Open Spaces And Outdoor Trails

Today, the open space program is the pride of the county, boasting over 43,000 acres of preserved agricultural and recreational land that hosts over 5 million visitors each year. Hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and even off-road vehicles enjoy the unique vistas and scenery of the city, all sustained by the hard-working rangers and volunteers of the Boulder County Open Space and Parks group.


Located north of Eldorado Canyon State Park and extending through the Shanahan Ridge and Devil’s Thumb neighborhoods to Baseline Road, the Mesa Trail offers well-maintained trails that wind through some of the most remote parts of the open space. A fifteen-minute hike will take you into the canyons and leave you with a view of pine trees and prairie - an escape from the city unheard of in most parts of the country. Boulderites looking for a strenuous day hike often take the Fern Canyon trail to Bear Peak and gaze out over the city to the east and over the stunning mountain views to the west.


Located in the middle of the city, tourists and locals drive more than sixteen hundred feet up the scenic mountain road to reach the summit of one of the city’s most spectacular natural features. Concerts, weddings, and other gatherings occur year-round at the Sunrise Amphitheater located on top of the summit. Boulder’s many rock climbers flock to Flagstaff to cut their teeth on the mountain’s famous boulders, and hikers enjoy a diverse offering of trails ranging from a grueling summit trek to an effortless afternoon stroll. Further along Flagstaff Road lies Walker Ranch, a gorgeous and historic homestead-turned-nature-preserve offering trails for mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders as well as streams and creeks for trout fishermen. The offerings of Flagstaff Mountain are diverse, and there is something for everyone on this unique landform.


One of Boulder's popular trails is the steep hike from the Centennial Trailhead to the top of Mount Sanitas. During the early twentieth century, the University of Colorado operated a quarry on the mountain and constructed several buildings on campus that sill stand today. The quarry did not strip Sanitas of all its natural beauty though, and hikers are treated to beautiful golden rock faces that line the trail on the way to the top. For those who are not up to the twelve hundred foot climb to the summit, the Dakota Ridge trail to the north of the Centennial Trailhead offers an easier walk if not quite as spectacular a view. To the south of the valley is Settler's Park, a small, streamside charm that attracts families and picnickers during the warm summer months.


At the western end of Arapahoe Road lies Eben G. Fine Park, a picturesque tree-filled area where hundreds of residents gather every weekend during the summer to barbecue with their families and enjoy the enviable Boulder weather. When the heat becomes unbearable, kids and adults purchase inner tubes from local gas stations and float down the kayaking course located on the creek next to the park. The Boulder Creek Path, an eight-mile multi-use trail starting up Boulder Canyon and ending in the plains of East Boulder, winds through Eben G. Fine while making its way through town. If you drive eleven miles west on Canyon Road (Highway 119), you reach Boulder Falls, a sixty-six foot waterfall tumbling into the beginnings of Boulder Creek. Further up the highway are the mountain towns of Magnolia, Sugarloaf, and Nederland, home to the small Eldora ski resort located just twenty-one miles outside of town.