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Betasso Preserve: Destination Guide

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

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.

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 JaysDowny 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!

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.

Route Recommendation

Mountain Biking

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

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.

Planning Tips

Recommended Books

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.

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