Hike the Big Bluestem Trail Loop

Colorado Mesa Trailhead

Added by Brynn Schmidt

This trail is close to Boulder and Eldorado Canyon State Park and is an easy to moderate hike with great views of the Flatirons, eastern plains and the mouth of Eldorado Canyon.

This is a great spot for an easy/moderate hike or trail run. The trail is accessible year round and can often be hiked in winter as well as other seasons. You start out at the Mesa Trailhead parking lot off of Hwy 170. There is a parking lot here but this is a starting spot for several hikes into the Flatirons, so plan ahead for a spot on weekends. This is a great trail if you only have a couple hours and want a hike with sweet views.

Start out on the south portion of the Mesa trail and follow this past a couple other trail connections until you reach the Big Bluestem Trail split. This is about 1 mile into the hike. Stay to the right on the Big Bluestem Trail and then veer left onto the UPPER Big Bluestem Trail. This part of the trail gets steeper and winds through a more forested area before it levels out at the top and starts back down. Continue on this trail until you arrive back at signs for Mesa Trail. There are many other trails in the area, so make sure you pay attention to your route. After you travel the narrow part of this trail up higher toward the Flatirons, you will wind back around to a wider trail (service road) that completes the loop. There are great spots to stop all along the way for photos of the Flatirons as well. The trail winds through grasslands, forested areas and open space. 841 feet total roundtrip elevation gain

Don't miss the Doudy-DeBacker-Dunn house that is just past the second bridge that you cross as you start out from the trailhead. This building remains from a homestead that dates back to 1875. More information is listed near the building.

This is an area known for rattlesnakes so watch your step and there is also some remaining flood damage from the 2013 floods that you will come across. Also, there are mountain lions, black bears (especially in late summer - early fall) and coyote in this area so stay alert and use caution at dawn and dusk.

If you plan an afternoon/evening hike, head over to Mountain Sun Brewery (this location is called the Southern Sun Pub & Brewery) in South Boulder and also check out Boulder's best mountaineering store in the same center, Neptune Mountaineering.

Pack List

  • Water bottle
  • Camera
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Fitness, Hiking, Running

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



4.35 Miles

Elev. Gain:

841 Feet



Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

First Hike Of The Year

The wife and I moved here 9 months ago last year we did the Royal Arch with my cousin and his family for our first hike ever thought I was going to die!!! We are from Missouri so not used to the altitude but we got hooked and couldn't wait for it to warm up, so we decided on this to start the year out!! Some steep places that the wife thought was rough she has asthma but she brought her inhaler and did great looking forward to next weekends hike going to go scout out Rocky Mountain National Forest for hikes!!!

5 months ago

5 months ago

Good Views

This is a great and easy hike with great panoramic views and some nice diversity. Situated right outside of Boulder and Golden, it's a nice trail to use all times of the year because of the surrounding mountain views.

5 months ago

Added by Brynn Schmidt

I love wilderness/beaches: photography, hiking, camping, backpacking, and hanging out with my guys while they climb. Mom, wife and co-founder of non-profit organization serving in Gabon and DRC, Africa. Find me on Instagram @brynn.alise.photography

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