Betasso Preserve is a beautiful foothills park in Boulder County, only minutes away from downtown Boulder, Colorado. Managed as part of the Boulder County Park and Open Space system, Betasso Preserve is extremely popular among hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, equestrians, and picnickers. Indeed, this park can become quite busy on the weekends, so an early arrival is always recommended to have a bit more space.
With approximately nine miles of trails over 1,181 acres, Betasso Preserve visitors are treated to splendid mountain vistas and foothills scenery, abundant wildlife, and an expansive open space surprisingly close to town. For hikers, trail runners, and horseback riders, we recommend a visit to Betasso Preserve on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when mountain bikes are not permitted on most trails. Of course, Boulder County has a ton of other great recreational spots beyond Betasso Preserve — so check out our guides to Walker Ranch and Hall Ranch for more ideas.
DESTINATION GUIDE SERIES: Betasso Preserve
Why Should You Visit Betasso Preserve?
Betasso Preserve has a fairly extensive history — most notably dating back to the 1910’s when the area was homesteaded by the Blanchard family. The Betasso family eventually acquired much of the land here and Boulder County purchased the property for preservation purposes in the 1970s. Boulder County later added adjacent parcels of land through subsequent acquisitions, including the 391-acre Benjamin Property, the 19.5-acre Tinsley Property, and other smaller properties. Today, Betasso Preserve is an expansive 1,181 acre open space enjoyed year-round by many in the nearby Boulder/Denver metropolitan area.
As rich as the property’s history is, the natural landscape and recreational opportunities are what truly shines at Betasso Preserve. Outstanding mountain views, an incredibly diverse array of plants and wildlife, and approximately nine miles of trails linking access points on Boulder Canyon Dr. and Fourmile Canyon Dr. are just a few reasons for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians to visit.
With elevations ranging from 6,900ft. to 7,700ft., visitors will traverse through open meadow grasslands and woodlands of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. In addition, among the wildlife in Betasso Preserve, it’s common to see Stellar’s Jays, Downy Woodpeckers, and the phenomenal Abert’s Squirrel. There’s so much nature to enjoy at Betasso Preserve, it’s hard to believe its proximity to downtown Boulder!
Where is Betasso Preserve?
Betasso Preserve is located in Boulder County, just a short drive from downtown Boulder, Colorado. This beautiful foothills park is adjacent to Boulder Canyon Dr. and Fourmile Canyon Dr., and is best accessed via Betasso Rd. from Sugarloaf Rd. Betasso Preserve can also be accessed via link trails from Fourmile Canyon Dr. and Boulder Canyon Dr., but parking is better at the main trailhead area off of Betasso Rd.
Things to Do
Hiking and Trail Running
Betasso Preserve’s trail system encompasses nine miles of trail spanning 1,181 open space acres. With trail elevations ranging anywhere between 5,900ft. to 7,700ft., hikers and trail runners will enjoy open meadows to dense pine and fir woodlands along steeper terrain. Almost all of the park’s trails are designated as multi-use, so hikers and trail runners will share this popular area with mountain bikers and equestrians. Accordingly, park management recommends pedestrians visit Betasso Preserve on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the trails are closed to mountain bikes.
The Canyon Loop is a popular multi-use loop trail that is easily accessible from Betasso Preserve’s main trailhead parking area, the Betasso Link, and the Fourmile Link. At 3.3 miles in loop length, the Canyon Loop is a pleasant hike, with modest elevation gain and excellent views of open meadows, Sugarloaf Mountain, Green Mountain, and nearby foothills. Although you can hike the Canyon Loop in either direction, we prefer hiking clockwise to follow the mountain bike traffic pattern. In addition, if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, consider connecting with the 2.4 mile Benjamin Loop via the Loop Link to extend your outing.
Length: 3.3 miles (loop); 429 ft. elevation gain
The Benjamin Loop is the second longest trail in Betasso Preserve and is accessible via the Fourmile Link from Fourmile Canyon Dr. However, most trail visitors typically connect with the Benjamin Loop via the Loop Link from the Canyon Loop, making for a longer dual loop hike. At 2.4 miles in length, the Benjamin Loop has a narrower and steeper trail grade in some sections and is somewhat more secluded. The eastern portion of the trail does happen to be close to Fourmile Canyon Dr., but the western portion is adjacent to an inaccessible Habitat Conservation Area. Consider following a counter-clockwise direction on the Benjamin Loop, which is the required direction for mountain bikers.
