With the weather looking great we chose to get outside and start a late afternoon hike without a particular destination in mind. The Flatirons are practically spitting distance from our front door so we drove out to South Mesa trailhead (Boulder Open Space). One of our favorite features of Boulder Opens Spaces as they are generally dog friendly and with a permit we can have our mini-aussie off leash while hiking which is a huge plus.
We started heading west on the Homestead trail which quickly moves through open grasslands with great views looking out towards Eldorado Canyon SP. With the Flatirons beckoning we continued west up Shadow Canyon trail which wouldn’t you know is quite dark and shaded.
Feeling spry at the next trail junction we made a fateful decision to push on towards South Boulder Peak. South Boulder is the tallest of the mountains just due west of Boulder and is the most prominent of the 3 peaks. This trail is a butt-kicker of the highest order. It follows a very narrow and steep gully for a 1500ft climb to a saddle between South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak. The trail is very easy to follow but be prepared for a calf and butt burning climb over large steps. On the plus side the gulch is well shaded the entire way sparing you a scorching ascent up the mountain. We kept pushing hoping to make South Boulder Peak but we had left so late in the day we scaled back our goal to just reach the saddle.
Thankfully sanity prevailed and we checked our watches and quickly agreed it just wasn’t worth it to keep pushing on as we didn’t want to come stumbling down the trail in the dark (I wasn’t sure how much charge our headlamps had). A little disappointed we turned around 1/4 mile from the saddle and made quick progress down to the last trail junction.
On the way back to the car we quickly lost the sun and darkness descended. I was very glad we turned around as my headlamp wasn’t fully charged and put out a weak beam that was barely adequate for night hiking. We made it back to the car very late (past 8pm) with tired legs. This hike is a real butt burner (+3000ft) but I’m looking forward to our next chance to get back out there and bag South Boulder Peak 😀
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: 2200 feet
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