NCAR/Mesa/Bear Canyon loop trail
Scenery along the W.O. Roberts trail near NCAR
We did this Boulder hiking trail after not having hiked at NCAR for a while and it really is a pretty area, especially if you go there on a sunny day!
Anyway, we walked from the W.O. Roberts trail to the NCAR trail and followed that for a short while. From the W.O. Roberts trail, you head down some stone steps on the NCAR trail and then you continue down the trail for a short while before you start going up again. As we were hiking up the trail, we saw two mule deer in the big meadow-like area that's on your left as you drive up Table Mesa Dr. to NCAR. So keep an eye out for them :-). (Also, keep an eye out for black bears and mountain lions, since they live in this area.)
In a very short time, you'll reach a level area where you'll see a big round water tank. Walk on past it and down the trail. Before long, you'll come to an intersection and we followed the Mesa trail to the left. Not long after that, we came to another intersection and once again followed the Mesa trail to the left. Up to that point we had mostly been in open areas where we could see the scenery around us. But in a little while, we passed through a forested area that provided cool shade on the warm day that we did this hike.
Not long after that, we arrived at the next intersection which was with the Bear Canyon trail. We went left on that trail and it's a wider, smooth, open trail that follows along Bear Canyon Creek. It heads downhill and soon, you start seeing big, nice houses on your right.
Anyway, continue down the trail where you will see more houses on your right. Eventually, the trail will start going up again and it'll seem like you're going no where, but actually you are going somewhere. You're headed towards Table Mesa Dr. Just before you get there, you'll see a trail on your left that heads back up to NCAR and the parking lot. We went that way and although it was pretty, it was the hardest part of the whole hike since there were some steeper sections. Still, we thought it was better to do that then to go all the way around on the road :-).
Roundtrip distance: not sure but we estimated approximately 4 miles;
Difficulty level: easy to moderate;
Approximate roundtrip hiking time: 2 hours;
Restroom facilities: yes, at NCAR;
Dog friendly: yes, but they must be leashed;
Directions to NCAR: from the middle of Boulder, go south on Broadway/CO 93. Then turn right, (west), on Table Mesa Dr. Follow Table Mesa Dr. the short distance to the end of the road and the NCAR parking lot.