Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a cultural landscape, Walker Ranch also offers a diverse array of ecosystems to explore.
COVID-19 Safety Information
Starting May 9, face coverings are required at trailheads, when passing other visitors, and when six feet of distancing cannot be maintained. See the Public Health Order for more information.
Please visit in groups of four or fewer and stay at least six feet away from people who are not from the same household.
Park in designated spaces only and follow trail directional arrows. Rangers are issuing fines for violations.
Consider using neighborhood trails rather than driving to a trailhead.
Parks and trails are generally less crowded in the early morning.
No gatherings are permitted at this time. Most restrooms remain open, but some are closed. Restrooms are cleaned daily.
|Walker Ranch Loop
7.9 miles – Moderate
Equestrians are discouraged from using the eastern leg due to extremely steep staircase conditions
|Josie Heath Trail
(formerly Walker Ranch Link)
1.1 miles – Easy
|Meyers Homestead Trail
2.5 miles – Moderate
- Ethel Harrold Trailhead can accommodate 18 cars.
- Meyers Gulch Trailhead can accommodate 39 cars and 2 horse trailers.
- Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead can accommodate 28 cars.
- Several picnic tables located near each trailhead.
- Large group shelter located at Meyers Gulch Trailhead.
- Located at all three trailheads.
- Walker Ranch Loop includes a 500-foot cliff-like section of stone steps that is not recommended for horses.
Documents, Field Guides & Plans
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 comprises the 2,880 acres of Walker Ranch, provide a variety of habitats for a rich diversity of wildlife.
- Abert’s squirrel
- Black bear
- Golden-mantled ground squirrel
- Least chipmunk
- Mountain cottontail
- Mountain lion
- Mule deer
- Northern pocket gopher
- Red fox
- Western terrestrial garter snake
- Rainbow trout
- Blazing star (Liatris punctata)
- Fleabane (Erigeron spp)
- Nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
- Yarrow (Achillea lanulosa)
- Blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata)
- Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
- Hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)
- Heart-leaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia)
- Western wallflower (Erysimum asperum)
- Whiskbroom parsley (Harbouris trachypleura)
Orange & Red Wildflowers
- Indian paintbrush (Castilleja spp)
- Mountain ball cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii)
- Wild geranium (Geranium caespitosum)
- Fleabane (Erigeron spp)
Purple & Blue Wildflowers
- Horsemint (Monarda fistulosa)
- Chiming bells or bluebells (Mertensia spp)
- Harebells ( Campanula rotundifolia)
- Lambert’s locoweed or Colorado locoweed (Oxytropis lambertii)
- Western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya)
- Boulder raspberry
- Common chockecherry
- Oregon holly grape
- Mountain mahogany
- Douglas fir
- Narrowleaf cottonwood
- Ponderosa pine
- Rocky Mountain juniper
Walker Ranch is underlain by one of the oldest rock types in Boulder County: Boulder Creek granodiorite, dated at about 1.7 billion years old. This rock formed from molten material that cooled and hardened very slowly beneath the earth’s surface, and then was forced upward, probably during ancient periods of mountain building.
Over time, these ancient mountains slowly eroded away, exposing the granodiorite. Around 65 million years ago, uplift of the Rocky Mountains you see today began, forming the great peaks and creating the area’s rich mineral deposits.
Since the great Rocky Mountain uplift, erosion has been the dominant force sculpting Walker Ranch, as it continues to carve the landscape.
Settler James Walker, from Missouri, moved to Boulder in 1869. He and his wife Phoebe filed a homestead claim for 160 acres in 1882. The next year, he moved his wife and young son into the newly built ranch house.
Over the next 80 years, the Walker family amassed over 6,000 acres. When the property was sold in 1959, it was one of the largest cattle ranches in this region of Colorado.
Walker Ranch Homestead
The homestead consists of original buildings from the 1880s, except a newly reconstructed ranch house. The original ranch house burned to the ground in 1992 and has since been rebuilt using environmentally friendly techniques while remaining faithful to 1880s architecture, design, and materials. The homestead is closed to the public, but group tours may be scheduled by contacting Sheryl Kippen at 303-776-8848.
In 2000, the Walker Ranch/Eldorado Wildland Fire burned through 1,062 acres and lasted five days. Remnants of this fire can be seen today in the form of burned trees that are still standing.