Mallory Cave - NCAR, NCAR Mesa Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Mallory Cave - NCAR - 2.8 miles

NCAR Mesa Trailhead

A hiker enters Mallory Cave before it was closed to the public

A hiker enters Mallory Cave before it was closed to the public

Round-Trip Length: 2.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 6,080' - 7,020'
Elevation Change: +940' net elevation gain
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Mallory Cave - NCAR - 2.8 Miles Round-Trip

Note: Mallory Cave is closed until further notice. The trail remains open, however, the cave itself is not open to the public. The closure stems from an epidemic of white-nosed syndrome, a fungal disease that has destroyed bat populations across the country.  

The U.S. Forest Service closed all caves on National Grassland and Forest properties across several states in an attempt to limit the potential for spread in the Western region. Because the disease is primarily found in human-accessible recreational caves, people are thought to be the main cause of spreading.

The Mallory Cave Trail in Boulder's front range is a short but steep hike to a large cave first discovered, but not recorded, by loggers cutting down trees on Dinosaur Mountain. The cave was then re-discovered in the summer of 1932 by a young University of Colorado Student named E.C. Mallory.
Begin by heading out on the Walter Orr Roberts Trail, an interpretative trail just west of the NCAR parking lot. Head west on this trail for about .6 miles before hitting the Mesa Trail. Turn hard left on to the Mesa Trail and then quickly head up the clearly marked trail to Mallory Cave.
Upon turning onto the trail to Mallory Cave, the hike will get quite steep. The narrow trail leads you up Dinosaur Mountain through towering sandstone formations with outstanding views of Boulder and the plains back to the east.
As you near the end of the hike, keep an eye out for a red rock staircase which leads straight up to the final staging area before climbing to the cave itself. There will be signs directing you to the cave so be sure to pay attention.
The final 50-75 feet of the climb are difficult. While not a technical climb, the route is steep, rocky and slick. Be very careful in wet or cold weather, as the final ascent to the cave can be very dangerous.
After the final ascent to the cave, enjoy spectacular views of NCAR, Boulder and the eastern plains. While the cave itself may appear a bit "used", people continue to marvel at its history as one of Boulder's oldest recorded front range hikes.

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Worth Noting

  • The final ascent to the cave can be difficult under wet or winter conditions. Proceed cautiously.

Rules and Regulations

  • Mallory Cave is closed to the public to help prevent the spread of white-nosed syndrome. Please honor travel and access restrictions in the cave vicinity.

Directions to Trailhead

The Mallory Cave trail begins at the far west end of Table Mesa Drive at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. Simply park in the NCAR parking lot and begin by heading out on the Walter Orr Roberts Trail, an interpretative trail just west of the NCAR facilities. To get there, simply take Table Mesa Drive west until you dead-end into the NCAR parking lot.

Contact Information

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Phone: 303.441.3440

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Trail is in great shape, right up to the top. Trail access to the cave closes from Apr 1 to Oct 1. There is a nice metal cage at the cave entrance, but you can still see inside."
Matthew Logan  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: March 12, 2016
"According to the Boulder Open Space website the cave is closed due to bats white-nose syndrome."
MJ  -   -  Date Posted: April 30, 2012


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