Get Outside! Hiking Hall Ranch

Open Space Park Is A Pleasant Surprise

Basics: Distance: 9.75 miles Elevation Gain: Approx. 1,600 feet with ups and downs Location: Hall Ranch, near Lyons Dogs: Not allowed Trailhead: 2 parking lots, bathrooms, signs Hiking partners: Members of the Denver Trail Heads meetup group Entrance fee: none

Hall Ranch is a pleasant surprise. I enjoy hiking on the Front Range in the winter, but most of the trails are not my favorites. I prefer to hike in the forest to alpine lakes and waterfalls. But Hall Ranch is a Front Range treat.

Hall Ranch has a reputation as a biker haven with limited parking on the weekends. I don't mind bikers, so I thought I would give it a shot on a warm spring weekend.

There are two parking lots just off Highway 7, about 1.5 miles from Lyons. If you're meeting friends, make sure you specify if you're going to meet at the upper or lower lot. The bathrooms are at the upper lot.

We took the Bitterbrush Trail to the Nelson Loop. The Bitterbrush Trail was busy with bikers, hikers and even horses. One of the first landmarks we passed was what looked like an intact wooden homestead off the left side of the trail.

As we hiked, we enjoyed the views. Hall Ranch has a variety of terrain: rolling hills, mountain views and canyons.

During the first two miles we gained about 650 feet in elevation. While the brochure says hikers will gain 680 feet on the 3.7 mile trail, it doesn't mention there are a lot of ups and downs. At the two mile mark, we found a bench next to a prairie dog town. A good spot for a break and a snack.

About three miles into the hike, we really started to hike in the trees. We also spotted our first group of what would be several groups of deer. Two of the deer were walking, the other was enjoying a rest on the ground in the trees. We watched them for awhile and then started again.

3.75 miles from the trailhead we came to the Nelson Loop. You can go right or left. We took the left turn toward the Nelson Ranch House. As you hike in this area, you may occasionally catch a glimpse of two beautiful mountain peaks. That's Mount Meeker and Long's Peak in the distance.

The loop area was originally known as Antelope Park. It was home to Arapaho and Cheyenne Indian tribes. After the Homestead Act of 1862, Angelo settlers moved in. Englishman Richard Clark homesteaded here in 1890. Nelson Ranch House at Hall Ranch

About a half mile from the trail split, you'll spot the Nelson Ranch House. A sign at the property said the house was built around 1918 by the Moody family. The Nelsons bought the land in 1921. They lived there for 21 years then sold it to the Halls. The Halls had a working ranch for 50 years, then sold it to Boulder County.

The ranch complex had the house, a root cellar, cement stave silo, corral and a spring. We used some rocks next to the house as a picnic spot. As we enjoyed the view I noticed something next to another group of rocks. A short walk over and I found what looked like the remains of a 1920s Model T. Car found near Nelson Ranch House

This is a good spot to explore. As I walked around I found the remnants of the farm scattered around the house and the area.

After exploring and a lunch break, we headed back to the trail. From here we continued on the Nelson Loop about a quarter mile to the Nighthawk Trail junction. The Nighthawk Trail is hikers and horses only. We decided to take this trail back since it's about the same distance and it would give us a loop hike. The bad news? It's not all downhill from here. The Nighthawk Trail had some spots where it went up and down. It was mostly down.

While 10 miles was a long hike for early Spring, it was definitely worth the distance to explore Hall Ranch. I found this to be a scenic place and I enjoyed exploring around the homestead.

For maps and trail information, visit the Boulder Open Space Web site. I welcome your questions, comments and hiking trail suggestions, just email me: deb_stanley@kmgh.com.

Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star) Boulder: Caribou Ranch*, Mallory Cave*, Heil Valley Ranch* Forsythe Canyon*, South Boulder Peak*, The Boulder Flatirons*, Walker Ranch*, Bear Peak*, Rabbit Mountain*, Bald Mountain*, Betasso Preserve*, Wonderland Lake*,Marshall Mesa*,Eldorado Canyon State Park*, Royal Arch*, South Mesa Trail*, South Boulder Trailhead* Golden area: Forgotten Valley, Chimney Gulch*, Apex Park* Jefferson County: Mt. Falcon*, Elk Meadow* I-70 area: Herman Gulch, Chicago Lakes, Chief Mountain Rocky Mountain National Park: Granite Falls, Twin Sisters, Bierstadt Lake, Chasm Lake, Lulu City & Little Yellowstone, The Loch, Andrew's Glacier, Sandbeach Lake Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness: King, Bob & Betty Lakes, Forest Lakes, Arapaho Lakes, Mitchell & Blue Lakes, James Peak Area, Heart Lake Northern Colorado: Homestead Meadows, Devil's Backbone*, Lake Agnes Summit & Eagle Counties: Booth Falls, Missouri Lakes, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls Grand County: St Louis Lake, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby Ranch Other: Exploring Fulford Cave, Our Favorite Hikes, Our Favorite Bike Rides