Happy Trails – Doudy Draw

By Suzanne Webel

They did it! They finally did it! Thanks, Open Space and Mountain Parks!

Lest anyone think that the only news I ever report is bad news, here’s some great news: the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks has just expanded, and reopened, both trailheads at Doudy Draw and Flatirons Vista – and they now contain designated horse trailer parking. Ta da!

These parking areas are the result of many years of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) negotiating with OSMP over equestrian access to some of our favorite habitat: the Eldorado Mountain/Doudy Draw area south of Boulder. This area has provided, for me, countless hours of wonderful riding both on the existing trails and off them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the solitary experience of exploring the old haunts of miners and ranchers, railroad workers and road builders, dinosaurs and bears.

Like almost everything else, the world at Doudy Draw has changed.   Gone is the old trail at the bottom of the valley – too close to the babbling brook, too close to the bushes where a variety of birds chirp merrily year round – gotta protect some bushes and some birds. Gone is the fun access to the Lindsay Pond, the old railroad watering hole where our horses could get a much-needed drink – gotta protect some frogs. Gone is the privilege of riding off-trail through meadows and woods on Spring Brook Mesa, Bull Gulch, and the Sound of Music Saddle – gotta protect, well, something up there. Gone is the old bridge across the Denver Water Canal, right near the huge, dangerous siphon where I almost “lost” my first water-loving dog. And gone is the solitude that used to make this special place at Boulder’s doorstep feel as if it was far from the crush of humanity.

In their place…. Lots of mountain bikers, dog walkers, people with baby joggers, and potentially even paragliders. A real designated trail system, with stacked loops so you can choose your structured recreational adventure. Two great new parking lots, complete with kiosks and rest rooms. New loop trails southwest of Flatirons Vista TH. A new alignment for the Doudy Draw Trail, up on the west hillside in a more sustainable location. A new loop trail around Spring Brook Mesa with the same drop-dead views of the Flatirons and the Boulder Valley. A new, safer bridge across the Canal, far from the siphon. A new pedestrian-equestrian-only trail where the Sound of Music trail used to be, only now it’s called Goshawk Ridge — and it is still very, very beautiful.

Is the brave new world of Doudy Draw wonderful? You bet. I am absolutely serious in my appreciation of the effort OSMP went through to make this area the best recreational mecca in Boulder.

Am I nostalgic for the good old days of Doudy Draw? You bet.

Total Distance: Total mileage 14.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Check the ever-changing regulations at www.osmp.org
Jurisdiction: City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
County:  Boulder
Maps: Topos are obsolete. Use map in kiosk or this one.