Hall Ranch, Bitterbrush and Nelson Loop Trail

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Roosevelt National Forest

Hall Ranch, Bitterbrush and Nelson Loop Trail is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Lyons, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 9.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,505 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Note: Trails in the area tend to close under muddy conditions. For more information, please see https://www.bouldercounty.org/open-space/parks-and-trails/hall-ranch/ The Bitterbrush and Nelson Loop Trails are fairly difficult mountain bike routes that form a lasso trail near Lyons, CO. Unlike many of my other trail guides, this one is definitely a little more strenuous and technical. If you are riding a bike, prepare for steep climbs and rapid descents. There are some tricky corners and numerous rocks and roots in the trail. There is also great scenery, lots of wildlife, and a heck of a roller-coaster ride. Although this trail is good for hiking, many hikers choose Nighthawk Trail, which runs off of this trail and takes a similar route. HISTORY: In 1885, Edward Lyon settled the land that later became Hall Ranch. The sandstone quarries just to the east of Hall Ranch are made up of 52 smaller quarry pits, and these were also established by Edward Lyon. Electricity was first introduced to the region around 1912 when the Longmont Aqueduct, which supplied water from Longmont Reservoir to the power plant, can still be viewed on the north side of Hall Ranch. The name Hall Ranch was first applied to the land in the early 1940s when Hallyn and June Hall purchased a chunk of the surrounding land. WILDLIFE: Hall Ranch is rich in wildlife. It is considered a crucial nesting habitat for numerous birds. Predatory birds such as golden eagles hunt here and are always on the lookout for a feast of prairie dog or squirrel. White tailed deer and rabbit are also commonly seen from the trail. One of the better places for observing wildlife at Hall Ranch is in the meadow at the junction of Bitterbrush and Nelson Loop. In addition to the cute and cuddly critters, don't forget that rattlesnakes love sunning themselves on the trail. Leave them alone, and they're usually pretty docile. GEOLOGY: The oldest rock in the area is about 1.7 billion years old and the youngest is approximately 62 million years old. The rocks are a mix of sandstone and granite.

hiking
6 days ago

Trail is well maintained and the views along the hike are great...almost feels like you’re looking over a rainforest with as green as the surrounding foothills were. We did see a couple snakes, which unfortunately ruined the trip for us, but many more people forged ahead just fine.

Awesome trail. Lots of bikers but they’re all very friendly. Completed 10 miles with my 7 and 11 year old boys

Awesome trail! Lots of mountain bikes so we had to step off to the side a lot during the hike. It’s a narrow trail most of the way. Lots of beautiful wild flowers. Parking was difficult because the lots were completely full so we had to park on the side of the road. Probably need to get there either super early or later in the afternoon to get a good parking spot.

This is an easy, beautiful hike. It’s a fairly long distance, but goes pretty quick. There isn’t much intense elevation gain or too many rocky spots, so it’s great if you’re looking for a gorgeous, longer, but not strenuous hike. There are a ton of mountain bikers though, which did get a bit annoying. We were pulling off constantly for bikes ahead of and behind us.

hiking
20 days ago

Really nice place to hike. Nothing to hard. Some paths do not allow bikes, some are mixed use. Very dry. Flowers are starting to bloom and lots of greenery. Would go back again as there are plenty of trail options from the parking lot. Trail markings and signs are correct and very visible. Clean bathroom and nice lady in parking lot to help that worked for parks services. A+

hiking
23 days ago

This trail is so beautiful I did it Sunday and had to come back again Tuesday! Very green this time of year (mid-May), with tiny wildflowers along the sides of the trail and lovely vistas of meadow with foothills and mountains in the distance almost the entire way. Trail is entirely dry and in good condition. Lots of rocks on/in trail in the first part. Mountain bikers use this trail and no dogs are allowed. Not a lot of tree cover along the trail so would probably be very hot in summer. Not very steep so really pleasant/easy! Fun to see many deer and prairie dogs. Worth doing the Nelson Loop if you have time. I did Bitterbrush to Nelson Loop and back (9.5 miles) and it took me 4h40 min with leisurely pace and some lunch and snack breaks. There's a stream that cuts across trail about 2 miles in and then near the end of the Nelson loop trail (easier to access) if you're going clockwise.

hiking
1 month ago

kinda underwhelming but a good exercise. a lot of people and so many mountain bikers

hiking
1 month ago

Closed today :(

Great day to hike one of my favorite trail. Very easy to keep 6 ft separation from other hikers. But some bikers don't have any regard for hikers and they think they own the trail. This is in the multi-use section of the trail.

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

closed today :(

hiking
3 months ago

Fresh mountain lion scat and loads of tracks on the upper loop, be aware.

nice run. last loop was closed, but otherwise really fun on the way up and the way down. Nice flatlands landscape plenty of bikers and hikers in the late afternoon but everyone was courteous and respectful of sharing the trail. thoroughly enjoyed myself

4 months ago

Trail is almost completely dry until Nelson loop, great condition for running. Nelson loop was closed.

Good winter hike, almost no snow or ice. Beautiful day!

hiking
4 months ago

nice winter hike. sunny, no wind, and the trail was dry except for a few short icy spots. no need for spikes. Nelson loop closed, so a total of 7.5 miles instead of 9.6 miles. saw many deers.

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

Great trail and scenery. Trail was very dry and in good shape. Saw lots of deer and one elk. Mountain bikers were all courteous.

hiking
6 months ago

Great day for a hike. I saw over 60 deer.

Lots of mountain bikers out today. Beautiful location! Great weather for a hike.

Breathtaking views as you go up. Great leg workout. heart pumping. Lots of switchbacks, deer also.

hiking
7 months ago

I had an amazing time on this trail today. I got to see quite a few deer, heard lots of birdsong and even saw a snake sunning itself on the trail. It was a popular spot for mountain bikers but all were courteous. I'll be back to do the night hawk section of this trail.

running
9 months ago

7-22-19: Warm weather drew a snake out to sun itself on the trail. It wasn’t big so no worries. Little shade so having my hydration pack helped a lot. There was a group making repairs to the trail on this day. They didn’t interfere with my run. Overall, pretty fun.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Saw multiple deer and rabbits. Light rain on a beautiful day. Choppy descent but so worth it

hiking
private property
rocky
Sun Jun 02 2019

I asked for flow. they gave me a 6 mile climb for blind choppy descents. 7/10. perfect score. completely worth it

horseback riding
Thu May 23 2019

Interesting topography. Popular for equestrians. Watch for snakes on hot, summer days.

hiking
Sun Apr 07 2019

4/7/2019. Great hike! Lots of bikers. They were polite and yielded as required. Warm and sunny, not much shade. I arrived at trailhead off Hwy 7 at 1130 on Sunday morning and got the last spot.

hiking
Sun Mar 17 2019

Great space for hiking. Brought my kid's and they like enjoyed it. Great views.

Nice trail. Just a little mud in a few areas. Lots of deer, not as crowded as I thought it would be.

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