An old quarry with sandstone sofas. A stone cabin with a curious past. Sweeping panoramas of the city and plains. What do these have in common?
They’re all part of the 2.6 mile round trip hike to Woods Quarry. This moderate hike is suitable for most fitness levels, and its unique features make it particularly appealing to children, out-of-towners, and local history buffs. Read on for all the dirt on this classic Boulder hike.
The Woods Quarry hike begins at Chautauqua Trailhead. Head west on Baseline Road and turn left just past 9th Street. This popular trailhead is full of amenities but it can be crowded on weekends and in the summer. Allow extra time for parking or consider biking or public transit if you’re planning to hike during peak times.
As always, please consult OSMP.org for trail conditions and temporary closures.
Begin at the Ranger Cottage and head south on Bluebell Road. Bluebell climbs gently but steadily to a junction with Mesa Trail. Continue south on Mesa as you enter the ponderosa pine forest. At the one-mile mark, you’ll reach the intersection with Woods Quarry and Enchanted Mesa trails. Stay to the right and follow the sign to Woods Quarry.
The Woods Quarry trail loop is a mere 0.4 miles long. The trail steepens considerably as it climbs to the quarry, but only for a short stretch. When you reach the quarry, you’ll top out at a wide-open expanse. Take in the beautiful views of the city and the plains stretching out to the east.
Woods Quarry began operations in the 1890’s with owners Jonas Bergheim and Frank Wood. The sandstone from this site was used for sidewalks and buildings throughout the growing city. The steep trip up to the quarry was not easy, though, and competition from more accessible quarries eventually forced Bergheim and Wood out of business. In 1920, the City of Boulder purchased the land for public recreation and conservation.
The old quarry is an incredible place for a picnic. Visitors have taken the large sandstone slabs and arranged them to form an outdoor living room of sorts. Rocky chaise lounges, armchairs, and sofas make for a one-of-a-kind pit stop. Take a seat, soak in the view, and enjoy.
To return to the trailhead, head back the way you came but turn right to go down the other side of the loop. This section of the trail takes you past Roosa Cabin. This quaint stone building is a bit of a mystery. It lies on a small privately owned parcel that was part of an old Boulder family homestead. The city does not know how old the cabin is, only that it was occupied as a residence in the 1970’s. There have been many theories as to how the cabin was used over the years, but none have been substantiated. Do you have any information about the Roosa Cabin? If so, OSMP would like to hear from you!
From the Roosa Cabin, it’s an easy-going saunter back to where you started. Woods Quarry reconnects with Mesa and finally Bluebell to take you back to the trailhead. The total elevation gain for this hike is 964 feet.
For a slight variation, opt for Enchanted Mesa Trail on the return. The distance is nearly the same, although you will be re-entering Chautauqua Park from a different point.
To add a little extra mileage, return via Mesa to Bluebell Road and connect with Bluebell-Baird Trail. Follow Bluebell-Baird north and then head east on Baseline Trail to get back to the trailhead.
Happy trails, Boulderites!
Photo Credit: Alli Fronzaglia — all rights reserved