City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks. Most of the 150 miles of trails in and close to Boulder are administered by this group. Most trails are open to dogs, provided they are leashed or under voice control and registered with the city's Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program. There are 35 trailheads in and around Boulder. Most are free, but a few require a $5 parking permit for all non-resident vehicles. You can purchase a daily pass either at self-serve kiosks in the mountain parks or at the OSMP office. 66 S. Cherryvale Rd., Boulder, CO, 80303. 303/441–3440. www.osmp.org. Mon.–Fri. 8–5.
Boulder Creek Path. For a relaxing amble with pleasant scenery, take the Boulder Creek Path, which winds from west of Boulder through downtown and past the university to the eastern part of the city—there are multiple places to access the trail. Within the eastern city limits are ponds, gaggles of Canada geese, and prairie-dog colonies. People-watching is also great fun: chances are you'll see cyclists, runners, and parents with their babies in jogging strollers. Walk west along the path from Broadway to Boulder Canyon, and you'll see kayakers negotiating the boulders and inner-tubers cooling off in the summer heat; walk back toward downtown, and you'll have great views of the mountains. Boulder, CO.
Even a short walk up the grassy slope between Chautauqua Park and the base of the mountains brings out hikers and their dogs to take in some sun. On sunny summer mornings the dining hall at Chautauqua Park fills with hungry people ready for a hearty breakfast. Afternoon walkers relax on the park’s gently sloping lawn with a picnic and gaze up at the foothills stretching along the Front Range. To reach the parking lot, take Baseline Road west from Broadway. The park is on the left just past the intersection with 9th Street.
Chautauqua Trail. Locals love the Chautauqua Trail, a 1.6-mile round-trip loop, for its great views of the city and the occasional peeks it provides of rock climbers on the Flatirons. From the trailhead, go up the Chautauqua Trail 0.6 miles to the Bluebell/Baird trail. Go left 0.4 miles and then left again onto the Mesa Trail, which takes you the 0.6 miles back to the parking area. The trail is a long slope at the beginning, but once you're in the trees you won't gain much more elevation. Allow a couple of hours for a leisurely walk. Trailhead:, 900 Baseline Rd., main parking lot, Boulder, CO, 80302.
Royal Arch Trail. The 2-mile round-trip Royal Arch Trail leads to Boulder's own rock arch. The Royal Arch is definitely worth the steep hike, as are the views of the foothills and cities of the Front Range. The trail spurs off the Chautauqua Trail loop and follows along the base of the Flatirons. You'll climb nearly 1,000 feet in 1 mile. Go under the arch to the precipice for the views. If you turn around, the arch frames a couple of Flatirons for a good photo. Trailhead:, 900 Baseline Rd., main parking lot, Boulder, CO, 80302.
Two popular trails on the edge of town get you into the mountains quickly. The parking areas are across the street from each other and fill fast, so it’s best to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Flagstaff Mountain Open Space. Among the hiking options is an easy walk along the Boy Scout Trail to May's Point. It offers glorious views of the city and Boulder Valley along the way and exceptional views of the Indian Peaks once you reach May's Point. The 1.5-mile round-trip trail starts at Sunrise Amphitheater, where it goes to the left into the Douglas-fir forest. After about 0.75 miles and only 140 feet elevation gain, head to the right at the fork in the trail. It's a short distance to May's Point. Trailhead: Drive west on Baseline Rd. to sharp curve to right that is Flagstaff Rd., then turn right at Summit Rd. The trail starts from parking area about ½ mile in., Boulder, CO, 80502.
Green Mountain Loop. Begining in Boulder Mountain Park, this trail rewards ambitious hikers with beautiful vistas of the Front Range and the Indian Peaks. The Gregory Canyon, Ranger, E.M. Greenman, and Saddle Rock trails create a 5.5-mile loop that takes three to four hours to hike. It's a 2,344-foot gain in elevation to Green Mountain's summit at 8,144 feet. Follow the Gregory Canyon Trail to the Ranger Trail, and go left. Stay to the right at the E.M. Greenman Trail. At the intersection with Green Mountain West Ridge Trail, turn left. Go on to the summit and descend along the E.M. Greenman and Saddle Rock trails after taking in the view. Trailhead (Gregory Canyon Trail): Drive west on Baseline Rd. to Flagstaff Rd., and then turn left immediately after curve. Parking area is at end of short road where trail starts., Boulder, CO, 80302.
Red Rocks Loop. Carry a picnic on the Red Rocks Loop and enjoy the mountain and city views. The Red Rocks Trail goes to the right from the parking lot and takes you through wildflowers and grassy meadows on the way up to the rock outcropping. The ½-mile round-trip trek takes about 20 minutes and gains 300 feet. If you have time for the full 2.3-mile loop, allow about an hour. You'll gain most of the 600 feet in elevation change on the way back. Trailhead: Mapleton Ave., 1 mile west of Broadway on left, Boulder, CO, 80302.
Sanitas Valley Loop. Known locally as Mount Sanitas, the Sanitas Valley Loop is a challenging 3-mile hike that provides constant mountain scenery in Sunshine Canyon as you climb nearly 1,000 feet going up the west flank of Mount Sanitas. From the trailhead, head left onto the Mount Sanitas Trail, which becomes the East Ridge Trail as it wraps around the north side of the mountain to the summit. From here you descend a series of sharp, rugged switchbacks to either the Sanitas Valley Trail or the Dakota Ridge Trail, both of which lead back to the parking lot. Be sure not to take the sharp left at the Dakota Ridge intersection, which leads straight downhill to town. Allow two hours. Trailhead: Mapleton Ave., 1 mile west of Broadway on left, Boulder, CO, 80302.