Boulder Outside: Hike the Best Views in Boulder County

Although we are apparently still getting snow in Colorado, summer is quickly approaching and you know what that means… time to hike! We’ve compiled a list of hikes with the best views in Boulder County, so read on for our top picks (in order of difficulty):

1. Easy Hikes

Photo: Ali DeCarlo via alltrails.com

Foothills Trail to Wonderland Lake Loop Trail | Boulder

First up, we have Wonderland Lake Loop Trail. Located in North Boulder, this 2.9 mile hike is classified as easy because of its flat trail that is moderately trafficked by runners, walkers, and hikers. With great views of the flatirons and a lake and little elevation gain, this is the perfect spot for families with young kids looking for a scenic outdoor activity. 

Parking is free and available at the trailhead. Don’t forget to look out for the wildflowers and paragliders while you’re there.

Photo: Trisha Vallone via alltrails.com

Davidson Mesa Loop Trail | Louisville

Right in Louisville, Davidson Mesa Loop Trail is a popular spot for good reason – just look at that view of the Flatirons! This easy walk is 3.3 miles and only 65 feet of elevation gain. If you are in the market for a flat trail with spectacular views of the Boulder Front Range, this may be your spot. 

One thing worth mentioning is to avoid this trail on a windy day. Because it’s an open space, it’s pretty exposed and the wind can make it difficult to enjoy. Parking is available for free at the trailhead, but Davidson does get busy. Try to go on a weekday as it fills up on the weekends.

Photo: Shiloh Heilman via alltrails.com

Teller Farms (East Boulder) Trail | Boulder

Our last easy trail is a personal favorite of mine, located in Lafayette on the way to Boulder. Teller Farms East Boulder Trail is longer than the previously mentioned trails at 6.7 miles with 193 feet of elevation gain. 

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll particularly like this one. There are horses and cows in a lot of the open space, along with many dogs as they’re allowed both on and off-leash here, depending on their tags. Parking is available for free at the trailhead. 

Pro tip: this is an especially great spot for sunset hikes! The view of the flatirons is spectacular.

2. Moderate Hikes

Photo: Kevin Wolff via alltrails.com

Chautauqua Trail | Boulder

Up first for our moderate hikes is one of Boulder’s most famous hiking trails: Chautauqua Trail. This is a heavily-trafficked trail, but for good reason. You can’t get this close to the flatirons anywhere else. 

This trail is steeper than our easier ones, with 419 feet of elevation gain over 1.2 miles. With great city views on the way to the top, we recommend doing it on a clear day! It’s also a great spot for a sunrise or sunset hike. 

Parking is available at the base of the trailhead, which you have to pay for. Parking fills up quickly, so we recommend getting there earlier is possible. There is also paid parking available on some of the neighboring side streets.

Photo: DeAnn Gonzales via alltrails.com

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Ramble Trail | Boulder

Also located in Boulder is the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Ramble Trail. NCAR is a cool place to visit in the first place (and a great spot for kids or visiting family members), but they also have a ton of awesome trails. 

Ramble Trail specifically has incredible views of the flatirons and Boulder, beautiful wild flowers, and a moderate level of difficulty. The length of the loop is 3.4 miles with 721 feet of elevation. Alltrails recommends hiking the trail between April and October for the best experience. 

Like many of these trails, parking is available for free at the trailhead (look for signs to NCAR).

Photo: Arin Chakraverty via alltrails.com

Lost Lake via Hessie Trail | Nederland

This list wouldn’t be complete for Boulder County without a hike in Nederland, Colorado. Lost Lake via Hessie Trail is accessible year-round for hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking and even camping! The trail is a 4 mile out & back route with almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain. 

Located in Roosevelt National Forest, Lost Lake makes for a perfect lunch spot after your hike. According to AllTrails, the first half mile is easy, but then the trail climbs steeply. If you want to get to the Lost Lake Trail, you’ll need to stay left and follow the Devils Thumb Bypass. 

This is a really popular trail, so parking lots fill up quickly during the weekend. There’s a free shuttle service that picks hikers up near Nederland High School.

3. Difficult Hikes

Photo: Ty Truong via alltrails.com

Royal Arch Trail | Boulder

Royal Arch Trail, located in Boulder, is a difficult yet extraordinary spot. The 3.1 mile out & back route boasts almost 1,500 feet of elevation gain. This is considered the hardest trail in the area, but if you’re able to do it, the view makes up for it!

The parking situation is the same as Chautauqua Trail. Parking is available at the base of the trailhead, which you have to pay for. Parking fills up quickly, so we recommend getting there earlier is possible. There is also paid parking available on some of the neighboring side streets. 

Keep your eyes open for wildlife too – many people have seen deer, birds, beautiful wild flowers and even bears.

Photo: Ruby Juarez via alltrails.com

Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Loop Trail | Boulder

Mount Sanitas is a difficult and beautiful hike. If you’re in Boulder only for the day or weekend, this is often one of the must-do hikes locals will recommend. Although it’s a leg-burner, the gorgeous views of Boulder down below are amazing (trust me, better than the photos). 

At the trailhead, there’s limited parking which fills up quickly, so arrive early if you can. If it’s full, don’t worry – there’s more parking on the street up and down the road.

Photo: Brandon White via alltrails.com

Walker Ranch Loop | Boulder

Let’s summit all up with Walker Ranch Loop, a 7.9 mile heavily trafficked trail in Boulder. You can do this loop in either direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) and you won’t miss the beautiful views of the river. Because of the difficulty of this hike, we recommend going before the weather gets too hot. 

There are nearly 50 parking spots at the trailhead, but it does get busy especially on weekends so you’ll want to arrive earlier than later. 

Happy Hiking!

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