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Welcome to Chautauqua

Intermediate
 4.2 (29) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

1.3

Miles

2.2

KM

Lollipop

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

  4.2 from 29 votes

#511

Overall
  4.2 from 29 votes
5 Star
41%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
21%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#109

in Colorado

#511

Overall
73 Views Last Month
7,159 Since May 5, 2015
Intermediate

12%
8%
65%
8%
8%
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
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
The second Flatiron.
Feb 9, 2015 near Boulder, CO

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All Clear 72 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 7, 2022
Marc Z
Jun 28, 2022
Nathaniel Olin
1.3mi — 0h 45m
Mar 24, 2022
Kathleen Lawrence
Beautiful hike for our first day in Boulder! It was an indicator of our great need to get in shape!
Mar 13, 2022
Charly Jackson
Feb 24, 2022
Jody Rae
Jan 18, 2022
Diane Collier
Dec 14, 2021
Annelise Vandiver
Very nice, a little chilly but good 0.6mi
Sep 11, 2021
James Poindexter