View of the Flatirons in Chautauqua Park

19 Fun Hikes Near Boulder, Colorado (Easy to Expert)

As soon as you set eyes on Boulder, it’s obvious it’s a great place for hiking! You can explore the Flatirons (those flat red rocks that jut into the sky in the background), along with plenty of lakes, streams, and other mountain trails. 

Boulder is also only an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park, so while I’m mostly focusing on hiking trails in town, I’ll throw in a few suggestions there for you, too. As a Colorado local who’s hiked many of these trails, I’m confident that several of these best hikes near Boulder, Colorado will fit your interests and abilities!

Also, be sure to check out my list of 29 fun things to do in Boulder, Colorado for even more activities in the area!

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19 Best Hikes Near Boulder

Flatirons Vista Trail

One of many easy hikes in Boulder, perfect for an after-work walk

View of the Flatirons Vista Trail and a wide grass field

🥾 Easy | 2.3 miles | Google Maps | Flatirons Vista Trail Website | 7 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

Much of the best hiking in Boulder, Colorado offers views of the Flatirons. You’ll see those rock formations on much of this flat trail, which is a great spot for an after-work walk. Be sure to watch for wildlife and wildflowers! 

Mesa Trail: Eldorado Springs to Chautauqua 

Hike along the base of the Flatirons

View from the Mesa Trail in Boulder

🥾 Moderate | 6.2 miles | Google Maps | Chautauqua Website | 5 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

The Mesa Trail runs along the Flatirons and connects Chautauqua Park with Eldorado Canyon Road. Watch for wildlife and wildflowers along the way, and there are lots of spurs and turnoffs for various hiking options. 

Eldorado Canyon Trail

Waterfall and canyon views are abundant on this Eldorado Canyon State Park route

View of the Eldorado Canyon Trail and a rocky river

🥾 Moderate/Difficult | 6.6 miles | Google Maps | Eldorado Canyon Website | 24 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $10 Daily Vehicle fee

Easily one of the best hikes in Boulder, this trail at Eldorado Canyon State Park has beautiful views of the canyon and the mountains (plus a waterfall!) and ends at south Boulder Creek where you can cool off. 

🥾 Read Next: The 15 Top Hikes in Colorado

Isabelle Glacier Trail

See gorgeous views of the Rockies at Brainard Lake Recreation Area

View of the reflection of Isabelle Glacier Trail in Brainard Lake

🥾 Difficult | 8.4 miles | Google Maps | Isabelle Glacier Trail Website | 52 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $12 Daily Use Vehicle fee

This is a gorgeous hike through the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Start at the Long Lake trailhead, and you’ll pass several pools and get gorgeous views of the Rockies. 

👉 Pro Tip: Brainard Lake has a timed entry system during the summer. Be sure to plan ahead!

Wonderland Lake Loop Trail

If you’re looking for scenic but easy hikes near Boulder, add this spot to your list

View of the sunset in Wonderland Lake

🥾 Easy | 1.5 miles | Google Maps | Wonderland Lake Website | 7 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

Wonderland Lake in North Boulder is a flat loop that heads around the lake. You’ll get views of the Flatirons, and you may see paragliders taking off from Wonderland Hill.

Mount Sanitas

An iconic Boulder trail offering both mountain and city views

Overlooking view from Mount Sanitas

🥾 Hard | 1.3 miles | Google Maps | Mt. Sanitas Website | 5 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

It’s just a short drive from downtown Boulder to this hiking trail! The trail is short but steep, meaning you might be sucking air by the time you get up the stairs to the summit. You’ll get everything from open meadows to rock outcroppings, and there are places to go bouldering. 

👉 My Favorite Gear: Trekking poles can be a huge help on steep hikes! Browse options from REI. 

Green Mountain West

A gradual climb to the top of Boulder’s Green Mountain

View of the Flatirons in Green Mountain West

🥾 Moderate | 3.7 miles | Google Maps | Green Mountain West Website | 22 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

The Green Mountain West trail starts out easy, but when you get to the summit at the end, you’ll be working hard! Fortunately, you’re rewarded with beautiful views of the city from atop Green Mountain at the end. 

Red Rocks Trail

One of the best Boulder hikes to see red rock formations up close

View of rock formations in Red Rocks Trail at sunset

🥾 Easy to Moderate | 0.7 miles | Google Maps | Red Rocks Website | 4 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

Start the Red Rocks Trail at the Centennial Trailhead, where you’ll head up a ridge and then near the red rocks themselves. You’ll end at The Peoples’ Crossing (formerly known as Settler’s Park). 

👉 My Favorite Gear: Bug spray is hugely helpful in spring and summer! I like this set by Ranger Ready, which includes both a body and a clothing spray. 

First and Second Flatirons

Hike up the famed backdrop of Boulder, Colorado

View of the Flatirons in Chautauqua Park

🥾 Moderate | 2.6 miles | Google Maps | First & Second Flatirons Website | 8 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

This trail begins at Chautauqua Park and heads between the First and Second Flatirons. You’ll get beautiful meadow views at first, then of the city and Flatirons, and of the Rocky Mountains beyond. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Boulder, Colorado.

