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OSMP Projects

The City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department will begin several large trail projects this spring to improve the sustainability of popular trails and to repair trail infrastructure damaged during the 2013 floods. While OSMP seeks to limit the impacts that users experience on open space to the greatest extent practicable, some long-term trail closures will be necessary to protect visitors. In most instances, trails under repair work will be open during the weekends.

View the 2017 Major Trail Projects Interactive Map

2017 Major Trail Projects

All project start and completion dates are estimates. Project completion dates may be delayed because of weather and other unforeseen events.

Mesa Trail and Shadow Canyon South repairs 

Quick Details

Start date: Early to mid-May 2017
Project length: Through November 2017
Open house: OSMP held an open house to inform community members of this project on Wednesday, April 5.
Purpose: Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department will repair and rebuild the flood-damaged Mesa Trail and Shadow Canyon South Trail in the area north and west of the South Mesa Trailhead. The project will repair flood-related erosion damage and improve sustainability of the trail while providing for an improved visitor experience and re-establishing administrative vehicle access for OSMP operations, emergency response, and utility access.
Impact: Several trails and the South Mesa Trailhead will be closed either Monday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday for the project duration. Trails that will be affected include:

  • Mesa Trail between South Mesa Trailhead and Shadow Canyon North junction
  • Homestead Trail
  • Towhee Trail
  • Shadow Canyon South Trail
  • Shadow Canyon South Spur Trail
  • Mesa Connector Trail
  • Big Bluestem West Trail

Project Area

Trails in the South Mesa area:

Map of South Mesa Project Area

Project/Background Information

This project will repair major damage that the road incurred in the September 2013 floods. Repairs along the trail will:

  • Allow administrative vehicles access to the area for emergency response (firefighting, medical, and search-and-rescue vehicles), OSMP administrative access, and utility access.
  • Improve trail user experience by repairing eroded, flood-damaged trails.
  • Provide improved trail drainage and be designed with sustainability in mind so that it will be less susceptible to future flood damage.
  • Provide ecological restoration along negatively-impacted areas of the trail.

This is a major flood-recovery project that the city needs to complete by the end of 2017 in order to receive reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Rebuilding from the 2013 floods is a top department priority. After the floods OSMP prioritized repair work that helped reopen trails and allowed visitors to reconnect with the land. OSMP then prioritized completing infrastructure work that is eligible for reimbursement from FEMA.

NCAR - Bear Canyon and Mesa Trail

Quick Details

Start date: November 28, 2016
Project length: Through June 2017
Purpose: Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department will repair and rebuild the flood-damaged NCAR-Bear Canyon Trail and a Mesa Trail section south of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The project completion will re-establish emergency vehicle access to the area.
Impact: The NCAR-Bear Canyon Trail and a half-mile section of the Mesa Trail will have sectional closures for at least six months. 

Current Closure Conditions

Trail closures will change frequently during this project; please check this site before visiting the area. Trails will be closed in phases to minimize impacts to visitors. Closure details and map are below. Please note that the anticipated timeline is weather permitting. Trail sections not in active construction sites will be closed 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and remain open during weekends and evenings. 

Currently Closed

Effective Monday, Jan. 23 the following trails are closed:

  • Intermittently closed 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday:
    • NCAR - Bear Canyon Trail up to the Mesa Trail
    • Mesa Trail from NCAR - Bear Canyon intersection to Mallory Cave Trail intersection
  • Closed full-time (24 hours/day, seven days/week):
    • Mesa Trail from NCAR-Bear Canyon intersection to North Fork Shanahan Trail intersection.
    • Fern Canyon Trail spur from Mesa Trail intersection to Fern Canyon Trail. 
Map of Phase I Trail Closures for Bear Canyon Project

Project Area

Trail closures will change in the project area as the work progresses. Please check back for current closures. 

View a map of the project area pdf.

Map of Mesa/Bear Canyon Project Area

Explore alternate routes or hikes with OSMP’s interactive trail map.

OSMP is working to minimize trail closures as much as possible. However, there may be times when visitors will not be able to travel the length of the Mesa Trail from Chautauqua to the South Mesa Trailhead, or access Fern or Bear canyons from the NCAR trailhead. Trail closures are needed because of destabilized terrain during the construction process and the presence of contractors’ heavy equipment. 

Project/Background Information

This project will repair major damage that the road incurred in the September 2013 floods. Repairs along the trail will: 

  • Photo of flood damage to Bear Canyon Allow emergency vehicles, such as firefighting and search-and-rescue vehicles, access to the area.
  • Improve access for trail users.
  • Provide improved trail drainage and be designed with sustainability in mind so that it will be less susceptible to future flood damage.
  • Provide ecological restoration in valuable riparian habitat areas along the trail.

This is a major flood-recovery project that the city needs to complete by September 2017 in order to receive reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Rebuilding from the 2013 floods is a top department priority. After the floods OSMP prioritized repair work that helped reopen trails and allowed visitors to reconnect with the land. OSMP then prioritized completing infrastructure work that is eligible for reimbursement from FEMA.

Other Trail Improvements in this Area

OSMP has trail crews repairing the flood-damaged NCAR-Bear Connector Trail. No trail closures will occur on this trail during reconstruction.

Chautauqua Trail 

OSMP will begin work to repair a section of the Chautauqua Trail starting as early as Monday, April 17. The project will repair the path with some slight alignment changes to improve drainage and minimize trail erosion. This minimal alignment change will feature a re-surfaced trail tread that will allow visitors who use wheelchairs to access one of two viewing areas that provide visitors with breathtaking views of the Flatirons. The trail will remain open during this repair project which OSMP hopes to complete by late July. Learn more about the Chautauqua Trail Repair Project.

Mount Sanitas Trail

This project, which is expected to begin in June, will be a multi-year effort to improve the trail. The trail will remain open during repair work.

Gregory Canyon Amphitheater bridge

This project will construct a new bridge over Gregory Canyon Creek and will connect the Amphitheater Trail with the Gregory Canyon Trailhead. This flood-repair work likely will begin in early April and conclude at the end of May. A small portion of the Amphitheater Trail will be closed the entire time during repairs. 

Boulder Falls

While OSMP conducted repairs at Boulder Falls last year, more substantial repairs are needed. OSMP is working on design and contractor selection work required for this project, and hopes to begin repair work in this area in the fall. The department recognizes Boulder Falls importance for visitors, and is working diligently to reopen it while the department also completes many other flood-related trail projects.

East Boulder – White Rocks Trail bridge

OSMP anticipates that repairs to the bridge will begin this fall. Work includes repairing the bridge’s east abutment, which was undermined during heavy rainfall in 2015. OSMP hopes to complete the bridge repairs by the end of 2017. The trail section where this bridge is located is currently closed and will remain closed until the repairs are completed.

North and South Shanahan Fork trails and Shanahan Connector

Repairs to these trails likely will begin in early April and are anticipated to be completed by mid-September. Segments of these trails will be closed Monday through Friday, but will be open during the weekends.

Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak access

With ongoing construction also occurring along the NCAR-Bear Canyon and Mesa trails, visitors can access Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak through the Fern Canyon and the Bear Peak West Ridge Trails. Repairs along the NCAR-Bear Canyon and Mesa trails are expected to be completed in late June.

Completed Projects

South Boulder Creek West and Lower Big Bluestem trail repairs

Photo of repaired South Boulder Creek West Trail Portions of these trails were repaired during the last two weeks of March.

Photo of repaired Lower Big Bluestem Trail

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