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  • Writer's pictureZachary Epps

5 Great Hikes Boulder Colorado

Hiking is a very popular recreational activity for people in Boulder. During most of the year, from basically late March through late October everyone in Boulder seems to love to take advantage of the city’s many mountain parks and trails. Besides these top picks, there are so many others you can choose from to enjoy a great workout on numerous scenic paths in and around town.

McClintock Trail

The McClintock trail in Boulder is part of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). You can access it near Chautauqua park, and if you arrive early in the morning just go south on 12th from Baseline Road and park at the PicNic shelter behind the Chautauqua Auditorium.

The trailhead is directly opposite the shelter, and drops down into the forest on a nice single track. If you're fit, you can make it up this trail to where it intersects with the Mesa Trail in about 15-20 minutes. Lots of shade, beautiful trees and flowers, and if you're lucky you can sometimes spot some wildlife. Usually deer, although I've seen fox, and once spotted a bobcat early in the morning.

Mesa Trail

The Mesa Trail basically runs all the way from Chautauqua Park to Eldorado Springs Drive (Hwy 170). Many people choose to start at the picnic shelter behind the Chautauqua Auditorium. Similar to McClintock, you can park at the picnic shelter, and if there's not room, park in the neighborhood just west of the shelter. Instead of dropping down into the forest like you would to follow McClintock, you'll see a forest access road. Follow that into the forest instead. It's a very leisurely hike and a relatively wide trail. You can make this a long hike and go all the way to Eldorado, or swing over to NCAR (restrooms there year 'round), and even explore up a steep path to the Woods Quarry. Just follow your nose, and the signs.

Chautauqua Trail

At Baseline Road and Grant Place is the entrance to Chautauqua Park. Grant actually changes names to Kinnikinnik when you enter the park. Turn south into the park and immediately on your right will be a small parking lot adjacent to the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage. The Chautauqua Trail starts right behind the ranger cottage. You can either head directly onto the Chautauqua Trail from there and on up into the OSMP, or hang left and go up what looks like a road (it once was) up to the Bluebell shelter. Whatever your choice, these trails lead up into the forest and connect with many other trail options.

Royal Arch Trail

One excellent option is the Royal Arch Trail. If you choose the left trail (Bluebell) from the Ranger station in Chautauqua Park, you can catch the trail up to Royal Arch from the Bluebell shelter. It's only a bit less than a mile to the picnic shelter, and about a mile up from there to the Royal Arch. once past the picnic shelter the trail becomes pretty steep and there's a lot of up and down through the forest, and the payoff is worth it. The views at the Royal Arch are spectacular. If it's a hot day, don't miss the 'cave' on your right about 3/4 of the way up. It's a big slab of rock you can sit inside and the temperature is always much cooler in there, plus it's shady too. Royal Arch is just below the 5th Flatiron. Yes, that's right, the 5th Flatiron. Many people think there's only three... but there are five.

Gregory Canyon Trail

If you would like another great option in the same basic area, check out Gregory Canyon. The trailhead is just on your left where Baseline Road turns a sharp right and becomes Flagstaff Road. Instead of going right, hook a left and you'll enter the parking area for the Gregory Canyon Trailhead. The trail meanders through forest and lush vegetation along Gregory Creek for about a mile. There's an option to swing right onto the Crown Rock trail about 1/3 of a mile in if you want a variation. Sometimes parking is difficult at this trailhead, as it also is around Chautauqua Park. However, there's parking along Baseline Road and in the University Hill neighborhood on the north side of Baseline. Any of those choices are reasonable, and an easy walk to the Gregory Canyon trailhead.

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