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North Boundary Trail

Difficult
 3.3 (4)

This seldom used trail offers solitude, wildlife and a good workout as it crosses three major hills.


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Map Key

5.9

Miles

9.5

KM

Point to Point

9,721' 2,963 m

High

7,861' 2,396 m

Low

2,555' 779 m

Up

1,163' 354 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

42%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Wildlife

Description

The strenuous North Boundary Trail starts from the Cow Creek Trail in the northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park and reaches the North Fork Trail intersection along the North Fork Big Thompson River. This is an isolated journey with significant changes in elevation, so be prepared.

From the Cow Creek trailhead, head west briefly on the Cow Creek Trail through McGraw Ranch to the North Boundary Trail split. Turn right (north) and hike the North Boundary Trail as it rises steadily through a ponderosa forest, joining aspen and spruce as you ascend. Well-spaced trees provide good sight lines for wildlife in this area. Travel steepens considerably through a narrow gulch topped by large granite domes to a dividing ridge between the Cow Creek and West Creek drainages.

Enjoy north-south views before descending steep, tight switchbacks that ease near the valley floor. Next, the trail crosses West Creek and follows it to the intersection with West Creek Falls Trail. If time permits, this is a worthwhile detour. Here, the North Boundary Trail bends north and climbs up from the creek, leveling through an open rocky area with good views of the Mummy Range. The trail contours around a second major hilltop and quickly descends across a small stream and Fox Creek. Then turn uphill and begin the third and most taxing climb, surmounting nearly 1,300 feet in just 1.5 miles. Reach a narrow crest - the trail's highest point - and cover level ground that affords commanding views of the valley below.

The North Boundary Trail drops gradually through mixed pine and crosses an unnamed creek to the Silvanmere Backcountry Campsite, past which the trail ambles over mellow terrain to the North Fork of Big Thompson River and its terminus at the North Fork Trail intersection.

Note: parts of the North Boundary Trail pass through the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area where hunting is allowed. Stay on designated trails and wear bright clothing during the hunting season.

Flora & Fauna

Ponderosa, aspen, spruce, lodgepole, fir.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 4 votes

#22349

Overall
  3.3 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#1,896

in Colorado

#22,349

Overall
9 Views Last Month
1,836 Since Jul 13, 2015
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Photos

Views of the Mummy Range (photo by Jim Westfall)
Jul 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Clematis growing along the North Boundary Trail
Jul 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO

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Check-Ins

Oct 26, 2019
Jake Westover
Jul 5, 2017
Greg Benolken
West Falls Creek 3.8mi