Sammy Dallal
Joy Shanley hikes up the Mount Sanitas trail a Boulder favorite.

There are so many amazing trails here, it’s hard to know where to start hiking.

We’re here to help.

First time out, all you have to do is chose one and put one foot in front of the other. And in Boulder, you can keep hiking new trails year-round until you find your favorite.

Join the club

The CU Hiking Club, founded in 1919, is the longest-running student organization on campus. Go to for details, including their trip schedule. Membership is $20 for a year.

1 Royal Arch

3.5 miles (out-and-back/loop)

This hike to a hidden arch in the Flatirons is a local favorite.

The trail is steep and the payoff is big — you’ll get up close and personal with the Flatirons along the way, and the impressive arch, which is right off the trail, serves as a 20-foot frame for far-reaching views.

Royal Arch is a great early-morning hike on hot days. It’ll be sunny through the meadows around Chautauqua, but you’ll find shade in the upper stretches of trail.

Trailhead: Chautauqua Park, west Baseline Road

2 Mount Santias

3.4 miles (loop)

This steep loop is a Boulder classic, and a great way to squeeze in an uphill workout before or after class. Go clockwise to go with the flow of traffic (this is how most people hike and run it). You’ll catch peeks of higher peaks to the west, chill on the rocky summit, then enjoy the easy cruise down the valley trail at the end.

Like to climb? Look for bouldering spots on the way up.

Trailhead: Two parking areas on either side of Sunshine Canyon Drive, just west of Fourth Street

3 Bear Peak

6.3 miles (lollipop)

Make your own mini-epic.

Bear Peak rises about 3,000 over town, guarded by Flatirons. Power up the steep Fern Canyon Trail through forest to the summit (bonus points for tacking on the summit of South Boulder Peak, just to the south), then descend a longer route via the Bear Peak West Ridge and Bear Canyon trails.

It’s a tough day out, right from town. Sweet.

Look for bears — but you’re more likely to see dogs.

Trailhead: National Center for Atmospheric Research, west end of Table Mesa Drive.

4 Betasso Preserve

3 miles (loop)

Betasso’s Canyon Loop Trail is uber-popular (because it’s so good!) with hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers, so don’t expect solitude — make new friends.

Boulder County started building a new trail off the Canyon Loop last fall. Look for the opening of the Benjamin Trail in 2011, or get involved now and help build it. Check the county Parks and Open Space site for trail-building opportunities.

Trailhead: Head west up Boulder Canyon (Canyon Boulevard) about 4 miles from the edge of town to Sugarloaf Road. Go north on Sugarloaf Road 0.9 miles to Betasso; right to two trailheads.

5 Eldorado Canyon Trail

3.5 miles one way; add on Walker Ranch for a 14-mile loop

This trail from the end of the canyon climbs away from the rushing creek to reveal big views of the canyon and its towering walls. Skirt boulders and yucca, spy climbers high on the canyon’s upper walls and fight off the vertigo as you climb to viewpoints of Denver and the Indian Peaks.

Trailhead: Visitor Center parking lot at Eldorado Canyon State Park, just west of Eldorado Springs.

blog comments powered by Disqus