Boulder is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado. The picturesque college towns offer a laid-back cultural environment featuring arts and music, a thriving culinary industry, and virtually unparalleled access to the outdoors.
With more than 155 miles of amazing walking trails available it can be difficult to know where to start. We have compiled our list of the best hikes in Boulder Colorado and detailed information about what to expect and the difficulty level.
Plan ahead, pack plenty of water, grab your best-hiking boots in an effort to enjoy the day.
The Chautauqua Trail boasts spectacular views of the Boulder Flatirons. The easy hike is just 1.2 miles. The trail system is almost crowded every day because it is based in Boulder. Get to the trail early to avoid crowds so you’re not rushing out on the trail. There are other nearby trails like the baseline trail, the bluebell mesa trail, and the ski jumping trail. And your pup will go home untreated. Animal Friendly.
Royal Arch Trail
Colorado’s neighbor to the west, Utah holds undoubtedly the title of most imposing sandstone arches. The Royal Arch Trail is situated from the Chautauqua Park Trailhead. Follow the trail up into the Flatirons Loop Trail, follow the sign for the Royal Arch Trail. Start this climb early in the morning and you will have a more privileged possibility of seeing birds of prey nesting at Bluebell Canyon via which you initially descend before attacking steep stair-stepper tracks. This stunning and naturally formed sandstone Arch perfectly frames Boulder in the background to give the ultimate Colorado photo and if it is clear you can see.
Gregory Canyon offers visitors access to Colorado’s pre-settlers period. The old mining road running up to Black Hawk near the canyon is now shut off in favor of a faster route. The canyon today is a protected habitat offering a respite from the bustle of busy Boulder only two miles east. It is not uncommon to see a bear or two on this route and while there is no eye contact nearby, you will be keen to give them access. I have. The trail offers 900 feet of elevation gain over the first mile or so and will likely have you gasping for breath. It also offers you very spectacular views of Green Mountain and plains.
Lost Lake via the Hessie Trailhead
One of the best backpacking trips in Colorado can be reached by bus. The Hessie Trailhead at Nederland is about 4.4 miles to Lost Lake. You’ll be taken into this alpine lake with options for a return through Devil’s Thumb or King Lake Trail. I’m thinking dog friendly: Absolutely. All dogs must abide with leash freedom. Probably two if not three. It’s all on lasses not on the sled. No leashes at the door.
The first and second Flatiron
Follow the steep route that winds through between First and Second Flatiron. If you’re in need of challenges take the road back down on solid grounds. You may need to use your hands several times. All-around happy furry friend. The hike goes 3.9 miles and must be left with your own leash. The trail is one of Boulder’s most popular and it’s easy to walk with my dog along this trail.
Take the Chautauqua Way and follow signs toward the Royal Arch. Be on steep rocks in case you reach a structure that resists its gravity. Definitely the best hike near Boulder at sunrises. Yes, leashed. Dog-friendly. There are no limits. The best way to reach the arch is to explore the Flatirons in Boulder Colorado about 4.00 miles on the trail.
This 3-mile route takes you to the top of the powerful Mount Sanitas. Crowds are common so be ready for the morning sun or shared trails before sunset. The dogs are friendliness – yes the ones with chains. The trail is close to Sunshine canyon, at the trailhead of Mt. Sanitas Trailhead.
Fowler Trail in Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the best spacious trails near Boulder. The 1st half-mile of the Fowler Trail is wheelchair accessible. For a larger challenge take the branching climber’s hiking trail along this course. The dogs are leashed. All right. Leash freeze. For an easier, easy hike along nearby Boulder check Fowler Trail.
Rattlesnake Gulch Loop
Rattlesnake Gulch Loop marries local history with natural beauty in Eldorado Canyon State Park. From here you can see the ruins of the historic Crags Hotel, a hillside resort built in 1908 and reached by funicular in 1912. The canyon provides spectacular views over the Continental Divide from where the state’s drainage circuit divides itself between two flowing rivers leading towards the Atlantic and Pacific ocean basins giving you a real feeling of how special Colorado’s. The best way to hike the tall sandstone cliffs is to watch the rock climbers in the canyon where you can pause to see them.
Best taken from April and October this popular back and forth trail is likely to be one of the best hikes nearby Colorado. Avoid crowds and follow the southern part of the Trail at the head of El Dorado and South Mesa Trail. The hike is quite longer but there are several different trailheads here that allow you to adapt this hike to your own personal needs. You will enjoy a variety of stunning views just beneath the flatirons and foothill peaks of the highest mountain in Colorado. The trail is moderate to moderate and dog friendly but it’s a great place to get out of the woods.
