Boulder’s close proximity to dozens of stellar hiking trails makes it an incredible place to live or visit if you love to hike. While most people in American cities struggle with finding good hiking options nearby, there are so many great trails close to Boulder the dilemma is knowing which ones to spend time exploring.
This list of trails near Boulder are ones you won’t want to miss:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Boulder’s scenic backdrop isn’t anything to sneeze at, but people travel further north to Rocky Mountain National Park from around the world to experience its astounding natural beauty. About an hour’s drive north of town, this national treasure is loaded with 355 miles of hiking trails.
From pleasant nature walks to trails that feature grueling alpine inclines, there’s more than enough diversity here to please every hiker in your group. And though it’s relatively close to Boulder, there are great places to camp or rent a cabin for the night after your day of exploring one of America’s most pristine and celebrated natural offerings.
Betasso Preserve trails
Home to seven short but rewarding trails, the Betasso Preserve is a day use area that offers easy, moderate, and difficult hiking. The preserve sits just west of Boulder immersed in bucolic foothills that are dotted with evergreen trees and rock formations. In addition to hiking, leashed dogs and horseback riding are permitted here. If you’re dying to get out on the trail in a hurry, this spot is just 15 minutes away.
Boulder Canyon Trail
Because this trail connects to the Boulder Creek Path in town and explores the gorgeous canyon of its namesake, it can get awfully crowded, even on weekdays. But if you don’t mind company, it’s an easy and enjoyable two-mile hike that will take you into the mountains just west of town.
Enchanted Mesa Trail
Clocking in at almost three miles, this loop is an easy hike that starts just south of Chautauqua Park. Moderately used, the Enchanted Mesa Trail offers some of the best views of the flatirons in the area. The trail is open year-round, but if you visit during the winter, wear the appropriate footwear to avoid slipping on the ice.
Lion’s Lair Trail
One of the most popular and beloved hikes near Boulder, the Lions’ Lair Trail treks through lush steep inclines of mountainous evergreen forests. It’s generally thought of as one of the prettiest hikes in the area.
With an 810-foot elevation gain, the Lion’s Lair is a four-mile out and back trail that gets tough towards the end. It provides stellar views of the surrounding mountains and the sprawling Front Range Urban Corridor.
Chautauqua Trail Overlook
Another hike that delivers sublime views of the flatirons, the Chautauqua Trail Overlook is a moderately challenging and popular trail that starts just outside of the Chautauqua Park. Under the right conditions, this short hike delivers surreal above-the-clouds views and picturesque wildflower scenes.
But be warned: between this trail’s close proximity to town and its beauty, it’s an extremely popular trail. However, if you show up on a weekday morning, you’ll probably have most of it to yourself.
A quick 15-minute drive south of Boulder, a hike on the Flatirons Vista trail will take you through bucolic grasslands and meadows. Wildlife is bountiful on this trail, and you might see deer, bobcats, and even bears while you hike.
This three-mile loop is said to be a rewarding hike, but make sure your car is locked and that your belongings are out of site. Numerous reviews of this trail mention car theft occurring in the trailhead parking lot.
Located just southwest of town off of Flagstaff Road, this trailhead provides access to numerous hikes that range from easy to challenging levels of difficulty. Compared to the immense popularity of the nearby trails surrounding Chautauqua Park, local hikers love this network of trails because it’s easy to access and far less crowded.
None of the trails here are particularly long, but the steep elevation gains of the Flagstaff are said to be challenging, making it ideal for experienced hikers looking for something to keep them occupied without taking much of their time.
Featuring three easy trails set at the length of around three miles each, the Coalton Trailhead is located just north of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge. Compared to the popularity of the trails west of Boulder, these hikes are considerably less crowded. You’ll pass through vast grasslands that offer excellent views of the flatirons and surrounding mountains on these trails.
Centennial Park Trailhead
Located on the western edge of Boulder in picturesque foothills, the Centennial Park Trailhead delivers access to a network of short trails. Ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half long, these trails offer stellar views of red rock formations, the sprawling city of Boulder, and the surrounding mountains.
These hikes are relatively easy, but you won’t have to look for if you’re in need of more of a challenge. Across the street from the trailhead you’ll find to the Mount Sanitas Trailhead, a difficult three-mile loop trail.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail
A popular hike in the mountains just west of town, the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is just over a mile long and is considered to be moderately challenging. It’s a great option for getting a quick 45-minute hike in without going far from town. Reaching the top of this out and back trail offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and of the city of Boulder.
Those are among the best places for hiking around Boulder County, Colorado.