Hike Woods Quarry
Colorado › NCAR Trailhead
Added by Jennifer Broome
- The Flatirons are the prime spot to hike in Boulder
- One of the lesser-known gems in the Flatirons is Woods Quarry
- This is a one-of-a-kind pit stop in Colorado is perfect for a picnic and to just kick back and enjoy the view
- 3.5 miles round trip (can easily add additional mileage)
You can start from Chautauqua Park, but I prefer to start at NCAR, especially since there is ample parking and you can take a bathroom break inside before hitting the trail. From the intersection of Table Mesa Drive and Broadway in Boulder, drive west on Table Mesa to its end at the NCAR building. Take a few moments to check out their World of Weather Exhibit. It’s really well done and it is free. The trailhead is on the northwest side of the building just off the road.
From the NCAR Trailhead, the hike is about 3.5 miles round trip with a elevation gain of close to 400 feet. You can easily add more mileage starting at a lower access point on NCAR grounds or hiking additional trails. The NCAR trail is easy. It starts on a small mesa, turns into a short rocky slope that opens up to a saddle, then climbs another ridge to a water tank before connecting to the Mesa Trail in a pretty valley.
As you hike on to the Mesa Trail, you will get some a couple of short, steep hills, a small water crossing and a couple of switchbacks before hitting a fairly level trail that offers great views of Boulder. Mesa Trail is very popular with hikers, trail runners, and folks hiking with dogs. Make sure to enjoy the wildflowers along the way.
Look for a little cabin. There’s a bit of mystery with Roosa Cabin. It was part of an old Boulder family homestead. It is not known how old the cabin is, but it was occupied as a residence in the 1970s. Turn left and this starts the steepest part of the hike. Don’t worry, the steep, stair-step climb is short. Just about the time you want to stop, you’ll be there.
The quarry is an open shelf below an avalanche of rocks. I’m not sure who built the stone chaise lounges and sofas but this outdoor living room is perfect for taking in a view of Boulder below.
The stones are all sandstone. Woods Quarry began operations in the 1890s and the sandstone was used for sidewalks and buildings in Boulder. The quarry shut down because of competition from more accessible quarries and in 1920 the City of Boulder purchased the land for public recreation and conservation.
If you want a slightly shorter route, start at Chautauqua Park. From the intersection of Broadway St. and Baseline Rd., drive west up Baseline Rd. for 1.1 miles and turn left into the parking area. The park is very popular so get there early as parking can be an issue. For a 2.8 mile round trip hike with 964 foot elevation gain, take the Bluebell Road leading south from the Chautauqua Trailhead and continue south on the Mesa Trail. Turn right at the stone cabin to get to the abandoned quarry.
- Comfortable shoes - regular sneakers are fine
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