31 Great Hikes Around Boulder, Colorado

Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake

Brainard Lake Recreation Area (BLRA) offers some of the best hikes to get you up close and personal to the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks.  With grand views of Mt. Toll, Paiute Peak and Mt. Audubon the trail to Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake is arguably one of the prettiest and breathtaking hikes in Boulder County.  Blue Lake is by far the highest and deepest of the five major alpine lakes in the BLRA, rising well above the tree line at 11,340'.  Its depth makes it a good spot for pulling in a few beautiful native Colorado Greenback Cutthroat trout if you are into fly fishing.  But long before you make your way to Blue Lake you will discover the other beautiful alpine lake on this trip, Mitchell, hiding in a grove of Ponderosa pine, nestled under the shadow of Mt. Audubon.  Get all the details here...

4th of july trail to diamond lake

Diamond Lake alternates between open vista trail where you're subconscious will have you humming the theme to Sound of Music, and dark, pine-shadowed path that can leave you feeling a bit like your name is Hansel or Gretel.   In early summer the trail abounds with water crossings from snow melt providing some impressive cascade falls.  It is also a great destination for high alpine fly fishing. Check out all the details on our latest hike, Diamond Lake.

Lion's Lair - The BEST New Trail in Boulder!

Lion's Lair is an example of how new hiking trails should be built.  It's smooth, leveraging long, flowing switchbacks, and makes the climb to Mt Sanitas not only very doable, but gorgeous as well.  There are several places to stop on the 2.3 mile ascent to rest and even have lunch if you desire.  Of the hikes to any of the four main peaks of Boulder (Mt Sanitas, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, and South Boulder Peak), this one is by far the easiest.  Check out the newest two hikes on Beyond Boulder that include Boulder's latest, and perhaps greatest, trail within the city limits, Lion's Lair and Lion's Lair and Mt. Sanitas Ridge Loop

A boulder classic TRAIL

The Flatiron Loop Trail is a Chautauqua tradition.  Who doesn't want to stare up at one of the massive flatirons or maybe take a quick scrabble up one?  If you aren't sure what the Flatirons are, you aren't alone.  Check out the brief blog article What The Heck Are The Flatirons for an introduction.  The Flatiron Loop is typically accessed via the well-known Chautauqua Trail and returned via the Bluebell Rd Trail.  It is a beautiful hike through open meadows, pine forest, rock falls, and valley floor.  It is not an easy hike, rising a little over 700' in a mile to the base of the 2nd flatiron.  It is also very rocky in places both on the ascent and descent.  While I would love every visitor to make this hike, it is not for everyone.  Check out all the details here...


Best HIKE FOR summer shade

Ranger Greenman is a beautiful, moderately easy 2.8 mile out and back hike that traverses Ponderosa pine forest, features great views, smooth surfaces, shade from the summer sun and gorgeous vistas of both Boulder and the Continental Divide.  It starts at 6750' so it will be a cooler hike on those hot, dry summer days in Boulder.  And it's a hike just about everyone can enjoy with many spots to stop, rest, and take gorgeous pictures.  Find all the details for Ranger Greenman and many more great Boulder County hikes here...

The Beyond Boulder Project

Beyond Boulder has been designed specifically for both visiting and local hikers in Boulder who desire the experience of real mountain trails, but at a more relaxed and less rigorous pace, anticipating that the altitude, dry climate, and vertical climbing will be factors in their enjoyment.  The trails presented in Beyond Boulder, along with pre-trip preparation, day-of-hike tips, recommended gear, maps, trailhead directions and 'après–hike' recommendations are designed to deliver the casual hikers in this amazing city an unequaled mountain experience, one that will take them... Beyond Boulder.    



Best Hike Close To Downtown

The observation that stuck in my mind throughout my hike up Vistapoint and Flagstaff trails to the top of Flagstaff Mountain on an unusually warm day in early March was one of contrast.  The mountain solitude of the trail contrasting with sounds of traffic on Flagstaff Rd.  The warm, golden morning light shining in the open pastures contrasting with the cold blue winter hues in the tree-shaded forest.  Dry, rocky trail sections contrasting with long, wet stretches still covered in the last snowfall from several days earlier.  And finally, the contrast of the urban trailhead with the beautiful Montane forest you experience at the top of Flagstaff mountain.  Check out this great spring hike here...

Woods Quarry via Four pines

There really is something about a solitary hike in the snow, one that is made even more extraordinary when it is still snowing completely gonzo, with big, fat, wet flakes weighting down your shell and settling on your face.  The silence is complete.  And it is welcome.  So much so that when you do come upon another soul you find yourself disappointed that you really aren't the only person in the woods that day.  But, they aren't there for long.  Their sound comes to you when they are no more than 20' away and is soon gone again, along with their appearance as they turn a bend and pass back into the Ponderosas.  Find your peace on a hike to Woods Quarry via Four Pines and Kohler Mesa.

Best Easy hike for families

Tenderfoot is the perfect first trail for your visit to explore Boulder mountain beauty.  It's only 345' of elevation gain and totals just a little over 1.8 miles out and back.  Boasting smooth surfaces and beautiful flora, it offers some of the best views of the Continental Divide in the Boulder city limits.  It should be combined with a picnic at the summit of Flagstaff Mountain where there are many picnic tables and shelters offering great views of the city and divide.  Find all the details for Tenderfoot and many more great Boulder County hikes here...

BEST Alpine Lakes hike

You'll be hard pressed to find a more scenic alpine lake than Lake Isabelle.  Situated in the cirque of the Indian Peaks it offers unequaled views of the Continental Divide and Isabelle glacier.   It is located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (BLRA), part of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area (IPWA).  On this hike you will be provided with many memorable views of the Indian Peaks, Niwot Ridge, Isabelle Glacier and Mt. Audubon.  This moderate hike is an extension of the easier Long Lake Trail  that circles Long Lake.  Get the complete trail guide details here...

Brewery Rides and Guides On A Hiking Site?!?

Yes!  There's a lot more to Beyond Boulder than great trail recommendations, just like there's a lot more to Boulder than beautiful mountains.  Get information on all the things you need to know before you head out onto the trails in Boulder County in our Discover section.

Think you might be thirsty for a world-famous craft brew after your hike?  You aren't alone.  Many Boulderites can be found on sunny afternoons biking around Boulder, enjoying some of the local craft beers on the patio or deck of any of the micro- or nano-breweries in Boulder County.  Join them with our Bike To Breweries guide!  It's 13.2 miles of beautiful bike paths and dedicated bike lanes to five of Boulder's best micro-breweries.  Finally, check out our Après–hike section at the end of each trail guide!  There you will find a recommended beer, brewery, and directions to said suds.  You won't be disappointed as Boulder is host to over 20 breweries, some of them serving great food to boot, and many of them recognized nationally. 


10 Things You Gotta Try In Boulder

Visiting Guest Hike: Three Island Lake, Steamboat Springs, CO

Yes, it's true.  We are smitten with all the wonderful trails in Boulder County.  But, we have to admit there are so many wonderful places to hike in this great country.  So, what do we do when we come across a great hike outside of Boulder County?  We make a Visiting Guest Hike!  Here is our late summer offering: Three Island Lake near Steamboat Springs, CO.  Try it out if you are ever near Steamboat.  It's amazing!

The mountains are calling and I must go.
— John Muir

All photography by the author except where noted.