Hiking Project Logo

Welcome to Chautauqua

Intermediate
 4.3 (22) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Perhaps the most popular (crowded!) hike in America. And for good reason.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

1.3

Miles

2.2

KM

Loop

6,139' 1,871 m

High

5,703' 1,738 m

Low

436' 133 m

Up

434' 132 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Bring the kids, bring grandma, Chautauqua has something for everyone!

Overview

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

Recommended extensions: Flatirons Loop Trail to the Royal Arch Trail.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Robson

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 22 votes

#566

Overall
  4.3 from 22 votes
5 Star
41%
4 Star
45%
3 Star
14%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#112

in Colorado

#566

Overall
104 Views Last Month
5,711 Since May 5, 2015
Intermediate

11%
0%
79%
0%
11%
0%

Photos

Morning at the Flatirons.
Apr 26, 2015 near Boulder, CO
First snow of the year in the Flatirons.
Sep 22, 2016 near Boulder, CO
This is how you know a run/hike is going to be good, right from the get go. Flatirons from Bluebell Road.
Dec 20, 2014 near Boulder, CO
The Flatirons as seen from Chatauqua Trail.
Dec 20, 2014 near Boulder, CO
Boulder Colorado - Winter Wonderland
Jan 2, 2015 near Boulder, CO
There is a nearly constant stream of people most times of the day on the main Chautauqua Trail
Jun 17, 2015 near Boulder, CO

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 15 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

May 9, 2020
T T
Oct 6, 2019
Ciara Mulvaney
Nice, easy hike with a bit of an incline. A little rockier than expected but all and all a good little hike. 1.8mi
Aug 25, 2019
Sang Lintakoon
hiked up to rocky area and hammocked with kait before coming back down 1.4mi — 1h 30m
Aug 19, 2019
Matthew Cretcher
Jul 21, 2019
Justin Hormel
Jul 10, 2019
Karen Crosby
Jul 7, 2019
Katy K
Jul 2, 2019
Andrew Kaiser
1.3mi