Hiking Project Logo

Stunning scenery and a little history...

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






6,123' 1,866 m


5,623' 1,714 m


508' 155 m


507' 154 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Wide trail, gentle slopes.


The South Mesa area offers a wide variety of resources that reflect the history of Boulder County. A fun day hike here will take you to see everything from historic ranches to stone walls to summer retreats.

Note that on the return, taking the Towhee trail is roughly the same distance, not very different, and thus a fine alternative.

Need to Know

There's one theme that keeps popping up in all the oral histories for this area - the people who lived here all remember rattlesnakes!


From the South Mesa trailhead, hike northwest on Mesa Trail. This section is wide and very easy. Continue after crossing South Boulder Creek, looking for Homestead Trail on your left. From the get-go, you'll have wide-open, sweeping views of the South Mesa area.

If you're hiking this trail during Spring, you'll most likely be treated with wildflower views as well as the usual mountain vistas. At the first intersection you encounter, turn left onto Homestead Trail.

Homestead, named for the historic homesteads surrounding this trail, doesn't actually directly encounter any of the historic sites. Although it does allow you access to other trails that do!

Homestead Trail heads due west and contours the hillside. At ~0.65mi, the trail heads directly north and switchbacks four times to gain the ridge. Once on the ridge, Homestead Trail is very straightforward. The last semi-technical aspect of this trail is a drop into and out of Shadow Canyon proper. From here the trail contours north, eventually connecting with Mesa Trail.

Turn right onto Mesa Trail, which eventually takes you back to the South Mesa trailhead. Mesa descends into Eldorado Canyon and proves to be one of the most heavily crowded sections of trail in Boulder. This portion of trail is also very sun-exposed, so using it during summer can prove a scorcher.

Flora & Fauna

Black bears and mountain lions inhabit this area. The area is rich with wildlife including Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks, songbirds, mule deer, and coyotes.

History & Background

Historic Dunn House. McGillvray Cabin on Towhee Trail at Shadow Canyon. Old Schoolmarm Cabin on Mesa Trail. Stockton Cabin on Shadow Canyon Trail at South Boulder Peak.

Be sure to check out the South Mesa Historic Route provided by Boulder County Open Space.


Shared By:

Tom Robson with improvements by Jack Dominey

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 19 votes


in South Mesa


  3.8 from 19 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in South Mesa


in Colorado


62 Views Last Month
8,759 Since May 5, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate



Square House in Square Format
May 7, 2015 near Superior, CO
A deer near the Homestead Trail. From August 2016.
May 3, 2017 near Boulder, CO
On the Mesa Trail, enjoy awesome views of the Flatirons and Bear Peak.
Apr 3, 2017 near Boulder, CO
Looking east, from the junction of the Mesa Trail with the South Boulder Creek West trail.
Nov 21, 2017 near Boulder, CO
The view near the intersection of Lower Big Bluestem with Upper Big Bluestem.
May 3, 2017 near Boulder, CO
Sunrise view on the Homestead Trail.
May 3, 2017 near Boulder, CO



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 5 days ago
Add Your Check-In


Apr 23, 2023
Private User
Oct 9, 2022
Alisha Welter
Sep 5, 2022
Maureen Mulvaney
Apr 30, 2022
Anna Howard
Apr 13, 2022
Eric Knierim
Mar 31, 2022
Haley Brown
Mama group hike with Mabel in carrier. Exposed, need sun protection 2.5mi
Mar 23, 2021
Bob King
Mar 7, 2021
Matt Culpepper
(6/900) To South Boulder Creek Trl and Stone Wall, to Big Blue Stem (Brammeir Homestead) and back via Mesa Trl and Towhee Trl

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started