Shanahan/Big Bluestem Loop | Colorado | 05/12/20

Shanahan/Big Bluestem Loop | Boulder OSMP

Boulder, CO | 05/12/20| 4.97 miles | 876′ gain


I met up with my friend Tori for a quick hike before work. Boulder is always convenient and there are infinite trails to choose from. This loop was perfect for a morning workout!

We met at the Shanahan Ridge Trailhead, which is in a neighborhood. We did the loop counter-clockwise and started by heading west on the North Fork Shanahan Trail. This trail ascends through the forest and into the foothills.

Arnica (Arnica sp.)
Western Wallflower (Erysimum asperum)

It was strangely foggy but the fog made the colors of the flowers pop. (So get ready for a LOT of flowers!)

Golden Banner (Thermopsis rhombifolia)
Cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.)
Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)
Sand Lily (Leucocrinum montanum)
Whiskbroom Parsley (Harbouria trachypleura)

This loop isn’t very difficult but I did stop every three feet to take a picture of yet another flower. There are a number of intersections along this route, some marked better than others. We turned left on the Mesa Trail and headed south along the base of the Flatirons.

Lady isn’t having it.
Lanceleaf Chiming Bells (Mertensia lanceolata)
Frozen tent caterpillars (they were still alive, just a little frosty!)

We were only on the Mesa Trail for a mile before taking another left on the Upper Big Bluestem Trail. This trail was much more rugged and rocky, but still easy enough to follow as we worked our way east back to the plains.

It’s hard to see, but there are some cabin ruins in this meadow.

As the forest turned into grassland, the fog dissipated and we could see more of our surroundings. We eventually connected with the Lower Big Bluestem Trail and Bluestem Connector Trail (two more lefts).

Wild Iris (Iris missouriensis)

We went through a few gates, into and out of a cattle pasture. They watched us but didn’t seem bothered at all. (And Lady had no idea they were even there.)

Texas Elk (aka cattle)

We walked through the prairie/pasture for a little while longer before entering the forest again as we neared the Shanahan neighborhood. A perfect before-work hike!


13 thoughts on “Shanahan/Big Bluestem Loop | Colorado | 05/12/20

      1. Oh, we are missing so much the higher mountains of the Austrian Alps, where we usually go for summer’s freshness in July or August. What a beautiful trail here in Colorado, cool location 🙂


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