On top of the large mesa between Highway 36 and Louisville is a wide open, 3.3-mile trail that loops through tall prairie grasses and wild flowers. Hard-packed with gravel fines, it’s a wide safe path – which is good, because you are going to be distracted by the dramatic mountain views to the west, all the way to the snowy Continental Divide.
This is a great trail for a family ride. If you commute to work in Boulder by bike from Louisville, it’s a fun alternative to riding on South Boulder Road and it connects to the new 36 Bikeway that parallels the highway.
From south Boulder, take the 36 Bikeway from any of its access points. (Yes, this means you have to pedal up the 300-foot elevation gain as it climbs to the top of the mesa.) Just before the summit, you will see a sign that says Davidson Mesa Trail and there is an exit from the sidewalk to the left. Take it and ride through a wide gate, where the sidewalk ends and the gravel trail begins. You can then go either right or left on the wide doubletrack. Either way takes you along the north or south edges of the mesa as the trails meander east. On the far eastern side you’ll reach the official trailhead on McCaslin Boulevard with a parking lot and enclosed dog park.
Stay on the main trail as it circles back west – or take a breather on one of many benches conveniently placed for the views. Various trails cut across the mesa as well, so you can extend your ride by combining loops and doing multiple laps. Then follow the path back to the 36 Bikeway and enjoy the whoop-inducing descent into Boulder.