Boulder – Dowdy Draw / Spring Brook / Goshawk Ridge Loop

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

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 map

Dowdy Draw Trail

You start along Dowdy Draw Trail and climb a gentle slope.

Dowdy Draw Trail

And 0.3 miles from the trailhead you will find a picnic area and restrooms –

Dowdy Draw Trail picnic area

The scenery is open with some rolling hills –

Dowdy Draw Trail

If you look back at the way you came, you will start to see lovely vistas of the Front Range mountains and the Flatirons.

Dowdy Draw Trail

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.

Dowdy Draw Trail to Spring Brook Loop connection

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.

Spring Brook Loop connection

After turning left to hike the loop clockwise, you climb the trail in a small valley with trees.

Spring Brook Loop South Trail

You start to see more sweeping views of the nearby hills –

Spring Brook Loop South Trail

And then you hike in the forest for a while.

Spring Brook Loop South Trail

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.

Spring Brook Loop to Goshawk Ridge Trail connection

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 –

Goshawk Ridge Trail

At the beginning of the trail is this sign educating visitors about the namesake for the trail, the northern goshawks –

Northern Goshawks

Soon after starting the trail, you pass through a lovely meadow with many wildflowers.

Goshawk Ridge Trail

Queen Anne’s Lace –

Queen Anne's Lace

Next, you walk uphill through a forest for a while.

Goshawk Ridge Trail

The trail turns to make the loop and you start to get views of the rocky mountains nearby.

Goshawk Ridge Trail

One of my favorite parts on this trail was when it came out into this meadow with gorgeous views of the mountains –

Goshawk Ridge Trail meadow

As you head down, the view of the sharp rocks/mountains of Eldorado Canyon become more prominent –

Goshawk Ridge Trail

And even more prominent –

Eldorado Canyon

Fowler Trail

At about mile 4.3, you turn onto the Fowler trail for a bit, passing through a small rock canyon.

Fowler Trail

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.

Spring Brook Loop North Trail

Dakota Sandstone

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.”

Dakota Sandstone ripples

Spring Brook Loop North Trail – Return Loop

The Spring Brook North Loop connects back to the Spring Brook Loop at the bridge area.

Spring Brook Loop North Trail

On the return loop you pass through a grassy field with great views of the mountains again, although they are a bit further away –

Spring Brook Loop North Trail views of the Front Range

The trail then loops back down to the junction with the connector trail.

Spring Brook Loop North Trail

And you finish your hike with wide open grassy views again.

Spring Brook Loop North Trail

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.

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  1. Pingback: 2019 Hiking Adventures in Review – Takahashi Outdoors

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