Spring has officially arrived in Boulder. As long time residents will tell you, that doesn’t necessarily mean the wintery weather is over. Spring brings a little bit of everything to Boulder: sunshine, rain, snow, and mud. (And sometimes that’s all in one day!) But even as the wacky weather keeps us guessing, the plants and animals in our open space are clearly on track.
Wildflowers like spring beauties are some of the first to pop up. Pasqueflowers, mahonia, and chiming bells are soon to follow. Seemingly overnight, bursts of color begin to decorate the trail’s edges. With plant life reawakening, our local animals become more active as well. Migrating birds are passing through or returning to their summer home. Hibernating mammals are reemerging and refueling.
Indeed, Boulder’s open space is teeming with spring activity and we’re fortunate to have over 145 miles of trails from which to observe this annual phenomenon. Boulder’s peaks rise sharply from the plains and feature a multitude of canyons that allow for an incredible array of plant and animal life.
One of Boulder’s most beautiful but lesser known canyons is Skunk Canyon. Even though the canyon is easily accessed from both NCAR and Chautauqua, it maintains a refreshingly low profile and neighborhood vibe. The Skunk Canyon Trail, at 1.3 miles and 550 feet of elevation gain, is easy going and unassuming. It lacks any steep climbs or far-off mountain views. It’s often bypassed by hikers and runners on their way elsewhere. And that’s the beauty of it.
Predominantly used by locals from the surrounding neighborhood, Skunk Canyon is the perfect spot for a quiet spring hike. Plant and animal life is abundant and easy to observe. The all-level trail can be hiked on its own or connected with a variety of nearby trails. And while it lacks vistas beyond Boulder, Skunk Canyon features a breathtaking backdrop that includes the Flatirons, Bear Peak, and Devil’s Thumb.
Please consult OSMP.org for trail conditions and temporary closures. The City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks is currently embarking on multiple restoration projects that will impact several areas of the trail system in the coming months. Always check the interactive map (updated daily) before heading out.