It’s always exciting to observe the changing seasons in Boulder County, particularly when that change is from winter to spring. As our local flora and fauna awaken, so do we. Months of tiptoeing over ice and trudging through snow have worn us down. Mornings spent searching for lost gloves and strapping on foot traction have left us weary. And even though spring often roars like a lion here on the Front Range, signs of gentler, easier times begin to pop up. A crocus rises through the mud and melting snow. A well-rested chipmunk scurries among the brush. All the while, migratory songbirds provide the soundtrack.
Spring is upon us, and what better way to soak it all in than with a hike on our local trails? A spring hike is the perfect way to awaken your body and mind, as you observe the wakening world around you. Below are two hikes that showcase this wondrous and transitional time in Boulder County.
Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat (East Boulder County)
Access the trailhead by taking 75th Street to Walden Ponds Road.
The total distance of this network of trails is 3.5 miles (including the Heatherwood Trail) with negligible elevation gain. Several loop options are possible, with the shortest being less than one mile. Please note that wading, swimming, and boating are not allowed on this property.
These gentle trails encircle a wetlands habitat that was developed for both public recreation and wildlife protection in the 1970s. Though the name conjures up images of Thoreau writing from his cabin in the woods, Walden Ponds was actually named after Walden “Wally” Toevs, the Boulder County Commissioner who led the development of the site.
With a mix of open fields, marsh and ponds, Walden Ponds is ideal for spring bird watchingespecially warblers and waterfowl. Mammals like fox and coyote are active here as well. Plant life is abundant, both in and out of the water. Look for a variety of grasses, wildflowers, and deciduous trees. Spring on the plains is perfectly encapsulated here.
Meyers Homestead Trail at Walker Ranch Open Space (West Boulder County)
Access the trailhead by heading west on Flagstaff Road approximately 7.5 miles.
This is an out-and-back trail totaling five miles round trip, but it can easily be made into a shorter hike by turning around sooner. Elevation gain is roughly 600 feet.
The Meyers Homestead Trail is located on Walker Ranch, a 6,000-acre cattle ranch and homestead owned by James Walker and his family from 1882 to 1959. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Homestead ruins are visible from the trail.
Though close to town, this hike feels as though it’s a hundred miles (and perhaps a hundred years) away from civilization. The trail ambles through a variety of habitats, from aspen and pine forest to mountain stream to open meadow. From leaf buds to wildflowers, signs of spring abound. The diverse landscape provides habitat for dozens of bird species. Woodpeckers, chickadees, and other insect-eaters flit up and down tree trunks looking for their spring meals. For the hiker, the mountainous views are icing on the cake.