Best Hiking Trails in the Boulder Area
Boulder, Colorado is an outdoorsperson's paradise, offering an abundant area of outdoor activities all year long. One of the most popular pastimes for both locals and visitors is hiking; with nearly 200 local trails listed on AllTrails.com, there are a lot of choices. Here is a look at some Eric Tardif’s favorite hiking trails in the Boulder area, including those that are perfect for short outdoor getaways or hikes that test endurance and skill.
About Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, Colorado is nestled in the foothills of the Front Range. At an elevation of about one mile above sea level, the area is a transition zone between lower-lying grasslands, forested mid-elevation ecosystems, and alpine terrain. The Boulder metro region is consistently named among the highest in quality of life and well-being among residents. Visitors to the area can take part in arts, culture, and outdoor activities throughout the entire year.
Best Trails in Boulder
Our favorite trails in Boulder are:
Royal Arch Trail – extending for four miles, the Royal Arch Trail is used by hikers, runners, and snowshoers all year long. During the warmer months, the trail is decorated by thousands of wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. As winter approaches, hikers will trade out their boots for showshoes; fresh powder transforms the trail into a winter wonderland.
Green Mountain West Trail – with 700 feet of elevation gain, the 4-mile Green Mountain West Trail is rated as moderate in terms of skill level. Primarily forested, the trail offers glimpses of the Front Range. Several side trails can be explored during the warmer months; in winter, those trails may become slippery with ice. A tremendous amount of wildlife may be encountered. One of the highlights of this trail is the Sacred Cliffs, which are home to nesting raptors.
Mallory Cave – although the eponymous cave is closed to visitors, the Mallory Cave trail remains popular with locals and tourists alike. Forested trails are interspersed with open grasslands dotted with wildflowers in spring and summer. Just over 800 feet of elevation gain make this trail moderately challenging for hikers and trail runners. The trail extends for 3.4 miles and is considered an out-and-back system.
Walker Ranch Loop – for a bit more of a challenge, this 8 mile loop trail features 1637 feet of elevation gain. The trail may be hiked in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The trail is popular with mountain bikers. During winter, some portions of the trail may be impassable due to ice and snow. The average hiker can complete the Walker Ranch Loop in about four hours, which makes it perfect for a half-day adventure.
Red Rocks Trail – at only 1.1 miles in length, the Red Rocks Trail may be accessible for most skill levels, but it doesn’t skimp on beautiful views. Relatively flat trails greet visitors. Side trails offer a bit more of a challenge in negotiating muddy and rocky conditions. The Red Rocks Trail is dog-friendly, and visitors can expect to spot wildlife like deer, foxes, and birds. At the end of the trail is the sandstone formations that give the trail its name. Visitors can enjoy a bit of bouldering and free climbing at the formations.
Eric Tardif in Boulder, CO