Fowler is a jewel of a trail. This peaceful trek has some of the most spectacular vistas along the Front Range then heads down along the strong and wise canyon walls of Eldorado Canyon State Park.
Elevation Gain: 232’
Elevation Fluctuation: 5,885′ – 6,117′
Round trip distance: 4 miles
Nearest Landmark: Eldorado Springs, CO
Season: All Seasons
Popular: Hikers, Trail Runners, Families, Leashed Dogs Allowed, No Bikes, No Horses.
How to Get There: From Boulder, take Hwy 93 (Broadway) south and turn right on State Highway 170/Eldorado Springs Road. Travel about 2.5 miles to County Road 67 on your left. Travel about ¼ mile until the road dead ends. Parking is limited.
Trailhead GPS: Eldorado Mountain/Fowler Trailhead: 39.931839,-105.270403
The Hike: At the trail, start up a wide, smooth hill for about 0.5 miles where you will come to a junction with Spring Brook North, head right and stay on Fowler. You will come to a spectacular cut blasted through the hogback. At 1 mile, the trail splits with Goshawk Ridge Trail, go right and stay on Fowler Trail. At 1.3 mile, you will come to the Eldorado Canyon State Park boundary and the trail becomes a rocky single track, bending again to enter the canyon from the south. Take in the magnificent rock garden made of gray quartzite rock that started off as eroded sand 1.6 billion years ago.
The large rock on your left is the Bastille, which is a cornerstone for rock climbers. Enjoy the views of Eldorado Springs, maybe catch glimpses of rock climbers on the canyon walls and take in the flowing South Boulder Creek. Fowler Trail ends at the Rattlesnake Gulch Trailhead. From here you can explore the park or turn around and come back the way you came.
If you don’t mind walking on some asphalt for part of the way, you can also loop back to the Fowler trailhead by taking a right at the Rattlesnake/Fowler Trailhead and downhill on the main road, following the South Boulder Creek down all the way to the main entrance. Continue through the town of Eldorado Springs and back onto Eldorado Springs Road to County Road 67, turn right and walk up to the parking area where you started.
Other hikes in Eldorado Canyon:
In 1907, aerialist Ivy Baldwin moved to Eldorado after an adventurous life performing as a high wire acrobat and parachutist. At the age of 41, Ivy crossed a 7/8 inch thick, steel cable stretched across the top of the Bastille to the Wind Tower at 672 feet across and over 400 feet above the South Boulder Creek. It took him 6 ½ minutes to walk to the middle of the cable, bow and then stand on his head, before heading over to the opposite side, all without a safety net. At 82, he walked this wire again for the last time. In 1953, he died peacefully in his sleep at age 87 at his son’s home in Arvada, Colorado.
To really enjoy the beauty and quietness of the park, it is best to come in the cooler months or during summer weekdays if you are driving. Eldorado Canyon almost always reaches its parking capacity during summer weekends and holidays from May through September.
Inside the Eldorado Canyon State Park, visit the Visitor Center, about 1 mile from the main entrance. There are many places to picnic in the park as well.
Alternate Route #1 – 2 miles – Eldorado Canyon State Park Main Entrance to Fowler/Rattlesnake Trailhead
If you just want an easy 2 mile stroll with beautiful scenery, you can drive into Eldorado Canyon State Park, pay the $7 entrance fee and then travel up to the Fowler/Rattlesnake trailhead, walk up Fowler on a slight hill for 0.9 miles to the park boundary and then back down. This is a great nature walk for families. (Warning: Inside the park, parking is hard to find during the summer weekends, either come early or plan a visit during the weekdays or cooler months.)
How to Get There: From Boulder, take State Highway 93 south and turn right on State Highway 170 and continue to the park entrance west of Eldorado Springs, about 8 miles southwest of Boulder.
Alternate Route #2 – 6.7 miles – Dowdy Draw – Spring Brook North – Fowler – Eldorado Canyon State Park
And yet another trail option! I love running this 6.7 mile loop! From the Dowdy Draw Trailhead, head uphill for ½ mile where there are restrooms. Cross over the bridge and continue to a trail junction at 1.3 miles. Go right on Spring Brook trail. At the next junction, go right to Spring Brook North and up a narrow track to a beautiful mesa viewing the Flatirons. Continue down into a forest of ponderosa pines to the next junction where you will go right and alongside a service road beside a canal.
Head downhill and towards the mountains to a gorgeous blasted hogback to views of Eldorado Springs below. Continue to the next junction then take a right onto a double track trail which will take you into the Eldorado Canyon State Park and then down to the Rattlesnake Gulch Trailhead.
Turn right here onto the main dirt road through the canyon. Follow the road past the park entrance gate, past the town of Eldorado Springs. Upon leaving the town, the dirt road will turn into asphalt. Continue on this road for 1 mile until you complete the loop and end up back at the Dowdy Draw Trailhead.
How to Get There: From Boulder, take Hwy 93 (Broadway) south and turn right on State Highway 170/Eldorado Springs Road. Travel about 2 miles and you will see Doudy Draw Trailhead on your left. Parking is limited. You may also try to find parking across the street at the Mesa South Trailhead.
Visit the Eldorado Canyon State Park website.