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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    245 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    5.5 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Mallory Cave Hike


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    Table of contents

    One of the earliest recreational trails along the foothills, the Mallory Cave Hike has remained a revered hiking destination. Trek along the base of Boulder’s notable landmark, the Flatirons, before ascending into the red rocks and scrambling up to the gated bat cave. Perfect to blow off some steam, this technical adventure is sure to impress its adventurers.

    Route Description for Mallory Cave Hike

    ​The Mallory Cave Hike is a crowd favorite, even now that the cave itself is locked. Unfortunately, the cave had to permanently close to safeguard the bat population from white-nose syndrome, which is carried by humans. Don’t worry though, you can still enjoy the cave from behind the gate.

    Not only is there the possibility of spotting bats, but the Mallory Cave Trail travels deep into the wilderness where the possibility of seeing black bears or mountain lions is not as slim as you may think. Some choose to wear a bear bell to mitigate the chances of any unwelcome encounters with wildlife. Additionally, though dogs are permitted on the hike, it is suggested to leave them at home. The rearmost section of the trail up to the cave is rocky, steep, and technical, making it hard for pups to safely navigate the terrain.

    The Mallory Cave Hike is a charming adventure that exhibits the diversity of the Colorado wilderness. Travel through the sweet-smelling ponderosa pines, through enchanting grasslands, and up through the fissures of red sandstone rocks. Stimulating, scenic, and strenuous, the Mallory Cave Hike will keep you on your toes. Frequented by many, this crowd-favorite trail is well-marked, well-maintained, and easy to navigate. Guiding adventurers along the base of the Flatirons, this trail exposes a unique perspective of the rock blades looming above. If you are not shy of some scrambling, then the Mallory Cave Hike is a must-add to your Boulder itinerary.

    Embark on your adventure up to Mallory Cave from the NCAR Trailhead. From here, track southwest along the NCAR Trail. This path will guide adventurers through the grasslands and over the summit of Table Mountain. Here you will be granted impressive views of the towering Flatirons and encompassing peaks. As you wander through the grassy meadows, be sure to keep an eye out for grazing deer. Soon the trail will guide you beneath tree coverage of ponderosa pines. Enjoy the tree shade of the sweet-smelling evergreens, and you will eventually confront an intersection with the Mesa Trail.

    At the junction, keep straight, and you will be diverted onto the Mallory Cave Trail. This route will gently undulate through the woodland and immense rock outcropping. As you near the cave, the terrain will become increasingly technical. If you have your dog with you, this is a good time to turn around. Follow the blue signposts through the breaks in the sandstone rocks. Mind your footing, and if you trek after rainfall, be cautious of the slippery rocks. Soon you will summit the path to the cave. There is a large iron gate here closing the cave to prevent visitors from contaminating the area. Explore the area, peek through the gate and rehydrate here. When you are ready to return, carefully retrace your footing down the rocks all the way back to the trailhead, marking the end of your adventure.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long is the Mallory Cave Hike?

    The Mallory Cave Trail is a 5.5 km hike.

    Is Mallory Cave still open?

    The Mallory Cave Hike is open, but the cave itself is permanently closed to reduce human contamination that has proven detrimental to the bat population in the area.

    Insider Hints for Mallory Cave Hike

    • Though dogs are permitted on the trail, it is recommended to leave them at home as the terrain near the cave requires scrambling and can be hard on your pup’s paws
    • Wear crampons in the winter months to navigate the icy terrain more easily
    • Grab a beer at Sanitas Brewing Company after your hike

    Getting to the Mallory Cave Hike Trailhead

    The Mallory Cave Hike departs from the NCAR Trailhead off NCAR Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground:


    • When to do:


    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Mallory Cave Hike Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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