Bobcat Ridge: Where Not to Walk

Colorado’s Front Range has much to offer a hiker. It is important to know where to go. It’s also important to know where not to go.

When I began this year of working on the book Base Camp Denver, 101 Hikes Along Colorado’s Front Range, I set an arbitrary 2-hour driving radius from downtown. Scouring maps, I came up with a list of 264 hikes (of course I missed a few). Using armchair judgment, I weeded dozens out. Extending the boundary in some cases, I added more. Over the ensuing nine months I went out and walked or re-walked 163 trails, and wrote up 101 of them.

One hike that didn’t make the cut was Bobcat Ridge. I’d never been there when I pulled into its parking lot one morning last spring. By then I’d had a few months of research under my belt, and was learning to let the mountains speak to me and tell me where to go. And that morning they said, “Pass on this one.”

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Trailhead
Photo by Pete KJ

Was I being fair? This bothered me. It bothered me so much I went back two weeks ago. One side effect of writing this book is that I am now more hopelessly addicted to hiking than ever. Fortunately I live here, and can channel my affliction into hiking once a week. I get to knock out many of the trails I passed on.

Off to Bobcat Ridge I went! Nine miles later I was on home stretch toward the car, grinning. I felt exhilarated by the lovely walk, and thrilled that I hadn’t wasted my time on this trail last spring. Here are some of the dings that keep Bobcat Ridge Natural Area out of the book:

Fire Burn: This area is part of 10,600 acres that were torched by a wildfire in 2000. The trees haven’t regenerated. Although hikes through burned zones can have a stark beauty to them, and several are included in the book, Bobcat Ridge is almost entirely devoid of trees. After 6 miles I finally reached some, and felt like I’d arrived at an oasis.

Starkly beautiful and yet still charred, Ginny Trail on Bobcat Ridge
Photo by Pete KJ

Sense of Destination: I like to “get somewhere” when I go hiking: to a mountain, a pass, a rock, a lake, a historical feature, a view. Something! Somewhere to stop, feel accomplishment, eat a snack, and head back from. Bobcat Ridge doesn’t really have such a destination. You climb a ridge and walk along it. From this foothill you see mostly other foothills. You get glimpses of the snowy Mummy Range, but they are fleeting.

Looping for Looping’s Sake: Some people prefer loop trips to out-and-backs. One reason, I suppose, is the ever-changing scenery. I’ve never understood this because I find scenery on out-and-back trails to be 100% different each way. I’m not averse to a loop as long as it is justified, but too often I find one portion to be about “getting somewhere,” and the rest to be about meandering for the sake of having a loop. It can start to feel contrived; like a carnival ride. Loops can also mean going down-and-up unnecessarily. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do 7,000 feet of gain in a day, but I want it to be “getting somewhere.”

Bobcat Ridge’s main feature is a 9.5 mile loop. As I hiked the final 1.5 miles along the contours of hillside, in up-and-down fashion that felt like it went everywhere except the parking lot (which was in full view), I decided that if I ever returned, I’d just do the ridgetop as an out-and-back.

Now I feel like I’m being mean. In truth Bobcat Ridge is a fine place to hike. It’s especially good if you live nearby, and want an all-year workout spot that doesn’t involve a treadmill in a gym. The area does have lovely red hogback cliffs, and stark majestic vistas. It’s a good place to go AFTER you’ve done the 101 hikes.

I look forward to continuing this process! I am contemplating two sequels. One is called, “101 More Hikes.” The other is, “50 ½ Hikes to Not Bother Doing Along Colorado’s Front Range.”

Pete KJ

Pete KJ

Pete KJ began explorations at age three in the wooded ravine that was his backyard in Seattle. He also began a lifelong writing habit. Backyard expanded as Pete stomped all over the Cascades and Olympics as a youth, and headed onward to the Pyrenees, Alps, Himalayas, and Andes. Peace Corps service in Africa cemented his deep desire to always be out in the world, and when he finally sat in a cubicle as a chemical engineer, it was in places like Puerto Rico and India. Long absent from cubicle, he moved on to raise kids, travel the world with them, and write about it (and also write three novels). Career brought Pete to Colorado in the 1990s, its gravity and beauty pulled him back. Pete's "Base Camp Denver: 101 Hikes in Colorado's Front Range" will be published in April, 2019 by Imbrifex Books.

4 thoughts to “Bobcat Ridge: Where Not to Walk”

  1. It’s interesting to hear how you’re picking the hikes. The Front Range has SO MANY! But Pete, just in case we want to check it out, where IS Bobcat Ridge? I am seriously looking forward to this book!

    1. Hey Sue,

      In Loveland, go west out of town on Eisenhower Blvd. Turn left toward Masonville on County Road 27, just before an elementary school. It’s about 4.5 miles ahead on the left, you can’t miss it. Nice open space but just didn’t make the cut — as you know, there are to many! Thanks for asking, Pete

  2. Pingback: No Seedlings - Base Camp Guides

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The following GDPR rules must be read and accepted:
This form collects your name, email and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data. Thanks for you cooperation and for making a comment here!