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    Boulder's Flatirons

    Best Hikes with Great Views in Boulder

    There’s nothing like a breathtaking view to reward all the sweat and hard work you put in on a hiking trail. Most every trail in Boulder has a refreshing vista or two, but the following offer particularly outstanding panoramas, making them some of the best hikes near Denver.

    Help protect Boulder's natural beauty by remembering these Mountain Manners, and before you go, check here for trail closures due to trail conditions.

    1. Wonderland Lake Loop Trail

    Wonderland Lake in FallDifficulty: Easy
    Distance: 1.5 mile
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (No Fee)
    This pretty little lake is nestled among neighborhoods and parkland in the foothills of North Boulder. As you start on the flat, pleasant, looping trail, you’ll enjoy the distant Flatirons reflected in the water. Keep an eye out for paragliders, who use the top of the Wonderland Hill Trail as a launch point.


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    2. Flatirons Vista

    Flatirons Vista Trail
    Photo: Jeremiah LaRocco/Flickr Creative Commons

    Difficulty: Easy
    Distance: 3.5 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Fee)
    While the most iconic views of the Flatirons are from the Chautauqua Trailhead, this trail south of town stands at a distance to the iconic formations, giving you unparalleled views of the whole mountain range. Equally great for trail runners and families, the open landscape of this trail (bring plenty of sunscreen) gives you a sense of scale and geography you won’t get on trails that lead directly into the foothills. Plus, for those who want a longer trek, plenty of connecting trails make it possible.


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    3. Chapman Drive and Tenderfoot Trail

    Chapman Trail

    Difficulty: Moderate
    Distance: 2.5 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Fee)
    The drive alone, up Flagstaff Mountain to Realization Point, is a great way to take in views of the University of Colorado’s red-tile rooftops and all of Boulder below. Once on the trail, start down Chapman Drive, a wide, dirt road (shared by mountain bikers) and gaze down at a canyon thick with ponderosa pine forest and beyond to the snow-capped Indian Peaks to the west. A mile and a half in, turn right onto Tenderfoot Trail, which winds through a flowering meadow. Follow the signs for the overlook spur trail for postcard-perfect views of some of Colorado’s tallest peaks.


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    4. Rattlesnake Gulch

    Rattlesnake Gulch Eldorado Canyon dusted with snow
    Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Max and Dee Bernt

    Difficulty:  Moderate
    Distance: 3.6 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, leashed
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Park Fees to Enter) or Ride the Shuttle
    The dramatic, striated walls of Eldorado Canyon State Park are just 20 minutes south of Boulder, and its full of hiking, biking, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Rattlesnake Gulch is a moderate hiking option that will take you past spectacular views of the canyon and Colorado’s eastern plains in the distance. You’ll also pass the remnants of historic Crags Hotel, which was built in 1908 but burned down in 1913. Continue on to the Continental Divide Overlook, and have your camera ready!


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    Ride the Eldo Shuttle on Summer Weekends

    Parking can fill up on summer weekends in Eldorado Canyon State Park, and when it does, guests arriving by car have to be turned away at the gate. Instead, ride the free shuttle from South Boulder to Eldo on summer weekends. Learn more about the Eldo Shuttle here

    5. Mount Sanitas

    Difficulty: Difficult
    Distance: 3 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Free)
    You’ll feel like shouting, “I’m king of the world” from the summit of this lung-busting, thigh-burner of a hike — one of Boulder’s most popular. In fact, it’s so popular that it is best reserved for a weekday or wintertime, when crowds are (slightly) fewer. There are two ways to approach the loop, but we recommend tackling the rocky, “staircase” side (Mountain Sanitas Trail) first and coming back down the way you came or via the Sanitas Valley Trail.


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    6. Green Mountain West Trail

    Difficulty: Moderate
    Distance: 2.8 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Free)

    Green Mountain is one three major peaks that give Boulder its recognizable mountain backdrop. There are numerous routes that will take you to the summit, which sits at an elevation of 8,144 feet. This one is considered something of a backdoor route. It's far easier than others because it sits at a relatively high elevation to start with. A pretty little meandering path turns into a series of steep switchbacks in the homestretch. Scramble over a few boulders to reach the true summit, indicated with a bronze marker and the names of nearby mountains, and then take some time to rest and absorb the captivating 360-degree views. Note: Parking can be tricky here, so it's best to go early or on a weekday.


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    7. Red Rocks Trail

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    Distance: 0.7 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Free)

    Red Rocks Boulder

    About a five-minute walk from downtown Boulder is the trailhead at The Peoples' Crossing (formerly "Settlers Park"). Here, the relatively gentle, short Red Rocks Trail winds up into otherworldly, ochre-colored sandstone outcroppings that mimic those of its much more famous cousin: the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. While there’s no live music in Boulder’s Red Rocks (unless you bring your own instrument!), the views are superb and it’s an excellent spot to drape yourself over a sun-warmed boulder or enjoy a picnic. These are perfect scrambling rocks for kids.

    8. Flatirons Loop (Second and Third Flatirons)

    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
    Distance: 2.5 miles
    Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
    Trail Map
    Where to Park (Fee) or ride the shuttle

    This classic Boulder trail gets you up close to imposing views of the first and second Flatirons. You'll start through the Chautauqua Meadow, itself replete with breathtaking Flatirons views that are framed by fields of wildflowers in summer. The trail eventually crosses through a scree field before coming to the notch between the second and third Flatiron. Just after this point, be sure to stop to take lots of pics of Flatirons number three on the horizon. 


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    Ride the Free Chautauqua Shuttle on Summer Weekends

    Headed to the Chautauqua area on a summer weekend to hike among the Flatirons? Ride the free weekend shuttle to get there stress-free and avoid parking fees. Here's all the information on the Park-to-Park hiker shuttle, which runs on weekends Memorial Day to Labor Day.