Walker Ranch Loop Trail

HARD 571 reviews
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Walker Ranch Loop Trail is a 8.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,650 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Walker Ranch is a fantastic loop, that can be taken both clockwise and counter. Going counter clockwise starts you off on a fantastic downhill, just be careful for walkers and dogs. Once at the bottom, you will start a moderate but tiring climb that eventually opens up at the top into an area with a parking lot, which is where the real fun starts! From this point you will experience what some would argue is 2 miles of the best downhill you will ever ride. This is followed by a short portage down some very steep steps, followed by another moderate climb back to the trail head. If you still need more, just turn around and start again, going the opposite direction, because by now you know the climb you did through the forest.

hiking
6 days ago

Ending was a little exposed and views weren’t that great haha

hiking
7 days ago

This trail is amazing. Pack snacks and water. This trail will kick your butt on the best way!! There are some harder parts of this trail so be prepared for an adventure and some soreness in your legs the next day.

hiking
12 days ago

A lovely trail! We did it clockwise and it seemed like most people were doing the same. There is good shade in the forest and the river is beautiful. A new favorite!

doing the full loop was great high peaks and great creek crossings deff a harder trail due to the makeshift steps in areas

hiking
rocky
15 days ago

Magnificent trail! Spectacular views everywhere you look. We went clockwise and did get mislead by one trail sign that was a bit misleading.and ended up at the Ethel Harold parking lot.The all trails app is not fully updated. We’ll be back to do more exploring along the Flagstaff road access. Being extra water and a hat!

hiking
bugs
no shade
18 days ago

running
scramble
19 days ago

went clock wise by accident ended up going out to fast and dying during hard climbs bring water! or hydrate really well before going on this trai!

hiking
19 days ago

Pleasant hike, beautiful scenes. Trail difficulty can be enhanced by where you choos to park, and the direction you head.

hiking
19 days ago

GORGEOUS! And strenuous. We started around 9:00am. Plenty of parking left and there are bathrooms at the start of the loop. We went counter clockwise, and I'm still unsure if that was the right move or it would have been equally challenging going the other way. My Apple Watch clocked 8.34 miles and 1,533 feet in elevation. It took us a little more than 4 hours taking several breaks for water and snacks. Every mile was visually different. No major steep climbs or scramble, but my legs definitely felt the subtle inclines and declines. Definitely bring sunscreen. It was also over 90 degrees by the time we finished and we were in the sun for much of the last third of the trail. The best part was the waterfall and the river. So gorgeous and you get to see it twice! The bridges over the water are cute and a good place to take in the scenery. You also have views of the mountains throughout the whole hike, which is great because there isn't a peak, per say. There was a handful of bikers that we had to let pass, but it was not overcrowded by any means. Maybe it was the heat or the length of the trail but as soon as I got back into the car, I fell asleep from exhaustion! Such a good workout.

hiking
20 days ago

Hiked on 8/31/19. Went counter-clockwise and did the full ~8ish mile loop. Started at 7 and was back at the car for 11. This was a great trail! Favorite parts were at Boulder Creek. Glad I got an early start because it was very hot by the end! There are sections with very little to no shade, so definitely bring a hat and lots of water. No issues finding and staying on trail- everything is well marked. The mountain cyclists all had very good trail etiquette. Happy hiking!

hiking
28 days ago

As Floridians, we really enjoyed all this hike had to offer: views of the open countryside, a rushing river carving its way between the mountains, distant snow-capped peaks, and shady forests. We even saw some wildlife, including two deer and a bull snake. We got there at 8:30, and only two other cars were in the lot. We went counter-clockwise and had no trouble following the map until we were about 6.5 miles in. The map shows a series of four switchbacks, but the trail itself was clear cut in the opposite direction after the first one. We turned back and looked for the route AllTrails wanted us to take (because we got several "Off Route" alerts through here), but we were clearly on the trail and followed it through to the end. Overall, we loved the views, the workout we got, and the seclusion we felt (no road noise and just a few other hikers and bikers).

hiking
1 month ago

Big long trail. Not technical but not for unconditioned hikers. Some big river safe spots for a dog to dip in and cool off.

Nice hike with many views of the Colorado countryside. There are many entry points into this loop. I started from the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead. You have the option of starting on two paths right next to each other. I would recommend the counter clockwise path on the right. You will end with a beautiful mile long mostly flat trail, as opposed to ascending about 1,000 ft the last mile. Arrived at the trailhead around 9:30 and still plenty of parking. Not overly crowded but there are definitely a lot of bikes on this trail that you have to avoid. Very sunny and hot hike! This was my acclimation hike on my first full day in CO, planning to hike some 14ers later this week (flew in from the midwest). The hike is up and down and a wide range of views.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! All different kinds of terrain. My son and I went clockwise, which takes you up the steep rocks and stairs. The creek was more like a rushing river as the snow melt has added quite a lot of water. Big wide sturdy bridges over the water, so no problem. Love the sound of rushing water! The trailmaps say 7.9 miles, not 7.3 as this site says. Definitely be fueled up, bring snacks and a little extra water. One of my favorite hikes of the summer so far!

