Outdoors: Hiking Forsythe Canyon Trail at Gross Reservoir

June 12 2012, 10:02 AM

Why we love it: It’s a perfect hike for out-of-town visitors who won’t be joining you on your 14er quest this summer, but still want to get out of town and into the woods. 

When to go: Any time you want a break from the crowds at Chautauqua or Mt. Sanitas in Boulder.

Quick tip: After your hike, treat yourselves to an ice cream cone or cold drink in nearby Nederland.

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If you’re looking for a nice little foothills excursion that won’t swallow up your entire day or exhaust you, the 2.8-mile roundtrip out-and-back Forsythe Canyon Trail west of Boulder is a good bet. From the trailhead, which is marked by a gate at the parking area, you’ll slowly descend (note: this trail’s elevation change is -260 feet) for about a quarter mile through grassy meadows dotted with aspens before meeting up with a stream. The trail mirrors the waterway for another .75 miles. The stream occasionally erupts into some cascades and minor falls as it meanders through the canyon to culminate with a pleasant 20-foot waterfall.

This is where the well-marked trail ends, but if you’re in the mood for adventure, you can make your way up and over the rocks and scramble down the backside of the falls. The path then stretches for less than a quarter mile to the inlet of Gross Reservoir (Note: The Res is managed by Denver Water. Translation: No swimming.) The shoreline is rocky, but depending on water levels, there may be a sandy beach in some spots.

Getting there: From U.S. 36 in Boulder, turn left on Canyon Boulevard (CO 119). At Ninth Street, continue following Canyon west for 4.7 more miles, and turn left onto Magnolia Road (CR-132). Drive 6.6 miles and turn left onto CR-68. Follow for two miles to the trailhead parking area on your right.