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Whenever I get the chance to go for a hike, I like to spend a few minutes, sometimes more, trying to understand what kind of trail is right for me that day.  Some days I want to spend time in the foothills meadows, taking in the amazing sights of the Flatirons as they reach for the sky.  Other days I prefer a forest hike, keeping a keen eye out for Abert's squirrels hiding in the Ponderosas, or a bear grazing an open valley below.  In the heat of the summer I typically venture higher into upper parts of the forested Montane, Sub-Alpine or Alpine regions where it's cooler.  Understanding what trail you are today requires some self-reflection, a consideration of the time of year you visit Boulder, where you are coming from, and the current prevailing weather.  Don't worry, we’ll cover those details and more in the next pages.  And, of course, as you learn more about hiking in Boulder County, please feel free to drop us an email if you have any questions.  We'll do our best to help assist you in making your visit as enjoyable as possible.

Chasm Lake Trail (D.8)

Once you are ready, picking the trail you want to hike first is simple.  Each trail featured on Beyond Boulder will come with a challenge ranking from G.1 - D.9 with description of difficulty.  Easy hikes are labeled in progressive difficulty ranges from G.1 - G.3.  Intermediate hikes are labeled progressively from B.4 - B.6.  Difficult hikes from D.7 - D.9.  To be very clear, I've strived to define the challenge rankings to be accurate for the visiting hiker to Boulder.  Someone who has not been at altitude, who is not accustomed to hikes with significant elevation gain, and who may not be an avid outdoors person.  In other words, unlike the bookstore guidebooks, who are catering to a broad audience, these hikes are ranked to favor those unfamiliar with hiking in the Rockies.  That said, there is no reason someone who is an experienced hiker should not enjoy these hikes.  They are what I've experienced to be some of the most beautiful hikes in Boulder County, just not the most arduous.

Most importantly, each guided hike comes with a description of what makes that trail special.  You simply pick the one that sounds right for you based on challenge and attraction, then Beyond Boulder will provide you with all the information you need.  I highly recommend an Easy hike for your first outing.  I promise you won’t be disappointed, and if it ends up being too easy for you or your group, or not long enough, have another on standby.  Again, the goal of Beyond Boulder is to leave you wanting more, not drive you away from hiking.  Intermediate hikes will challenge the new or unfamiliar hiker and should only be attempted later in your visit when you have better acclimated to the local geography and altitude, and you have a better understanding of your abilities in mountain hiking.  Difficult hikes are for those visitors who have become comfortable with the local terrain and altitude, are in good physical shape, and have the stamina for longer, loftier hikes.  Difficult hikes should be considered and prepared for with some serious reflection as they will often be full-day events containing steep ascents, long rocky passages, and perhaps some minimum exposure.  I have not included any trails on this website where I have felt uncomfortable in the least with exposure to falling.

A 'Yella' Bellied Marmot sunning in the Alpine zone.

Got your interest?  I hope so!  Let's move on to the Benefits of Mountain Hiking...