Hiking the Dowdy Draw – Spring Brook – Goshawk Ridge Loop
I wanted to explore some of the many trails that South Boulder has to offer, so I decided to go on this multi-loop trail.
The hike is about 8 miles, starting at the Dowdy Draw Trailhead. From Dowdy Draw, you turn right and add the Spring Brook Loop and a loop comprised of Goshawk Ridge Trail, Fowler Trail, and Spring Brook Loop North Trail. The Goshawk Ridge Trail portion of the hike goes through Eldorado Springs State Park territory. It’s a relatively easy hike with only about 1,000 ft elevation gain.
Mountain bikes frequent the Dowdy Draw Trail as well as Spring Brook Loop, but Goshawk Ridge Trail is mountain bike-free.
Map at the entrance –
Dowdy Draw Trail
You start along Dowdy Draw Trail and climb a gentle slope.
And 0.3 miles from the trailhead you will find a picnic area and restrooms –
The scenery is open with some rolling hills –
If you look back at the way you came, you will start to see lovely vistas of the Front Range mountains and the Flatirons.
Connecting to the Loops
Although the Dowdy Draw Trail is about 2.2 miles long, you turn off the Dowdy Draw Trail at mile 1.2 to the right onto a connector trail that will lead you to the Spring Brook Loop.
Spring Brook Loop South Trail
After 0.2 miles on the connector trail, you will reach the point where you have to decide which way you want to go on the Spring Brook Loop. I decided to go clockwise, but I think if you go counter-clockwise it’s also a good choice.
After turning left to hike the loop clockwise, you climb the trail in a small valley with trees.
You start to see more sweeping views of the nearby hills –
And then you hike in the forest for a while.
Connecting to Goshawk Ridge Trail
At about mile 2.5 you reach the top of the Spring Brook Loop. There is a short connecting trail up to Goshawk Ridge Trail that is unnamed.
Goshawk Ridge Trail
Goshawk Ridge Trail was my favorite part of the whole hike. It provided the best scenery and no bikes are allowed on this portion of the trail, adding to the solitude.
If you go clockwise on this second loop as well, to get to the trail, you first have to cross this bridge –
At the beginning of the trail is this sign educating visitors about the namesake for the trail, the northern goshawks –
Soon after starting the trail, you pass through a lovely meadow with many wildflowers.
Queen Anne’s Lace –
Next, you walk uphill through a forest for a while.
The trail turns to make the loop and you start to get views of the rocky mountains nearby.
One of my favorite parts on this trail was when it came out into this meadow with gorgeous views of the mountains –
As you head down, the view of the sharp rocks/mountains of Eldorado Canyon become more prominent –
And even more prominent –
At about mile 4.3, you turn onto the Fowler trail for a bit, passing through a small rock canyon.
After 0.5 miles, Fowler Trail connects back with the Spring Brook Loop. For some reason, the Spring Brook Loop North Trail extends into this second, further loop.
Spring Brook Loop North Trail
This part of the trail was relatively flat.
One of the most interesting features you can see close-up on the Spring Brook North Trail is the ripple marks in Dakota sandstone. The reason that it looks like ripples is because what you see was actually made by ripples!
According to the City of Boulder website – “A huge, inland sea began to move into the Boulder area approximately 135 million years ago, and its sandy beaches hardened to form the Dakota sandstone. Look for undulating ripple marks “frozen” in the rock, a sure sign that Boulder was once coastal property…The Dakota sandstone forms the first ridge that you encounter west of Boulder, and can be traced all the way from Colorado Springs north to the Wyoming border.”
Spring Brook Loop North Trail – Return Loop
The Spring Brook North Loop connects back to the Spring Brook Loop at the bridge area.
On the return loop you pass through a grassy field with great views of the mountains again, although they are a bit further away –
The trail then loops back down to the junction with the connector trail.
And you finish your hike with wide open grassy views again.
Recommended as a Moderate Hike
Although the Dowdy Draw – Spring Brook – Goshawk Ridge Loop is 8 miles long, it is on the easy side of moderate to hike. Along the way you will see varied scenery, including some great views of Eldorado Canyon, and the Front Range mountains. If you’re looking to see some of the sights in South Boulder, this trail could be a good option.