Cowdrey Draw may be one of the shortest trails in Boulder County. While the trail takes hikers through the Cowdrey Draw Natural Area, don't think of it as a main trail, think of it as a connector trail.
Cowdrey Draw starts on an unsigned road (66th Avenue) with a sign that says "No Outlet" (directions below). Park on the side of the road and you'll see signs for two different trails. To the east, is the end of the Mayoffer-Singletree Trail. To the west is the Cowdrey Draw Trail.
Go through the fence to the start of the trail. Here a sign explains that in the Cowdrey Draw Natural Area dogs must be leashed to protect the grasslands.
You may see two trails at the sign. One that goes left, up the hill. The other goes straight ahead. A long-time hiker in the area said the trail going up the hill is an old cow trail. The trail straight ahead is the official trail. An arrow on the trail sign points hikers straight ahead toward the Community Ditch and Marshall Mesa trails.
The trail winds its way west. As you walk, enjoy the impressive view of the flatirons, the Indian Peaks and the rest of the foothills.
About 0.2 miles from the trailhead, you'll pass through a fence. This is a good reminder that cows may sometimes roam here, make sure you close the gate after you pass through.
The trail continues west, at one point passing what appears to be an old storage tank. It looks like it was initially made of bricks, then covered in cement. While we tried to jump on the front side to see inside, one of my hiking partners suggested just walking around to a higher side where you could easily see inside.
After a break at the tank, we continued west, still enjoying the views.
At 0.8 miles from the trailhead, the Cowdrey Draw Trail ends at an intersection. From here, you have options:
- Turn around here for a very easy, 1.65 mile hike with about 70 feet of elevation gain.
- Continue straight ahead on the mostly flat Community Ditch Trail for another 1.5. Turn around where the trail ends at the Coal Seam Trail and Highway 93. That hike is about 4.75 miles roundtrip.
- Do a loop hike clockwise by taking the Community Ditch Trail to the Coal Seam Trail to the Marshall Mesa Trail back to the Cowdrey Draw Trail for a hike of about 5 miles roundtrip.
- Do a loop hike counter-clockwise by going down on the Marshall Mesa Trail to the Coal Seem Trail. Hike back up a hill to the Community Ditch Trail and take the Community Ditch Trail back to Cowdrey Draw for a total hike of about 5 miles .
I highly recommend printing a map before you go because there are no maps at the Cowdrey Draw Trailhead. I also suggest, as you hike along the Community Ditch Trail, you take the short spur south that leads to Marshall Lake. The lake was bought as fishing property for the Louisville Rod & Gun Club in the 1940s.
This trail is part of a 14 mile loop, read more here. In the area, check out the Mayoffer-Singletree Trail, Marshall Mesa, Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw. Want more? Here's a list of more than 200 hikes in Colorado.
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Directions: From U.S. 36 exit McCaslin Boulevard and turn south. Take McCaslin just 0.1 miles and turn right/west on Marshall Drive. Take Marshall Drive 2.2 miles as it curves through the shopping area (watch your speed) and then becomes more of a rural road. Turn left on 66th Street. 66th may not have a street name sign, so make sure you reset your odometer when you turn on Marshall Drive. Drive up 66th Street 0.1 miles to the trail on your right.