I'd never run Walker Ranch, and had heard there was some vertical on this 7-mile loop, but I honestly didn't know what I was in for. I didn't realize it descended all the way into South Boulder Creek Canyon below the reservoir dam -- twice. It's a long way down. When I got back home, I was surprised to find it was only 1,600 feet of elevation change for the two descents. It always seems like more when you're running it.
Starting at the top, the trail zig-zags down into a valley, then runs down, down, down on forest roads and trails. There's a sinking feeling realizing you're going to have to climb back up by the same amount later.
I could hear the rushing water below long before getting to the creek, then you're in the narrow canyon with water rushing over rocks, and a bridge takes you across.
Then some crazy steep log steps take you up the canyon wall and onto the ridge above.
The ridge lasts at least a couple of miles, heading upward, as you regain elevation.
Then in the final two miles you drop all the way down into the canyon again.
On the way back I took Gross Reservoir Road over to 72, rather than brave the Joey-in-a-rice-rocket-tailgate-fest (or the Joe-Jim-Bob-in-a-pick-me-up-tailgate-fest as the case may be) down Flagstaff, and stopped for the picture below. Two high school girls were there smoking Swisher Sweets and giggling, so I didn't linger (cough, cough) and left them to their forbidden enjoyment.
Distance was 7.77 miles, time 1:50 (moving 1:30), elevation gain/loss 1,608 feet, avg. pace 14:12 (moving 11:41), and best pace 7:14.
The elevation change is not that much different from my stock White Ranch 8-miler, and the elevation is very slightly lower. However, since the drop is pretty steady, and you end up in a canyon with a rushing river, it seems more intense. Nice loop.