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Woods Quarry Via Four Pines and Kohler Mesa (g.3)

Description: There really is something about a solitary hike in the snow, one that is made even more extraordinary when it is still snowing completely gonzo, with big, fat, wet flakes weighting down your shell and settling on your face.  The silence is complete.  And it is welcome.  So much so that when you do come upon another soul you find yourself disappointed that you aren't the only person in the woods that day.  But, they aren't there for long.  The falling snow muffles an approach, their sound coming to you when they are no more than 20' away.  They are soon gone again along with their appearance as they turn a bend, passing back into the Ponderosas.  I'll have to make this hike again later in the spring to see what I couldn't this day for all the snow.  I'd heard a lot about Woods Quarry, but it looked just like the rest of the trail on this day; stark black and white and deathly quiet.  Which made for a perfect hike.  At times the snowfall was so heavy I lost GPS with my iPhone.  I was in heaven.

I chose to make the trip to Woods Quarry from the Four Pines trailhead due to its proximity to a few bus lines.  Not many of the trails in the city are very close to bus stops, and even Four Pines is a minimum of seven blocks from the Broadway stops at Baseline or 27th.  But, this year I've had several people ask about hikes close to public transport and wanted to start offering a few.  It's a good starting spot, too.  You'll begin by climbing through open meadow and then spend most of the trail in and out of clumps of Ponderosa with glimpses of Skunk Canyon off to your left through the trees. 

Difficulty: Moderately Easy (G.3), 3.2 Miles, 950' Elevation, 2-3 Hours.  It's always tough to gauge the difficulty of a trail when hiking in adverse conditions.  I may end up changing the challenge rating after a second hike when the weather is better.  But, considering the steep, stepped start to Four Pines and the final assault on Woods Quarry, combined with the 950' of gain I think it fits pretty well as a moderately easy trail.  There are many other trails I would recommend on Beyond Boulder as a first hike in the area, but if you are acclimated to the altitude this hike should be easily obtainable for most. 

Driving Directions and Parking: 330 17th St, Boulder, CO 80302.  Head south on Broadway from Canyon Rd. to Baseline.  Turn right and climb Baseline until you see 17th St.  Turn left on 17th to King St and the trailhead will be just at the corner.  Parking is along King and 17th.  Google Map directions here...

Trailhead: Four Pines starts off as a loop trail and heads either straight or to the right from the trailhead map board.  This hike took the right trail as the start and end.

Click image for Google Maps detail

Click image for Google Maps detail

Trail Guide: This hike traverses parts of four different trails, but is not difficult to navigate.  Start on Four Pines by taking the trail to the right of the map board and head up the series of steps to the stone bench near the top.  As this is a tiring start, sit for a minute on the bench to catch your breath and take in the views of Boulder, Green Mountain Memorial Park, and the beginning of the Great Plains.  Continue up, but not to worry, the trail shortly levels out and starts a gradual climb up toward Kohler Mesa trail.  You will pass through a fence with signage indicating that you are on Federal Government land.  Most of this hike actually takes place on Department of Commerce property, not city of Boulder.  I only mention this because Federal laws are not the same as Colorado state laws when it comes to the legalization of Marijuana.  Are you picking up what I'm putting down here??? 

At 0.8 miles you will come to a trail marker.  Continue straight and upwards even though the sign says Kohler Mesa is to the left and downhill.  This is a short connector section of KM.  You will see another trail marker shortly; follow the direction for Kohler Mesa/Mesa Trail.  You will come to yet a third split; continue uphill toward Mesa Trail.  As you approach the junction of Kohler Mesa, Mesa and Woods Quarry trail you will spot the Roosa Cabin, a small stone cabin at the entrance of Woods Quarry.  There's not much history of this cabin, other than it was occupied as late as the 1970's.  As you reach the Mesa Trail take a rest and perhaps a stroll around the Roosa.  The next section is short, but steep to the quarry.  When ready head up Woods Quarry, the trail to the left of the cabin.  When you reach the top the trail T's.  To the left is a spur that will take you to the quarry.  While it would be excusable to think Woods Quarry is named for the fact it's in the forest above Boulder, it's actual namesake is from one of the founders, Frank Woods.  Starting operations in the 1890's the quarry had a short life, succumbing quickly to competition from other quarries.  Much of the sandstone was used in buildings and sidewalks around Boulder.  Although I saw none of it in the snow, there are stone lounge chairs and tables in the quarry for relaxing and having a picnic or just gazing over the city.  When ready to head back continue on Woods Quarry down the easy grade to the other junction with Mesa Trail.  Turn right, heading slightly uphill on the famous north/south Mesa Trail until you return to Roosa Cabin and Kohler Mesa trail.  Return downhill the way you came, going left at the first marker, right at the second, and left at the third.

Map Resources: Boulder Open Space Map

Après Hike: You might have noticed a few gnarly pines along the trail as you made your way up to the quarry.  In honor of their beauty I recommend Twisted Pine Brewery as a great après hike stop.  Their Hoppy Boy, a standard favorite American Pale, has a nice balance of hops and malt.  Feeling spicy?  Try their Billy's Chilies beer, my lovely wife's choice!  Twisted Pine is located at 3201 Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80301.

Picknicking:  Lots of options for packing your lunch and eating up at the quarry, but none at the trailhead.

Restrooms: No.

Dog Friendly: Yes.

Cell Sevice: Yes.