Though less than a mile from a major thoroughfare, the trails on Marshall Mesa convey the flavor of Boulder County's less developed past, allowing you and your dog to experience some solitude among the ponderosa pines. In fact, cows sometimes roam on the mesa; if your pooch is prone to chase them, it's wise to keep him leashed. This is Clover's favorite evening hike, as the views west to the foothills (and Longs Peak) provide good sunset watching.
Begin on the Community Ditch Trail, which heads left shortly after the trailhead. After a short climb this wide gravel service road parallels an irrigation ditch, usually filled during the spring and summer, where your dog can have lots of fun frolicking in the water. After 1.3 miles the trail meets up with the Marshall Mesa Trail to the right, on which wet dogs get a little under a mile to dry off before arriving back at the trailhead (and the car). As an added bonus for the literate canine, signs along the loop describe the history and geology of the mesa.
This is a popular trail with horses as well as hikers. If your dog has an aversion to equine creatures, note the number of horse trailers in the parking lot before setting out. Begin by hiking west on a service road, taking in, as the trailhead name implies, a beautiful vista of the Flatirons, the vertical rock slabs that front the foothills. After the second livestock gate, the trail narrows, winding along a ridge through fragrant ponderosa pine. It then follows a couple of switchbacks down to a small gully, where you'll come to a dog rest stop (i.e., stream). After crossing, follow the trail sign to the right (note that dogs are prohibited on the other side of the interior fence you'll pass). A good turnaround point for your hike is a bridge you'll come to just before the Community Ditch Trail, which allows your dog another respite near water. Hiking farther would bring you to a final paved portion of the trail that ends at a trailhead on Eldorado Springs Dr. (Highway 170), a total of 3.4 miles from the Flatirons Vista trailhead.
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