It’s the smallest of Colorado’s five peaks. It is a favorite with locals. The climb is quite unrelenting until you get to the summit. At the highest point pick a rock slab that you can lay down. Return the same direction in which you came or keep on the East Ridge Trail for a rewarding loop. Back at the junction point, we get a good walk back to the town for a refreshing drink. Return to the original trailhead is a few minutes walk from downtown a few minutes west of the intersection of 4th and Mapleton. Take first left to start on a steep but shaded ascent. So I’m in town.
Bear Peak Trail
Bear Peak is the second tallest of Boulder’s five peaks and offers a steep challenge to even seasoned hiking enthusiasts. The granite mountain provides a great place to recover with superb views of the Plain Mountains to the east and the Rocky Mountain Mountains to the west. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can also climb Boulder’s tallest peak South Boulder Peak on the way up and return via Fern Canyon on an adventurous loop from 74.9 miles.
Green Mountain Loop via Chautauqua Trail
Colorado’s Chautauqua Park features 40 miles of hiking trails. With 2,400 feet of elevation gain this hike offers a truly peak experience culminating in panoramic views without actually departing Boulder city limits. There are lots of various routes up Greenmount, but we prefer this loop for its gentle beginning through a meadow of wildflowers and breathtaking views of the Flatirons up above at the entrance before a very steep climb. The Green Mountain Trail Loop Trek 6.2 miles to the summit of Boulder’s Green Mountain Trail is an uphill hike.
4th of July Trailhead: Arapaho Pass Trail
Trailhead #4 of July is an easy-to-complete hike near Boulder. There is some choice of hikes to this site. The easiest way to see an incredible view of the Indian Peakes Wilderness Area is via the Arapaho Pass Trail. The mountaineers must definitely climb Skywalker Couloir, this challenging snow pile is composed of almost 70-degree layers of steep snow. The best way to reach the peak of South Arapaho Peak one of the finest 13 mountains in Denver is to head to the Fourth of July Mine via a trail to the Ararapa. The trail is 41.2 miles.
Flatirons Loop Trail is a great way to explore it without gear or big climb. Start from Chautauqua Trailhead and follow signs for Flatiron Loop Trail. You are welcomed on the moderate two-mile trails which wind through the open meadows and ponderosa pine forest. Return via Bluebell Road Trail for an enjoyable loop.
This easily accessible trail back and forth is perfect for the whole family. It culminates in a stunning waterfall, which makes it a must-do hike near Boulder. It’s used most between November March and November and it’s easy and safe to pet. The hike is also popular during the week so try and visit it during the weekends and it is also a great way to get out to the park in November and February. The trail is also a popular activity option for dog lovers and visitors can explore history.
Boulder Skyline Traverse
The Boulder Skyline Traverse crosses the summits of Mountaineer Peak, South Boulder Peak Green Mountain Flagstaff Mount Sanitas. You’ll need to go to the airport or get someone to take you away except you want to try again. The 14-mile hike is extremely challenging for dogs but is very dog-friendly during trekking. The hiking lines cover five peaks including Bear Peak and Green Mountain. The climb is a simple way and requires a shuttle vehicle or some friends to help.
Boulder Hiking Pro-Tips
Hiking is about the day more or less. Trailheads such as Hessie Trailhead, Chautauqua Open Space, and Eldorado State Park are usually filled especially during weekends. Reach the trailhead within 7 a.m. during the summer days and within 6:00 b.m. in winter. If you want to hike on a weekend, start at 7 am to avoid crowds. It would be possible to get even luckier during winter and hike with good temperatures on an amazing sunny day. Read on to find out my guide for hiking in Colorado.
Check the weather
All numbered trails are available in all seasons. Please follow local weather forecasts. Take care when the winds move in the afternoon. Winter winds can also render high mountain views including Bear peak extremely unpleasant. Check the hourly forecast to avoid falling an hour away from the trailhead in a wet storm. Bring some microspike sacks for a snow hike. Some rocky trails including the Royal Arch and Sanctuary can be risky without the appropriate equipment. Check out the hourly temperatures before heading out in flimsy conditions. All trails are accessible in all seasonal accessibility and are available in the winter.