A major roosting site for Townsend’s big-eared bats, Mallory Cave is a quiet respite etched into a 7,000-foot, conglomerate sandstone crag. The 3.5-mile route to this hidden bat cave showcases small samples of classic Chautauqua Park scenery: fields of tall grasses with resting deer herds, ponderosa and fir stands, tree-choked ravines, Bear Peak, and the lichen-spotted Flatirons.
The hike itself offers a strenuous workout in a short distance. You’ll ascend more than 2,500 feet in 6.8 miles, doing the bulk of the climbing along steep switchbacks near Mallory Cave. After the switchbacks, the trail deadends at the base of a 100-foot rock face. Scramble up a narrow shoot on the right side of the cliff then duck through a tiny tunnel on the left to reach the bottom of the small, dark cave. While the cave itself is not incredibly beautiful by any standard, the view from its mouth lets you see a hundred-mile-long panorama of the eastern Colorado prairie and the Denver skyline.
Editor’s Note: Mallory Cave is closed seasonally from April 1 to October 1 due to bat roosting. The trail is open year-round.
-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan