“Perhaps the most popular (crowded!) hike in America. And for good reason.”
— Tom Robson
Views · Wildflowers
Bring the kids, bring grandma, Chautauqua has something for everyone!
Enjoy flowers and prairie grasses as well as magnificent views on this awesome hike. At Bluebell-Baird Trail
, you'll head through ponderosa pine and perhaps enjoy a nice picnic on the way!
This is clearly one of the best "bang for your buck" hikes in Boulder. As such, it's always incredibly crowded.
Need to Know
From the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage head west on Chautauqua Trail
as it ascends towards the flatirons. Try to peel your eyes away from these awe-inspiring geologic formations enough to watch your step. Stay left on Chautauqua Trail
as it continues its wide and mostly smooth journey above Boulder. As you gain elevation, take a look back to the east and admire the city from above.
After a short stint in ponderosa pine forest, turn right onto Bluebell-Baird Trail
. This trail drops at a mellow grade through the forest to Ski Jump Trail
. Although you're just a stone's throw away from Boulder, Bluebell-Baird Trail
gives a nicely forested respite from the hubbub of the city.
To finish the loop, turn right onto Ski Jump Trail
. Chautauqua was once home to the bustling Mesa Ski area off and on from 1949 to 1963. It had one tow operated by an engine from a World War II Dodge truck and several ski jumps. The ski area struggled with lack of snow and vandalism, and closed for good in 1963.
From the end of Ski Jump Trail
, head back onto Chautauqua Trail
and take it back to the Ranger Cottage and your car!
Flora & Fauna
Black bears and mountain lions inhabit this area. Many other wildlife species are common including birds of prey, mule deer and coyotes. You'll also enjoy the abundant wildflowers, prairie grasses, and ponderosa pine along this route.
History & Background
The City of Boulder began preserving wild lands over 100 years ago! In 1898, Boulder citizens approved a bond issue to purchase 80 acres of land to be used as a "Chautauqua." Over the next 22 years, Flagstaff Mountain, Bear Mountain, Royal Arch
, and Green Mountain were added to the early protected land system. Chautauqua Dining Hall and Auditorium was built in 1898. Chautauqua Ranger Cottage was built in 1987.