Enchanted Mesa Trail Near Boulder, Colorado

May 21, 2014 Comments (3) 1-2 Miles, About 45 Min, Boulder Hikes, Easy, hikes with kids denver, Rock Formations, visiting family friends

Enchanted Mesa Trail Near Boulder, Colorado

enchanted mesa hike in boulders chautauqua park

Boulder’s Chautauqua park boasts some of the best hiking in Colorado, especially if you are looking for accessibility–many of the trailheads are right in town. The Enchanted Mesa trail lives up to its name. The dense pine forest and the wide curving path looks like something out of a fairy tale. It’s a fairly easy hike, with a surprising amount of shade, great views of the Flatirons, and close to Denver. Before you launch out to explore Enchanted Mesa, be sure to check out our detailed description of the hike, the Chautauqua Park trail map, and our hiking tips for this great Boulder Hike.



Trail Snapshot: Enchanted Mesa Trail – Chautauqua Park

  • Hike Distance: 1.8-2 mile RT
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: approx 1.5 hr
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: +437′
  • Seasons: All Year
  • Dogs: Allowed on Leash
  • Hike Trail Map: Click for Enchanted Mesa Trail Map link
  • Denver Drive Time: 40 min
  • Directions: Click for Google Map
  • Town Nearest Hike: Boulder, Colorado
  • Beauty: Ponderosa pine forest, views of Boulder’s famous Flatirons
  • Activities: Hiking, Running, Picnics



Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado

Start your hike at parking lot near the Chautauqua Auditorium Trailhead. There is limited parking at the trailhead picnic shelter, but you can find more space around the auditorium and in side streets. Keep in mind that parking in the Chautauqua park area fills up fast.

Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado Header Trailhead Parking

There are a few options you can consider before starting the hike.

1# Enchanted Mesa – McClintock Loop – 1.4 mile loop

Your first possibility is to hike the trail clockwise by taking the Enchanted Mesa trail out, then returning on the McClintock trail, making it into a loop. You’ll head out on the wide path of the Enchanted Mesa Trail which leads you gradually uphill, across a stone bridge, and onto the Mesa. Once you get on the Mesa, walk into a pine forest. The trees get thicker and taller as you go until you feel like you have walked into an enchanted forest. My kids, who are six and 3, hiked this early one Saturday in April (you’ll see our muddy shoes at the end of the post), when snow still covered parts of the trail and the city was still asleep. It did feel like stepping, just for a moment, into another world.

Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado Forest

When you get to where the Enchanted Mesa Trail intersects with the McClintock trail, turn right and take the the McClintock Trail. Because it’s so narrow, this part of the trail doesn’t allow dogs. The return trail at least one steep section, but you’ll find stairs cut into the hillside to help you on your way. The Mclintock trail was very muddy coming down, so we expect this trail to be muddy in the warmer days of winter, a lot of spring, and after the Summer rains. We’ve got a great tip below to help you with that.


Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado go down not up

About halfway back along the McClintock trail, you’ll encounter an intersection where a rough set of steps lead up to the right, and on your left, you’ll see the path leading back down toward the creek valley. Go left/down (see the photo) to stay on the McClintock trail. On the way down, you will see the flood damage in the ravine caused by the 2013 flood.

2# – McClintock to Enchanted Mesa – Loop – 1.4 mile loop

This is simply hiking the same loop, but counter-clockwise. The benefit to this is that you get better views of the Flatirons hiking West on the McClintock trail. The McClintock Trailhead starts right from the picnic pavilion behind the Chautauqua Amphitheater. It is 0.7 miles long and ascends 335 feet to where it ties in with Enchanted Mesa.

Wood Quarry Hike

#3 – Enchanted Mesa + Quarry Loop – 1.8 miles

Quarry Loop is beautiful little jaunt off of the top of the Enchanted Mesa trail. If you wish to add 0.4 mile to your hike and enjoy the more of the mesa forest, follow either of the directions above, and look for the Quarry loop near the intersection of the two main trails. This turns your hike into a figure-eight. You will head uphill until you see an old stone cabin. When you get to the cabin, turn right and enter the short and steep stair-step climb to the quarry. When you get on the top you can relax in the hand-crafted chairs and take in the scenery of Chautauqua park.

Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado Woods Quarry trail

If you add the Kohler Mesa trail to option #3 you can make your hike close to 2 miles long, giving you the chance to explore even more of the mesa.

This is a great hike any time of year, but is especially great in the Spring. We always find the people of Boulder very friendly, so expect good company. People will be out with their dogs, trail running, and talking with friends. Particularly in the early hours of the morning, it’s idyllic.

Tips & Hiking the Enchanted Mesa Trail:

  • It Can Be Muddy: Bring an extra pair of shoes or sandals, so that you’re not getting mud all over the floor of your car. There are bags at the trailhead for disposal of dog poop. Our kids shoes were covered with mud, and we used the bags to keep from getting mud all over the back of the car. An even better solution would be to bring plastic shopping bags with you.
  • Dog Restriction: Dogs are not allowed on the Lower & Upper McClintock Trail. So, you’ll have to return on the Enchanted Mesa trail with Fido, or check the map for other options.
  • No Bikes: Bicycles are prohibited on the trails in the Chautauqua area.
  • Bring a picnic or a snack: There are some great picnic spots along the Enchanted Mesa hike.
  • Map: Chautauqua Park Enchanted Mesa Trail Map
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Lollicup Boulder Coffe&Tea


Enchanted Mesa Boulder Colorado muddy shoes

Weather


Boulder, CO
41°
showers
91% humidity
wind: 4mph NW
H 46 • L 38
52°
Wed
63°
Thu
53°
Fri


Map & Driving Directions




Click for Driving Directions

3 Responses to Enchanted Mesa Trail Near Boulder, Colorado

  1. Bryan says:

    This trail is not nearly as exciting as this post makes it sound. While it is a relatively safe hike, it doesnt live up to the “out of a fairytale” hype. It was very busy and difficult to get to the auditorium, so we went back to find this trail and it was not worth the work.
    We did get to hear the symphony practicing at the auditorium, which made it almost worth the trip.

  2. Thanks for your honest review of the trail. It’s not hype though–Hiking with kids gives you eyes for things many might miss :)

  3. MNHiker says:

    This is a very simple trail and would likely be good for kids. I don’t see anything ‘Enchanted’ about it- The Enchanted Forest at Apex Mountain would be a far better choice for forest seekers.

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