BY LAUREN MORENO AND ERINN QUINTANA
Boulder is known for it’s beautiful landscape and mountains, while also being known as one of the healthiest cities in the U.S. That being said, many people who reside in this city love to be fit and exercise whenever possible. One major way that these residents indulge in exercise is through hiking. Whether it be a simple or vigorous trail, hiking allows for the opportunity to be fit while enjoying the wonderful scenery Boulder has to offer. Although Boulder provides many trails, Chautauqua, Mount Sanitas, and Flagstaff Mountain are our three favorite trails that we would like to recommend to both advance hikers and beginners. These hikes offer great views, physical activity, and an unforgettable experience!
9th St. and Baseline Road
The most popular place to hike in Boulder is Chautauqua Park. It is a must for anyone who is visiting Boulder because of the lovely Flatirons that go along with it. It contains multiple trails that range from easy to difficult and it is 100% dog friendly. The most difficult part of hiking Chautauqua is the the trail up to the variety of trails. You’ll know you’re there when that hill seems like it’s never going to end.
Chautauqua Park is home to the three gorgeous Flatirons you can see from anywhere in Boulder. You can not only hike the featured eight trails there but you can also climb one of them! To do this you just need to take the Chautauqua trail to the Second-Third Flatiron trail and you will access the Third-Flatiron trail. The great thing about Chautauqua park is that whether you have 45 minutes or all day there is a trail here for you. The shorter trails such as the Second-Third flatiron trail give you a gorgeous view of the back of the Flatirons. From here you can see mountains extend for miles with not a city view in sight. Now if you’re looking for something a little heavier and long, the Royal Arch trail is perfect. It is less condensed with hikers so it’s not as demanding to get there early in the morning like the other trails at Chautauqua and features all the gorgeous wild flowers in the park, and of course, the infamous Royal Arch.
0.5 mile west of 4th Street on Mapleton Avenue
Another must do in Boulder is Mount Sanitas Trailhead. This trail is a very popular one as well, so your best time to hike this is in the middle of the week or early morning. Despite the foot traffic that goes through here, it is very worth it. This trail is a semi-steep three-mile hike (dogs are welcome), so if you start early mid-morning you’ll be done in time to enjoy a wonderful healthy lunch around town. It is a trail loop and all adult skill level hikers are welcome to it. Children are, of course, also welcome but they may get a little tired walking up. There are two ways to complete the trail loop: if you want to just take the steps up take the east side (start on the trail then down the valley) and if you want a little of a challenge that is straight up with a ton of switchbacks take the valley first and come back down the trail. Watch out for the trail runners! The city view from here is amazing but do not forget about going a little further west on the trail to see the gorgeous views of the rest of Boulder.
3.4 miles up Flagstaff Road, to Realization Point, then 0.5 miles on Flagstaff Summit Road
For those that love to hike or just want to drive up for the view, the Flagstaff Trailhead is perfect for you! It is relatively steep the whole way up and has many gentle switchbacks. The hikes will take you in and out of the forest, opening up for beautiful views of the Boulder area at Panorama point and at Lost Gulch. The final stretch takes you to the Flagstaff Mountain summit area, which has many amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and even an amphitheater. Although this mountain offers an amazing hike, it is also extremely popular for those who would rather not climb a trail. Rather than hiking up, there is an option to drive all the way to the summit. If you do decide to drive, you can park in the designated spots, and walk over to the giant rocks that sit on top of a cliff. Many people come up here to take pictures, relax, and to enjoy the breaktaking view.