Marshall Mesa to Spring Brook Loop
ElevationAscent: 893' 272 m
Descent: -893' -272 m
High: 6,236' 1,901 m
Low: 5,567' 1,697 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)
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“Some of the best trails that Boulder has to offer with a variety of options that never get old.”— Kristen Arendt
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 run.
Doudy Draw 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 runners 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 running 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.
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Land Manager: City of Boulder, Colorado - Parks and Recreation