Length: 2.4 miles (loop); 291 ft. elevation gain
The Betasso Link Trail is a fairly steep 1.3 mile link trail from Boulder Canyon Dr. This trail links directly to the Canyon Loop and sees a lot of mountain bike use from bikers riding from downtown Boulder. Note that the Betasso Link Trail is excluded from the park’s prohibition of bikes on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Length: 1.3 miles (one-way); 604 ft. elevation gain
The Loop Link is aptly named for its linkage between the Canyon Loop and the Benjamin Loop trails. At .8 miles in one-way length, use the Loop Link to connect the two loops for an extended outing in Betasso Preserve.
Length: 0.8 mile (one-way); 121 ft. elevation gain
The Fourmile Link is a .8 mile link trail from Fourmile Canyon Dr. that crosses Fourmile Creek. Stairs and steep terrain make this trail a modest challenge. Use the Fourmile Link to synch up with the Benjamin Loop.
Length: 0.8 miles (one-way); 176 ft. elevation gain
The Blanchard Trail is a short .3 mile trail that begins at the Betasso Preserve main trailhead area and leads to the Blanchard Cabin. The Blanchard family originally homesteaded this area prior to being purchased by Steve Betasso, so this cabin has historic significance to Betasso Preserve. The trail consists of 177 steps that lead to the cabin, making the trail inaccessible to bikes and equestrians.
Length: 0.3 miles (one-way)
Bummer’s Rock Trail
The Bummer’s Rock Trail is a fairly easy .3 mile out-and-back trail that leads to the top of Bummer’s Rock. Here you’ll have decent views of the surrounding foothills. The trailhead for Bummer’s Rock has its own parking area, which also accommodates horse trailers.
Use: Multi-Use (hiking/equestrians only)
Length: 0.3 miles (one-way)
Betasso Preserve’s trails (with the exception of Betasso Link) are closed to mountain bikes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. E-Bikes are not permitted.
On all other days of the week, mountain biking is permitted along designated trails (no bikes on Bummer’s Rock Trail or Blanchard Trail). Do note, that because Betasso Preserve’s trails are multi-use and see heavy foot and equestrian traffic, the park strictly enforces directional patterns for mountain bikes. Please watch for signs indicating which direction to adhere to on the trails. Check out MTB Project for more details and recommended routes.
Horseback riding is permitted on multi-use trails throughout Betasso Preserve’s trail network, with the exception of the Blanchard Trail. Equestrians will share multi-use trails with mountain bikers and pedestrians. However, because Betasso Preserve is closed to mountain biking on Wednesdays and Saturdays each week, park management recommends equestrians visit on these days to enjoy additional trail space.
Fees and Regulations
- Entrance Fees: None.
- Park Hours: Daily; sunrise to sunset.
- Pets: Permitted; on leash.
- Bikes: Permitted; on designated trails. No bikes on Wed. and Sat., except on Betasso Link.
- Camping: Not permitted.
- Betasso Preserve has three parking areas off of Betasso Rd., with a total of 44 spots across all lots. The main trailhead parking area has a restroom and picnic area, with direct access to the Canyon Loop. If the main trailhead lot is full, further up Betasso Rd. is an overflow lot with a spur trail to the Canyon Loop. Finally, there is also parking at nearby Bummer’s Rock, which accommodates horse trailers.
- Always check the weather forecast before venturing into wilderness. Betasso Preserve ranges between 5,900ft. to 7,700ft. in elevation and is typically accessible year-round.
For a well-rounded interpretive experience of Colorado trails and ecosystems, we recommend picking up a few naturalist guides. An easy to use field guide for plants and birds will help identify species and add to the enjoyment of your time outdoors. In addition, a Boulder-specific guide on hiking trails is useful if you intend to visit other parks in Boulder County.
- Boulder Hiking Trails: The Best of the Plains, Foothills, and Mountains
- Plants of the Rocky Mountains
- Sibley Birds West: Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
- American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of Colorado
- Roadside Geology of Colorado
- Boulder, Golden (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)
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