I am frustrated that all of Boulder County open space requires dogs to be on leash. I own a German Short-haired Pointer who can out run the best Marathoner and still beg for more. Even a 10-mile walk on leash is not doing my dog any good.

The trail weaves in and out of stands of Ponderosa Pine.

When we decided to go to Betasso, I looked on the web site and it said that dogs were allowed. It made no mention of leash laws. It was not until we drove out there that we discovered our mistake. We might have broken the rules had a Ranger not shown up to hike the trail just as we were setting out. That is how I learned the general rule about dogs in Boulder County. I did mention that the web site needed correcting, but I just checked and it has not been updated.

If you take the loop clockwise, the route will be down most of the way.

If you have small dogs, no dogs, and want a close in walk that is in the trees, then Betasso Preserve might just be ideal. It is very pleasant, would be a great but short trail run, and is one of the few options available in the depths of winter.

Another typical trail segment. On the clockwise route, it is only towards the end that one regains lost elevation. For a more strenusous walk travel the opposite direction. Don't do this on days that bikers are present however. You won't see what hit you!


Linda said...

That must be frustrating about not letting your dog have a good run. Is there livestock, or breeding birds that the authorities want to protect? Here we have the Scottish Access Code, which basically says that you must keep your dog on a short lead or under close control in fields where there are animals and in the bird breeding season from April to July, never taking it into fields where there are calves or lambs, never let it worry or attack livestock, and picking up and pick up and remove any faeces that your dog leaves.

sylvia murphy said...

Hi Linda,

Many trails in our area are just considered off limits. There are those that say dog poop brings in non-native plants. Others want to protect the squirrels and deer. Others want to protect people. It is all crazy in my mind. I can see designating some trails but not all. Many of the "protected" trails allow bikers, which are also very disruptive to wildlife.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have a very negative idea of mountain bikers. You mention that a biker never yields to pedestrians. I am sorry this has been your experience. I have never seen a biker not yield to a pedestrian. Often, once the biker has slowed and moved over, the pedestrian ahead will step off trail, yielding way. Anyway, you mention, that the bikers are very disruptive to wildlife. I'm wondering what are your sources? Do you have information stating that bikers are more disruptive than hikers? You seem to enjoy your open space in this state. Mountain bikers are a very vocal and active group in maintaining open space access. Keep this in mind.

sylvia murphy said...

Hi Anonymous,
I don't hate mountain bikers but I have had many negative experiences sharing the trail with them. I have had to leap off the the Bitterbrush Trail for instance. On the Mathews Winters Trail, there is not much room for bikes and humans to pass.

I think a great way to share the area is to designate biker only and hiker only days. It just makes life easier. From your perspective, you see polite bikers all the time. From my experience, it seems to be more rare.

My comment about wildlife was more to point out that prohibiting dogs on a trail while allowing mountain bikers seems nonsensical to me.

Anonymous said...

I think the point she is trying to make is that dogs don't do anything to the environment and neither do good dogs. It doesn't sound like bikers are an issue, just as much of an issue as dogs. If you have good dogs, they do nothing adverse to anyone or anything. Same goes for good bikers.

Anonymous said...

I love dogs, I love Mtn Biking...I try to always be polite to people on the trails, we all have to get along and not ruin it for each other. Some trails in the front range do get to be zoo's on weekends that's for sure...and puppies do wander right in front of my wheel on occasion. I haven't gone down from it because I always slow way down or stop for people, horses, and heck fellow bikers if there climbing. (unwritten rule of the trail, he who is coming uphill has right of way...downhillers are always suppose to stop, or at least yield to uphillers) I see a lot of horses to, which I am particularly fond of. I always slow way down for them and kind of try and read the horses mood and behavior as you get close....If you see their prancy..then talk out lot soothingly and ride very slow...if they pay no attention and are off the trail still talk so they know you are there and ride smoothly by. I put a lot of thought into how to deal with "people" on the trails and try and always be a model citizen. Some of the young kids are not as schooled in the ways, but we were all young and dumb at one point...They'll learn if we yell at them enough :) Namaste!