Backpacker Magazine Boulder, CO: Mallory Cave 

Climb past ponderosa stands, golden meadows, and Boulder's iconic Flatirons to a hidden cave in Chautauqua Park on this 6.8-mile out-and-back.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 8 Nov 2008 9:28:01 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: Colorado (CO)
Distance: 6.75 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 2571 ft
Total Loss: 2571 ft
Net Change: 0 ft
Difficulty: 7 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Eldorado Springs, Boulder
Tags: Boulder, Chatauqua State Park, Colorado
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

A major roosting site for Townsend's big-eared bats, Mallory Cave is a quiet respite etched into a 7,000-foot, conglomerate sandstone crag. The 3.5-mile route to this hidden bat cave showcases small samples of classic Chautauqua Park scenery: fields of tall grasses with resting deer herds, ponderosa and fir stands, tree-choked ravines, Bear Peak, and the lichen-spotted Flatirons.

The hike itself offers a strenuous workout in a short distance. You'll ascend more than 2,500 feet in 6.8 miles, doing the bulk of the climbing along steep switchbacks near Mallory Cave. After the switchbacks, the trail deadends at the base of a 100-foot rock face. Scramble up a narrow shoot on the right side of the cliff then duck through a tiny tunnel on the left to reach the bottom of the small, dark cave. While the cave itself is not incredibly beautiful by any standard, the view from its mouth lets you see a hundred-mile-long panorama of the eastern Colorado prairie and the Denver skyline.

Editor's Note: Mallory Cave is closed seasonally from April 1 to October 1 due to bat roosting. The trail is open year-round.

-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan

TO TRAILHEAD: From Baseline Rd. and Broadway St., head southeast on Broadway St. Go 0.8 mile to the start of the use-trail on the right-hand side of Broadway.

Position Format: Datum:

Mallory Cave

Distance: 6.75 mi Points: 801
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest


Location: 39.989336, -105.256115
Hike west on the use-trail that starts near the northwest corner of Broadway Street and Dartmouth Avenue.


Location: 39.989443, -105.265149
Bear right and follow the use-trail toward an exposed, low ridgeline near the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).


Location: 39.990179, -105.270661
Go straight at the 3-way intersection with another use-trail.


Location: 39.990232, -105.271087
Turn left and begin climbing a short set of switchbacks.


Location: 39.989242, -105.277302
Bear left @ the Y-junction, merging onto the Kohler Mesa Trail.


Location: 39.986872, -105.279048
Turn left @ the T-junction, taking the connector trail to Skunk Canyon.


Location: 39.985719, -105.279901
Turn right onto the Skunk Canyon Trail. On the way back, bear right here and hike east on Skunk Canyon.


Location: 39.979056, -105.283839
Bear right @ the Y-junction onto the Mesa Trail.


Location: 39.978004, -105.284238
Turn right on the Mallory Cave Trail. The trail will switchback for a little more than a mile, offering a strenuous climb up steep grades. The trail ends at the base of sandstone cliff. From there, scramble up its narrow shoot to access the cave.


Location: 39.974113, -105.289796
Mallory Cave: which showcases the prairie around Denver and Boulder. After exploring the cave, retrace steps back to the trailhead.

Mallory Cave

Location: 39.974119, -105.289707
©MacKenzie Ryan

Kohler Mesa Trail

Location: 39.989238, -105.277197
©MacKenzie Ryan

Connector Trail

Location: 39.986854, -105.278968
©MacKenzie Ryan

Skunk Canyon Trail

Location: 39.985703, -105.279772
©MacKenzie Ryan


Location: 39.980886, -105.284557
©MacKenzie Ryan

Merging onto Mesa Trail

Location: 39.979274, -105.284257
©MacKenzie Ryan

Mesa Trail

Location: 39.979054, -105.283798
©MacKenzie Ryan

Mallory Cave Trail

Location: 39.978000, -105.284128
©MacKenzie Ryan

Access Chute

Location: 39.974070, -105.288785
©MacKenzie Ryan

Prairie Panorama

Location: 39.974144, -105.289557
©MacKenzie Ryan


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