running
1 month ago

Just stellar! We ran the loop but started out from the parking lot at Josie Heath which added 2 miles total to the loop for 10 on the dot. What a fantastic run! Some highly runnable downhll sections, some tough power hiking! A little bit of everything and views for days! An epic day, indeed!

hiking
1 month ago

Love this loop! Nice little variety of views of valleys, some distant mountain peaks, water and meadows.

hiking
1 month ago

Well trafficked but honestly my favorite hike in Boulder county. Lots of different views— canyon, hills, forest, meadows. Takes you by a little stream as well. Maybe I just love it because first time I hiked it I was in good company and subsequently I like to take all my friends from out of town on this for a day hike. Little difficult to follow trail on this one quarter mile section on the back of a hill sometimes. But my favorite hike in Boulder County. Pretty easy trail not strenuous but a decently long long hike 7 1/2 miles or so

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Ran this trail early summer this year. Nice view but hard to run.

hiking
2 months ago

So much fun started at Ethal Harold Trailhead. Walked down to the river and continued onto the loop. In all took about 3 1/2 hours. My pup Meatball and I had a wonderful time.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! Bring lots of water and wear sunscreen

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! Lots of different terrain and very well kept trail. Long stretches with very little shade so bring extra water...I’m super glad that I left my pooch at home because I think she would have had heat issues. I went clockwise around the loop which took me up the stairs instead of down them which I was happy about, it’s pretty steep and some of the stairs are huge. Overall a good trek though, especially on a cool day!

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike. The waterfall and creek at the bottom are so worth it. Scenic views everywhere.

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

This was a difficult trail so if you're wanting a decent challenge this would be it. Beautiful scenery not crowded at all but I hiked it on a Tuesday. I parked at the Flagstaff parking lot for the loop and i took the trailhead by the large map post. I recommend this direction Because I noticed that in the middle to the end of a hike there are a lot of stairs heading downwards towards the river thankfully I was heading down them if you take the other trail to the left of the parking lot you will have to go up all of these stairs and boulders.

hiking
2 months ago

06/21/19 Did this beautiful trail in the morning. You could say hiking, nature walking. I did it counterclockwise. The stairs are brutal, steep, big and dangerous. But the views of the creek are amazing. They have made changes to the course of the trail for about 2 miles from the trailhead clockwise. The map needs an update. The trail is 7.86miles.

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

There’s quite a bit of open area hiking with no shade. Wear sunscreen! Beautiful views and only one small uphill scramble. The low waterfalls and creeks are a nice bonus.

hiking
3 months ago

We did this on a Friday and got to the TH at 8:15 and we were back to the car at 11:30. Like everyone else has said, this is an eight mile hike, not seven. I wonder how the trails get rated? I would put this in the moderate-ish range as opposed to difficult. We went clockwise at the Ethel Harrold trailhead and it was all easy until you get to the creek and have to make your way up. That part is straight up, but it doesn't last very long and the rest of the hike is also pretty easy. Both creeks were running high and fast. It's a beautiful hike and we only saw maybe 20 people/bikers, until the last 1/2 mile when we saw another 20. There was never a time when we passed anyone or got passed by anyone (bikers excepted.) I was happy that it was cloudy much of the day because you are exposed quite a bit of the time. I was glad to add this to my list, but I wouldn't do it again. I thought it was a bit boring in its scenery (though very pretty, it was just the same from start to finish) and it was long. Eight miles of hiking is a lot. According to my health app, I did 19,300 steps and climbed 97 floors. What I would do again is pack a lunch and hike down to the creek and back up. That would be a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked on 6/11/19 with our pup. As others have stated this trailed is longer than it says. My GPS clocked over 8 miles. We went clockwise and enjoyed it. Warning to those with dogs: sections of this trail are in the sun. We experienced some overheating issues with our dog. Probably due to a late start. We passed a group who’s dog ripped a pad. There is a section of scrambling (nothing hard) that could be rough on pads. Overall this trail was awesome. Full of flowers, water features and beautiful views.

hiking
3 months ago

Wonderful hike with tons of views, and water features. Fair share of sun and shade. GPS clocked it closer to 8 miles, but I would still only rate it a moderate. Clockwise was a good decision!

hiking
3 months ago

We started at Crescent meadows Parking lot and headed counter clockwise through the meadows spotted with wildflowers. We planned only a 4-5 mile hike down to Boulder Creek and back--so not the loop. For us, the shortened route was a great choice as we saw the highlights of meadows, woods, rushing river, and steep "staircase." I would do this hike again in a flash! Not difficult at all, but the stairs do demand a careful descent.

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