Boulder Hike of the Month: Betasso Preserve

Betasso Preserve 1
Summer in Boulder is bustling. Much of our open space feels a little less open when thousands of locals and tourists descend upon it in droves. Thankfully there are still plenty of spots where you can enjoy a quieter scene with plenty of room to breathe.

Enter Betasso Preserve, a mere 6 miles up Boulder Canyon. With 1,151 acres of breathing room, it’s the perfect place to escape the summer crowds. Betasso features a network of multi-use trails that are extremely popular with mountain bikers. And unbeknownst to many, it’s an incredibly sweet spot for hikers on Wednesdays and Saturdays when bikes are not permitted.

On non-bike days, Betasso’s sweeping vistas, vast meadows, and peaceful forests provide a welcome respite from the packed trails of Chautauqua and Sanitas. The rolling trails range from easy to moderate and provide a variety of options, from a half-mile out-and-back to a 7.3-mile loop. Wildlife is abundant. Wide-open spaces abound. Read on for your guide to the beautiful Betasso Preserve.

As always, check for trail conditions and temporary closures before heading out. Dogs are permitted but must remain on-leash. While hikers are permitted at Betasso Preserve seven days a week, park rangers recommend that hikers avoid bike days. For an optimal hiking experience, plan your visit for a Wednesday or Saturday.

Get There

Head west on CO-119 for about 6 miles. Turn right onto Sugarloaf Road and then turn right again onto Betasso Road. The main trailhead is on the left. There are restrooms, picnic tables, and a large group shelter.

Hike It

Combine the Canyon Loop and Benjamin Loop for a beautiful 7.3-mile hike with over 800 feet of elevation gain. Begin heading east on the Canyon Loop. In about a ½ mile, you’ll reach a clearing with beautiful views to the east and the south.

Betasso Preserve 2

Continue hiking to the junction with Loop Link. This 0.8-mile trail connects Canyon Loop with Benjamin Loop. Turn right onto the Loop Link and then proceed on Benjamin Loop. Benjamin Loop winds through a dense forest for 2.4 miles and then reconnects with the Loop Link.

betasso preserve 3

Take the Loop Link back to Canyon Loop. Turn right to finish the second half of Canyon Loop and return to the trailhead. As you make your way back, the forest opens up again to a large meadow and offers views to the west.

For beginners, kids, or out-of-towners, Canyon Loop by itself is a shorter but satisfying option at 3.3 miles and 400 feet of elevation gain. Simply stay on the loop and avoid the turn onto the Loop Link.

Extra Credit

Bummer’s Rock at Betasso Preserve is a tiny little trail that delivers big. From the main parking lot, head south and follow the signs to Bummer’s Rock Trail. The trail is steep but short and in 0.3 miles you’ll be standing on one of Boulder County’s most impressive rocky outcrops. (Be sure to continue past the first collection of boulders to arrive at the real deal.)

betasso preserve 4

From this spot, the views of Boulder Canyon and beyond are truly breathtaking. Both locals and tourists will be wowed by the panorama. This is a wonderful way to wrap up your trail time at Betasso. Enjoy a picnic lunch, take lots of photos, and return the way you came.

Happy trails, Boulderites!

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Alli Fronzaglia

Alli Fronzaglia

Alli Fronzaglia is a hiking guide, naturalist, and community volunteer. Originally from New England, she and her family have settled down in Boulder for the long haul. When she's not hiking or running on Boulder's trails, Alli is hitting the water with her standup paddleboard. She writes to inspire others to get outside and play. Alli serves on the board of the PLAY Boulder Foundation and she's the co-founder of Boulder Hiker Chicks.
Alli Fronzaglia

Alli Fronzaglia

Alli Fronzaglia is a hiking guide, naturalist, and community volunteer. Originally from New England, she and her family have settled down in Boulder for the long haul. When she's not hiking or running on Boulder's trails, Alli is hitting the water with her standup paddleboard. She writes to inspire others to get outside and play. Alli serves on the board of the PLAY Boulder Foundation and she's the co-founder of Boulder Hiker Chicks.

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