A landscape of rolling grasslands and sandstone buttes at Hall Ranch provides excellent viewing opportunities for wildflowers, animals, and scenic vistas.
3.7 miles – Difficult
Horses permitted but not recommended
4.7 miles – Moderate/Difficult
2.2 miles – Moderate/Difficult
1.0 miles – Moderate
|Button Rock Trail
2.0 miles – Moderate
- Several picnic tables located near trailhead.
- 24-person group shelter located near trailhead available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Located near the trailhead.
- Trailhead can accommodate 64 cars and 3 horse trailers.
Keep in Mind
- Dogs are not allowed due to wildlife concerns.
- Some areas are closed to the public to protect critical wildlife habitat.
- Some old dirt roads exist on the property – please stay on designated trails.
- Equestrian use is not recommended on the Bitterbrush Trail due to inadequate footing on exposed rocks. Please use the Nighthawk Trail.
Documents & Plans
Forestry Project at Hall Ranch
A forest restoration project will begin in May of 2019 and will occur at a location known as Project Area 7 Unit 5 which is located east of the historic Nelson house within the eastern bounds of the Nelson Trail Loop. The project is being completed by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Fire Crew with assistance from the Boulder County Youth Corps. The goal is to finish the project by late summer in order to fully utilize the assistance of youth corps. Slash material will be piled for future pile burning, and firewood sized material will be decked for future firewood sales.
The objective of the project is to complete a forest restoration treatment on approximately 14 acres. This forest restoration treatment is seeking to mimic the historic forest structure by cutting trees across diameter classes to manipulate both trees per acre and basal area. The resulting historic structure increases the resilience of the forest to wildfire and other disturbances. This project builds on forest restoration projects implemented at Hall Ranch since 2008 by completing an untreated unit that lies in the middle of three completed project areas. All these treatments are part of the Parks & Open Space’s Forestry-Fire Five-year Work Plan and are part of an integrated cycle of management including forest treatment and prescribed fire. The project has two phases: mechanical treatment and prescribed fire. The mechanical treatment reduces forest density and sets the groundwork to use prescribed fire in a safer and more effective way. Prescribed fire reintroduces the ecological process in which this ecosystem evolved and reduces the potential fire severity and need for further mechanical treatment. No date has been set for prescribed fire operations.
Contact Stefan Reinold for more information.
Along Colorado’s Front Range the sweeping grasslands of the Great Plains rise to meet the rugged peaks of the southern Rocky Mountains. Where they meet we find the Foothills—a zone of geological and biological transition. Foothills ecosystems, such as the one that makes up the 3,899 acres of Hall Ranch, are made up of varied landforms such as cliffs, canyons, hills, and meadows. Plant communities ranging from grasslands to shrublands to forests provide a variety of habitats for a diversity of animals.
- Black bear
- Black-tailed prairie dog
- Deer mouse
- Little brown bat
- Meadow vole
- Mountain (Nuttall’s) cottontail
- Mountain lion
- Mule deer
- Red fox
- Rock squirrel
- American crow
- American kestrel
- American robin
- Black-billed magpie
- Black-capped chickadee
- Blue grosbeak
- Broad-tailed hummingbird
- Brown-headed cowbird
- Canyon wren
- Chipping sparrow
- Common nighthawk
- Common raven
- Downy woodpecker
- Golden eagle
- Green-tailed towee
- Hairy woodpecker
- Mountain bluebird
- Mountain chickadee
- McGillivray’s warbler
- Northern flicker
- Prairie falcon
- Pygmy nuthatch
- Red-tailed hawk
- Rufous-sided (spotted) towee
- Solitary vireo
- Steller’s jay
- Turkey vulture
- Townsend’s solitaire
- Violet-green swallow
- Virginia’s warbler
- Western bluebird
- Western meadowlark
- Western wood-pewee
- White-breasted nuthatch
- Yellow warbler – nesting
- Yellow-rumpled warbler
- Yellow-breasted chat
- Prairie rattlesnake
- Catchfly (silene noctiflora)
- Daisy fleabane (Erigeron spp)
- Marbleseed (Onosmodium molle)
- Mouse ear chickweed Cerastium spp)
- Prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos)
- Rough white aster (Virgulus falcatus)
- Wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)
- Cinquefoil (Drymocallis spp, Potentilla spp)
- Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
- Evening primrose (Oenothera villosa)
- Goldenrod (Solidago spp)
- Golden banner (Thermopsis divaricarpa)
- Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
- Hairy false golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)
- Little sunflower (Helianthus pumilus)
- Prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)
- Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)
- Sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum)
- Winged buckwheat (Pterogonum aliatum)
- Fringed silver sage (Artemisia frigida)
- Prairie sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)
Orange & Red Wildflowers
- Prickly pear (Opuntia polyacantha)
Purple & Blue Wildflowers
- Beebalm or horsemint (Monarda fistulosa)
- Blue flax (Adenolinum lewisii)
- Common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
- Fleabane (Erigeron sp)
- Gayfeather (Liatris punctuta)
- One-sided penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus)
- Arkansas rose
- Common juniper
- Mountain mahogany
- Wild rose
- Wild tarragon
- Douglas fir
- Ponderosa pine
- Rocky Mountain juniper
At Hall Ranch, dramatic tilted rock formations show where the Great Plains meet the Southern Rocky Mountains. Along the Bitterbrush Trail are spectacular views of Hat Rock and Indian Lookout Mountain. These massive ridges expose the Fountain, Lyons, and Ingleside Formations.
The Lyons Formation, a salmon-colored rock, can be seen in buildings on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. The western section of the property is dominated by formations created 1.3 to 1.7 billion years ago when magma far below the earth’s surface cooled and solidified before being subjected to the forces of pressure, uplift, erosion, and burial. The most recent period of mountain building began approximately nine million years ago. Since then, erosion has been the geologic force sculpting the landscape.
From Mountainside to University
A quarry can be seen along Hall Ranch’s eastern side. Stones from here were used in many of the University of Colorado Boulder’s buildings, giving it its signature flagstone look.
Hall Ranch as Home
Originally, the property that is now Hall Ranch was home to Arapaho and Cheyenne Indian tribes. In the 19th and 20th centuries, more than 20 different Anglo families homesteaded here. From the mid 1940s to 1993, Hallyn and June Hall owned and operated the ranch.
The Nelson House, located along the Nelson Loop Trail, is the remnants of an old homestead from the early 20th century.
In 1993 and 1994, Boulder County Parks and Open space acquired Hall Ranch.