Hiking Joder Ranch
Joder Ranch occupies 335 acres of rolling green hills and Ponderosa Pine forest just off of Highway 36 to the north of Boulder and is managed by the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). From North Boulder it’s about a 6-minute drive.
The ranch currently has only one trail that is approximately 2 miles long in one direction called the “Interim Joder Trail” because a study is currently being done by OSMP that will determine the future for trails in the Ranch.
There is no turning lane on Highway 36 to turn into the parking area for Joder Ranch. Parking spaces are limited, but from my experience visiting on a weekday, there were not too many visitors.
Hiking Interim Joder Trail
The trail is easy, with a few sections of uneven terrain going uphill. Overall, there was only 570 ft in elevation gain over approximately 4 miles out-and-back.
You start out on a wide dirt road with a slight incline –
As you climb up, you start to see Joder Reservoir –
And lovely rolling green hills –
The trail keeps climbing, passing a few houses and farming facilities –
As the trail climbs up a bend…
You see this beautiful meadow with Ponderosa Pines –
After cresting the hill, the trail starts heading down, and you begin to see some mountains to the right –
Going downhill, there is a relatively narrow trail –
And along this part of the trail, you can see nice views of the mountains to the north –
Same mountain view, but from the lowest part in the valley –
From the Middle of the Trail
After just over a mile, you walk through a forest of Ponderosa Pines, which provides some shade –
At around mile 1.6 the trail comes out into a grassy meadow.
The day I visited there was this interesting spiral-shaped cloud visible –
The meadow trail is quite narrow.
This was tricky because there were no rocks or other areas to step on when mountain bikes passed (and there were at least 5 that passed me). I had to step onto the grass and plants, which wasn’t great for the plants and made me nervous I might step onto a creature hidden in the grass such as a snake.
At the End of the Trail
Near the end of the trail is a ranch. You can see a horse in a corral to the left –
The view from the end of the trail, looking back at the trail –
The view from the end of the trail, looking at the road and a cliff –
Parking is not allowed at this end of the trail, but there appears to be a parking area if you cross Lefthand Canyon Drive and walk a little. However, it’s not visible from the end of the Interim Joder Trail.
The view of the meadow and hills was different on the way back, providing lovely views –
Going back uphill, the mountain view was picturesque, especially dappled with sunlight and clouds –
The last part of the trail was not as interesting on the way down, and I found myself running at some points.
I did almost take a wrong turn at the final junction, so I’d note it’s important to follow the trail arrow signs!
The final stretch to the parking lot –
Wildflowers on the Hike
My favorite part of hiking at Joder Ranch was the wildflowers.
Prairie Coneflower, Mexican Hat, or Ratibida columnifera, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae). A common native summer wildflower, it blooms in grasslands and the foothills throughout most of the U.S.
Sulfur Flower, or Eriogonum umbellatum, is a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). A common native plant that grows from spring through fall, they are found in a variety of habitats such as sunny areas, rock ledges, scree, barrens, and dry slopes. They grow throughout the Rockies and the West.
Plains Pricklypear, or Opuntia polyacantha, is a member of the Cactus Family (Cactaceae). A native cactus, it is common and grows throughout the West in dry, sandy, soils in the sun.
I’ve seen these flat, round cactus plants growing on various trails for a few months now. It’s great to see them finally blooming in June.
Blanketflower, or Gaillardia aristata, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae). A native wildflower, it grows throughout the western U.S., northern U.S. states, and Canada in open woodlands, meadows, and roadsides. It can be fully yellow or mixed with red, as you see here.
Field Bindweed, or Convolvulus arvensis, is a member of the Morning-Glory Family (Convolvulaceae). A non-native and invasive wildflower, it grows throughout the U.S. They can be pure white or mixed white and pink.
Miner’s Candle, or Oreocarya virgata, is a member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae). A native wildflower, it only grows in Wyoming and Colorado, and is largely restricted to slopes on the Front Range in Colorado. A biennial plant, during its first year it only has hairy leaves, and in its second year it blooms little white flowers.
Narrow Leaf Yucca
Narrow Leaf Yucca, or Yucca angustissima, is a member of the Asparagus Family (Asparagaceae). A native plant, it grows throughout the American Southwest on dry slopes and in disturbed areas from spring to summer.
They are only starting to bloom now in late June this year.
Soapweed Yucca, or Yucca glauca, is a member of the Asparagus Family (Asparagaceae). A native plant, it grows throughout the central and mountain states of the U.S., and all the way up into Canada. It favors dry slopes and in disturbed areas from spring to summer.
These Yucca plants are also only starting to flower in late June this year.
Pink/ Purple Wildflowers
Musk Thistle, Nodding Plumeless Thistle, or Carduus nutans, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae). An introduced and invasive plant, it grows throughout most of North America, favoring meadows, roadsides, and open fields.
Pineywoods Geranium or Geranium caespitosum, is a member of the Geranium Family (Geraniaceae). A native wildflower, it grows throughout the southwestern U.S. in coniferous forests and adjacent meadows in sun to part shade.
Recommended as a Wildflower Hike
Interim Joder Trail is a pleasant hike with some nice views, but the wildflowers were definitely the highlight of the hike. If you are a fan of wildflowers, I would recommend taking a short hike along this trail.
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