Walker Ranch Destination Guide
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Walker Ranch: Destination Guide

Walker Ranch is a large open space located in the foothills of Boulder County, just outside of the town of Boulder, CO. Managed as part of the Boulder County Park and Open Space system, Walker Ranch is a popular recreational destination for locals. Hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, anglers, and horseback riders regularly visit the park, especially on the weekends, making parking a hot commodity. But, with 2,888 acres of open space, visitors have an opportunity to explore a vast and impressive foothills ecosystem. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to spot a variety of birds and other wildlife, along with an abundance of wildflowers when in season. For another great Boulder County Open Space park, check out our destination guide on Hall Ranch!

Destination Guide Series: Walker Ranch

Where is Walker Ranch?

Walker Ranch is located in Boulder County, less than 10 miles from Boulder, CO. From the town of Boulder, begin on Baseline Rd., passing Chautauqua Park. Baseline Rd. will turn in to Flagstaff Rd., which is very steep and windy. You’ll soon reach the Meyers Gulch Trailhead and parking area (park here for the Josie Heath Trail or the Meyers Homestead Trail). If you plan to access the Walker Ranch Loop, keep driving down Flagstaff Rd. to reach the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead parking area.

Why Should You Visit Walker Ranch?

Walker Ranch is absolutely worth a recreational visit, particularly if you’re not far from Denver or Boulder. In addition to its sheer beauty and ecological diversity, the ranch has a rich history. Prior to Boulder County acquiring the property via multi-year purchases beginning in 1976, the ranch began as a 160-acre homestead in the 1880s, eventually expanding over the years to more than 6,000 acres. Today, the property still has original buildings from the 1800s, but the ranch house has been rebuilt, yet reflects the design of the time period. Unfortunately, the buildings are closed to the general public, though group tours of the homestead are available with advance scheduling.

Things to Do

Hiking and Trail Running

Walker Ranch’s trail system has three trails spanning nearly 3,000 acres. The Walker Ranch Loop is by far the biggest draw in the park, given its varied terrain, access to South Boulder Creek, and beautiful mountain vistas. However, the Meyers Homestead Trail provides for a shorter out-and-back option for those looking to hike less mileage. Lastly, the Josie Heath Trail serves as more of a connector trail between the Walker Ranch Loop and Meyers Homestead Trail.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is very popular along the park’s trail system. All of the trails that permit mountain biking are also open to hikers and equestrians, so plan to share the heavily-trafficked trails during busy times. Note that the park prohibits the use of E-Bikes.

The Walker Ranch Loop, a difficult and sometimes very technical 7.9-mile loop of mostly singletrack, is the gem of the open space. Mountain bikers will need to dismount during a part of the eastern portion at a section of stairs. Consider the Josie Heath and Meyers Homestead trails as less technical options or add-on trails. Check out MTB Project for more details on the park’s mountain bike trail system.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is permitted on multi-use trails throughout Walker Ranch’s trail network. Riders will share multi-use trails with mountain bikers and hikers, which can be plentiful. Also, note that while the Walker Ranch Loop is open to equestrians, the eastern portion includes a very steep staircase that is not recommended for horses.


Fishing is permitted with artificial and/or live bait in South Boulder Creek. Anglers must have a valid Colorado Fishing License. Note, there is a daily bag limit of four Rainbow Trout, with catch and release highly encouraged. For the most convenient access to South Boulder Creek, use either the Meyers Gulch Trailhead or the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead.

Colorado Fishing Licenses can be purchased in advance here. Daily or annual licenses are available for residents and non-residents.

Bird Watching

Walker Ranch is a great place to see a wide diversity of birds, with an abundance of year-round inhabitants. For instance, keep an eye out for the Belted Kingfisher, Great Horned Owl, Western Meadowlark, and raptors such as the American Kestrel and Red-Tailed Hawk. Consider printing Boulder County’s “Birds of Walker Ranch” Field Checklist to keep track of the birds one encounters during a visit.

Planning Tips

For a well-rounded and more interpretive Colorado Open Space experience, consider picking up a few naturalist guides. An easy to use field guide for plants and birds will help identify species and further add to the enjoyment of your time outdoors. In addition, there are a few Boulder-specific guides that offer more details on hiking and mountain biking trails.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you buy a product or service through an affiliate link. This revenue helps us provide readers with helpful content to plan amazing adventures.

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