Take an easy walk back in time on the Mary Miller Trail at Rock Creek Farm. Rock Creek Farm is off Highway 287 in Broomfield, but on the other side of the farm is a Boulder County Open Space park dedicated to Carolyn Holmberg, a former open space director. It’s appropriate that the park carries the name of a woman, because the woman who first lived in this area left a lasting legacy.
Mary Miller was a pioneer who moved west with her husband Lafayette in 1864. The Millers bought an 80-acre parcel of land and built a stage station, hotel and tavern along the Overland Mail Stage route in 1870. When stage business dropped off thanks to the popularity of the railroad, the Millers started a cattle ranch here and a meat market in Boulder.
In 1888, Mary Miller, now a widow, founded the town of Lafayette and named it after her husband. Now you can hike the trail named after her.
The trails at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve are perfect for families. The dirt paths are flat and wide. You’ll likely see birds on the lake, in the trees and on the fence posts. And you can even take the kids fishing here (just make sure you follow state and county rules).
The trailhead is on 104th Street (directions below), near Stearns Lake. At the trailhead you’ll find bathrooms, picnic tables, grills and a signboard with maps and information. There just one path at the trailhead, it takes hikers along the south side of the lake.
About a quarter mile from the trailhead, visitors come to a trail split. A sign points straight ahead (east) for the Mary Miller Trail or south for the Cradleboard Trail.
The Mary Miller Trail winds around Stearns Lake and out into the fields. You can walk the wide, main path or the skinnier path on the top of the dam.
Just past the dam, the trail takes a right turn into the fields. As you walk here, you’ll pass two signs that explain the history of the Rock Creek area and the people who have lived and worked here. Over the last 140 years this area has been used to raise crops and livestock. The crops include alfalfa, grass hay, corn, barley, wheat and pumpkins. As you walk, you’ll likely see fields of corn and herds of cows.
Walk as far as you want and turn around or go all the way to the road and return the way you came. As you hike back, enjoy the wide stretching view of the foothills all the way to Longs Peak (that tall snow-capped mountain to the north that hits a height of over 14,000 feet).
Details: The walk on the Mary Miller Trail and back is about 3 miles roundtrip with 100 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From U.S. 36 exit Highway 287/Wadsworth and go north. Pass Rock Creek Farm and Northwest Parkway and turn left/west on Dillon Road. Turn left/south on 104th Street and drive 0.65 miles to the trailhead.
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