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Mesa Trail



6.3 mile 10.1 kilometer point to point
89% Runnable


Ascent: 801' 244 m
Descent: -1,190' -363 m
High: 6,428' 1,959 m
Low: 5,623' 1,714 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 17% (9°)


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Trail shared by Brian Smith

A backbone of the south Boulder trail system that hugs the foothills.

Brian Smith

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Runner Notes

This trail makes for a great out and back run that works out to be roughly a half-marathon.


Mesa Trail runs north to south all the way from the top of Bluebell Road in Chautauqua to the South Mesa Trailhead near Eldorado Springs. As a product of its extended nature, Mesa Trail travels up and down through varied terrain and environments. The general pattern the Mesa Trail follows is into and out of drainages and across flatter sections in between.

Mesa trail connects to pretty much every major east-west trail in south Boulder. Trail junctions include the Kohler and Enchanted Mesa trails, the NCAR trails, Bear Canyon Trail, Fern Canyon trail, North and South Fork Shanahan Trail, Upper Big Bluestem Trail, Shadow Canyon, Homestead Trail and Towhee trails.

Trail users can expect to travel through mixed grassland/prairie and ponderosa pine savannah. Looking westward, great views of the Flatirons and frontrange peaks can be had. Simultaneously, vistas of the plains are on offer to the east. Near the junction with Shadow Canyon South Spur, there are great views of devil's thumb, a large rock tower on South Boulder Peak's southern ridge.

The largest and most sustained elevation change is on Mesa Trail's southern end as it descends into Eldorado Canyon. This portion of trail also happens to be mostly exposed so heading up it during the summer can be 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. This trail passes through a mixture mixed grass prairie ponderosa pine savannah.

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Jul 13, 2019
David Demmer
14mi — 2h 53m
Jul 6, 2019
William Beard
6.7mi — 1h 23m
Apr 9, 2019
Mar 25, 2019
Jeff Wang
With sea level matt lieb. One gel each at the turnaround. 12.6mi — 2h 39m
Feb 16, 2019
Emmi L
Still pretty icy and muddy on the Mesa. Microspikes are a must! 11.3mi
Nov 4, 2018
James Carson
Sep 30, 2018
Nadine Lehner
Sep 15, 2018
Hugh Huffaker

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 28 votes


  4.5 from 28 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Colorado


139 Views Last Month
10,044 Since Dec 17, 2014



A snowy start of the Mesa Trail looking at the first Flatiron.
Apr 14, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Bear Peak, the Goose and the Seal with permission from BoulderTraveler
Jan 8, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Square House in Square Format
May 7, 2015 near Superior, CO
The Mesa Trail overlooking NCAR and the valley below. Dogs are allowed off leash if they have their Blue tags
Apr 13, 2015 near Boulder, CO
The turn on the Mesa Trail down to the steps to the stream crossing behind NCAR
Apr 14, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Bluebell Road treats users to nice views
Jun 29, 2015 near Boulder, CO


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