Betasso Preserve | Boulder County Open Space
Boulder, CO | 12/08/19 | 5.47 miles | 777′ gain | Class 1
My friend Tori and I finally got together for a hike after a long hiatus. Her only request was that the hike be forested. I can definitely work with that!
I’d been to Betasso a number of years ago (way before I started blogging) but I couldn’t remember what trails I’d done so it was on my list to visit again. There are 9.2 miles of trails within the Preserve so we’d have plenty of options to choose from. Ultimately, we did the Bummer’s Rock Trail, Canyon Loop, and Blanchard Trail.
From the main parking area, we set off down the trail to Bummer’s Rock. This is a short side trail that leads to the top of a rocky outcrop. It’s not particularly high in elevation but it was a fun side trip. Not many people come down this trail and we post-holed through 6-12″ drifts part of the way. We even had the summit to ourselves! This trail is definitely not as well maintained as the other trails in the park, and some parts are very steep.
After a quick snack break on the summit of Bummer’s Rock, we returned to the main parking lot to start the Canyon Loop. The Canyon Loop trail is wide, well maintained, and gradual, the exact opposite of the Bummer’s Rock Trail. We’d brought micro-spikes but ended up not needing them at all. Any snowy or icy sections were short lived or not steep enough to be dangerous.
We’d intended on going down the Blanchard Trail (another side trail to a historic site) but we couldn’t find it so we continued along the Canyon Loop instead. The trail heads down on the way out, leaving all of your elevation gain to the second half of the loop, but the trail was so gradual that it wasn’t a big deal.
The Canyon Loop is fun because you’re in a forest but there are enough openings that you can see what’s around you most of the time. It was just the foothills, but the views were still nice.
On the far side of the Canyon Loop, we started the ascent back to the car. We were now on the other side of the “canyon” and could often see where we’d walked earlier.
Once we got back to the trailhead, we were determined to find the Blanchard Trail that we’d missed earlier. We wanted to see the historic site, darn it! I studied the map again and nothing made sense (at least not with snow on the ground!), but I just happened to look to my left and saw a tiny sign in the distance. When I walked closer, I saw that it said “Blanchard Trail”. So THIS is where it’s been hiding! (If you have a hard time finding it too, go left from the main trailhead kiosk towards the picnic shelter. The sign is right by that!)
The Blanchard Trail is a short side trail to the old Blanchard/Betasso Ranch. We went down the 150 or so stairs and reached the restored barn. The untouched snow in the area indicated no one had walked this way in a while.
A few more stairs down and we reached the cabin. The cabin was built by the Blanchard family in the early 1900s. In 1915, Stephen Betasso, a miner, bought the 160 acre ranch from the Blanchards. He and his sons expanded the ranch with their profits from mining and used the ranch for wintering quarters for their cattle.
Once we finished exploring the outside of the buildings (the inside is closed for safety reasons), we headed back up the stairs to the trailhead. Another great day!