Published: June 9, 2016
Rocky mountain national park

Summertime in Boulder is beautiful, with mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures, perfect for hiking. If you are looking for a quick trip to nature, or a stress reliever, check out these five hiking spots in and around Boulder County.

Enchanted Mesa/McClintock

Chautauqua Park, Boulder- Easy  The enchanted Mesa and McClintock trail are connected. Both trails begin by the picnic area in Chautauqua Park, and are gentle hikes, with the McClintock trail initially descending into a green forest alongside a stream. It then slowly ascends, crosses a stone bridge, and meets up with the Enchanted Mesa trail. The Enchanted Mesa trail crosses the stone bridge and eventually leads to an overlook point with great views of Boulder, then joins the McClintock trail in a Ponderosa pine forest. McClintock and Enchanted Mesa trails start immediately on the south side of the Chautauqua Auditorium, near Chautauqua Park (Grant and Baseline Streets).

Flatirons Vista

Boulder- Easy to Moderate  The Flatirons Vista trail is a longer hike at 3.3 miles, with an optional shorter loop. The gradual inclines make it a great running trail. This trail is very accessible, and popular among bicyclists, those in wheelchairs and even horseback riders. Pets on leashes are welcome, and the area is known for an array of diverse wildlife. The area is home to many birds, and coyotes, bears, bobcats and mule deer are seen frequently. 0.3 mile south of Highway 128 on Highway 93.

Royal Arch

Chautauqua Park, Boulder- Moderate to Difficult  The Royal Arch trail also begins in Chautauqua park. However, it is more difficult than the Enchanted Mesa/McClintock trails. It’s a 3.5-mile trail with a steep incline and estimated 1,400 foot ascension. Since the Royal Arch is popular, it’s best to go early in the morning when it’s less crowded. At the top, the strenuous hike is rewarded by gorgeous views over Bluebell Canyon, the city of Boulder, and even a peek into Denver on a clear day. Bring a picnic and enjoy your time at the top. Start on Chautauqua trail by the ranger station, and follow signs to Royal Arch trail.

Mount Sanitas

Boulder- Moderate to Difficult The Mount Sanitas trail slowly winds along both sides of a ridge leading to the summit. It is popular amongst both runners and climbers, as there are many designated bouldering areas along the trail. On a typical day, you will also see many people with dogs, so feel free to bring Fido along on this dog-friendly hike. A cool side note: Sandstone was quarried from Mount Sanitas to construct some of the buildings on campus. While hiking the trail look for the familiar red stone. 0.5 mile west of 4th Street on Mapleton Avenue.

Heart Lake

James Peak Wilderness Area- Difficult The Heart Lake trail is outside of Boulder in the James Peak Wilderness Area, but the drive is worth it. A challenging hike at just under nine miles, the steep incline over the ridges is strenuous to maneuver, but the descent to the lake basin is pretty easy. Since it is a challenging hike, the trail is lightly trafficked. Heart Lake, named for its shape, is beautiful and clear, and you’ll be surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks. At a max elevation of around 11,000 feet, you are above the tree line and will be able to see for miles. From Boulder, take Canyon Blvd/Highway 119 to Nederland. At the traffic circle in Nederland, turn left/south on Highway 119 to Rollinsville. In Rollinsville, turn right/west on the dirt Rollins Pass Road. It's eight miles to the trailhead at the Moffat Tunnel.