The trails and trailheads may be closed when wet.
Starting from the Marshall Mesa trailhead, you'll head through the main gate on Coal Seam
. This short connector trail climbs gradually up to the ridge, paralleling CO-93, until coming to the Community Ditch
Trail which runs along the canal (which may or may not have water flowing in it).
From Coal Seam
, take a left on the Community Ditch
for a short but rocky jaunt along the canal. Keep your eye open for the first bridge on your right where you'll connect with the Greenbelt Plateau
Trail. Head across the small bridge and up a short steep section with large rock steps followed by several steps. Once at the top of this steeper section, the trail continues to climb gradually through a more open meadow and thinning pine trees.
Crest the hill on Greenbelt Plateau
and descend the doubletrack. Watch out for the friendly cows who may not be inclined to move from your path. Once at the bottom, you'll intersect with High Plains
branching left, and Greenbelt Connector
heading right. Take Greenbelt Connector
across 93 where you'll stay right onto Flatirons Vista North
Flatirons Vista North
starts out with a gradual uphill through an open meadow. This is followed by a steeper hill on a wide dirt road that can be a bit rocky. This little bit of a leg burner will get you to the top of the mesa where the views of the Flatirons back toward Boulder are quite impressive. This trail section is a flat, gentle trail with some loose rocks through a fairly open forest. You'll catch some nice views through the trees in places as you make your west, to a connection with Doudy Draw
. Head through the gate and continue onto Doudy Draw
which is one of the highlights of the hike.
winds its way south through a nice forest with fleeting views of the Front Range and the Spring Brook Loop area. In the early spring, you can hear the sound of the creek below, and any time of year, you'll enjoy the solitude of running on this singletrack on the backside of the mesa. The trail switchbacks a few times to ease the descent to a stream crossing. When the water is low, you can easily rock hop across and as of spring of 2016, there is a bridge in process of being built to save you from getting wet feet.
Once past the stream, climb up the hillside to the next intersection where you'll turn left onto Spring Brook Loop South
. This rocky singletrack is not too steep, but may challenge less advanced hikers due to its steady incline. The trail works its way into the trees and will become winding and more deeply wooded as you continue on. In the spring, you may find that the trail is aptly named for the water that flows down it at regular intervals. At the halfway point, you'll arrive at a marked intersection. Stay straight to complete the loop (Spring Brook Loop North
Continuing north, Spring Brook Loop North
winds way back and forth until you eventually emerge from the forest. From this vantage point, there are expansive views across the plains to the Flatirons and you'll pass through a meadow that is full of wildflowers in the early spring. To your left (west), you'll have a great perspective of the foothills, and may even see a train climb up towards the Continental Divide.
The trail winds around back to the east and then south to meet up with Spring Brook Loop South
and the start of the loop. At the bottom, turn left onto Doudy Draw
. The trail descends quickly on loose, winding singletrack with multiple rocky sections. Keep an eye open for deer on the opposing hillside, and the hawks and eagles that tend to circle the area.
After crossing a larger bridge, turn right onto Community Ditch
. This mostly flat doubletrack takes you back east and proves a nice respite from the more technical hiking and hills of the Spring Brook Loop. You may again encounter cows grazing along the trail. Head into the newly constructed underpass and turn left onto Coal Seam
to return to the trailhead.
Ponderosa and lodgepole pine along the mesa, large cottonwoods by the creek. Wildflowers in the early spring including pasque flowers, candytuft, bluebells, sweet peas, goldenrod, indian paintbrush, and fireweed among others. Deer, coyotes, hawks, eagles, meadowlarks, and many other birds.