Springtime weather in Boulder can be unpredictable, but good hiking days are here to stay! If you are looking for a quick trip to nature or a stress reliever, check out these hiking spots in and around Boulder County.
Remember: Trails may still have some ice and snow on them in shady spots, and there's always a chance of snow, so be sure to do a weather check before heading out.
The Enchanted Mesa and McClintock trails 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.
Enchanted Mesa and McClintock trails start immediately on the south side of the Chautauqua Auditorium near Chautauqua Park at Grant and Baseline streets.
Red Rocks Trail
Red Rocks Trail is awesome if you are looking for a short, leisurely hike. It takes about 45 minutes to complete this easy 1-mile loop with a 0.4-mile spur. A beautiful, underground sandstone formation juts out of the ground to transform the landscape. It makes for an inspiring short hike.
You can add an additional .8 mile to your hike by taking the Anemone Trail to the west, rising another 400 feer, where it tops out on a hill to give you views of the city of Boulder, the Red Rocks Park and the Colorado Front Range.
Boulder Canyon Creek Trail
Easy to moderate
Another nice, leisurely hike for you to try is the Boulder Canyon Creek Trail. It’s perfect for all skill levels! This easy to intermediate 4.5-mile hike that follows along Boulder Creek offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. The trail is dog friendly.
0.3 mile south of Highway 128 on Highway 93
Easy to moderate
The Flatirons Vista Trail is 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.
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 Trailhead
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 also will 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.
If you are someone who loves hiking, then this challenging hike, which offers plenty of gorgeous scenery and unobstructed 360-degree views, is the perfect one for you! Bear Peak is Boulder’s second tallest mountain at 8,461 feet, but its combination of beauty and brutality has made it an ever-popular challenge among locals.
It is estimated to take 3.5 to 4.5 hours. This rugged trail consists of switchbacks, stone-stairs, steep segments and passage through recent burn zones. To reach the summit, a brief and easy scramble with excellent hand and footholds awaits along iron-rich, red rock. On a clear day, hikers can see from Pikes Peak to Long Peak and the full range of the Indian Peaks in between. Go explore this wonderful South Boulder hike!
James Peak Wilderness Area
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 9 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 Boulevard/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 8 miles to the trailhead at the Moffat Tunnel.