Bear Peak

Challenge yourself on this Boulder trek and enjoy panoramic views at the summit

View of Bear Peak from above

🥾 Difficult | 8.1 miles | Google Maps | Bear Peak Website | 32 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $5

A 2,000-foot elevation gain makes this a lung-buster, but a great workout especially on the last mile before you summit. You can combine this with South Boulder Peak for a longer hike if you’re up for the challenge!

👉 Want More Front Range Hikes? Be sure to check out my list of the best hiking trails around Denver for more ideas.

Boulder Falls

A family-friendly waterfall trail in nearby Nederland

View of a rocky small waterfall in Boulder

🥾 Easy | 0.3 miles | Google Maps | Boulder Falls Website | 50 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

This is a popular, easy trail that’s great for kids and ends at the falls. Bring a picnic and enjoy the view!

👉 My Favorite Gear: I love picnic backpacks because they keep your hands free to handle kids!

Royal Arch

Stand beneath a massive arch in Chautauqua Park

View of rock formation which is called Royal Arch

🥾 Difficult | 4 miles | Google Maps | Royal Arch Website | 14 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

From the Chautauqua Trail, follow signs to the Royal Arch Trail for a different kind of red rock formation. The hike is steep and rocky but (of course!) beautiful. 

Lost Lake Trail

A beautiful, popular trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness offering some of the best hiking near Boulder

View of a reflection of a mountain in Lost lake

🥾 Moderate | 4.4 miles | Google Maps | Lost Lake Wplaebsite | 41 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

A beautiful trail to an alpine lake that’s popular not only with day hikers but backpackers as well. After you get to the lake, you can continue on to Devil’s Thumb or King Lake Trail…or head back.

👉 Pro Tip: During the popular summer months, you’ll need to park at Nederland High School and take the free shuttle to the trailhead. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Expansive canyon views and Wild West ruins make this one of the more unique Boulder hiking trails

View of Rattlesnake Gulch from Eldorado State Park

🥾 Moderate | 3.6 miles | Google Maps | Rattlesnake Gulch Trail Website | 23 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $10 Daily Vehicle Fee

This Eldorado Canyon hiking trail has amazing canyon views, and you’ll pass the remains of the historic Crags Hotel, built in 1908 but destroyed 5 years later in a fire.

Arapaho Pass Trail

Trek the Fourth of July Mine in Nederland

View of the Arapaho Pass Trail near Eldorado

🥾 Moderate | 4.1 miles | Google Maps | Arapaho Pass Trail Website | 58 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

Lots of amazing hiking trails near Boulder start at the Fourth of July Trailhead in Nederland. This one takes you to the Fourth of July Mine and there are lots of options to continue on from there.

Bald Mountain Scenic Area Pine to Peak Loop

A great picnic spot and one of the best easy Boulder hikes

View of the Bald Mountain Scenic Area

🥾 Easy | 1 miles | Google Maps | Bald Mountain Scenic Area Website | 12 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: free

This is an easy loop trail at the top of Bald Mountain that gives you a panoramic view of the Continental Divide and the Rocky Mountains, all the way to the Great Plains. It’s also a beautiful picnic spot. 

Sprague Lake

See breathtaking views at Rocky Mountain National Park

The reflection of Rocky Mountain on Sprague Lake

🥾 Easy | 0.8 mile | Google Maps | Website | One hour and 41 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $25

This is a very flat, easy 0.8 mile walk around a lake that beautifully reflects the mountains behind it. You may see wildlife — we once saw a moose and her babies standing in the water to drink.

Sprauge Lake makes a great day trip outing from Boulder if you’re looking to get away into nature.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake

Hike past several alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

View of the Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

🥾 Moderate | 7.8 miles | Google Maps | Website | One hour drive from Boulder | Cost: $25

This hike includes several lakes beside Bear and Fern Lake. It also gives you beautiful views of Longs, Pagoda, and Chiefs Head Peak along the way. You can also make this a one-way hike by getting a lift on the park shuttle back to your car from Fern Lake.

The Bear Lake trailhead is at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36.

👉 Pro Tip: The park is on a timed entry system during warmer months so be sure to plan ahead!

Longs Peak

An extreme hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that climbs atop a 14,000-foot peak 

View of the Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

🥾 Expert | 14.8 miles | Google Maps | Website | One hour and 27 minute drive from Boulder | Cost: $25

The Keyhole Route at Longs Peak is very popular, thanks to the mountain’s short distance from Boulder. But be warned — it’s an extremely difficult hike and definitely not for beginners!

You’ll want some rock climbing experience, and you’ll need a helmet. Many people start this hike between 2-3 a.m. to avoid any chance of lightning storms. 

🥾 Read Next: 15 Best Colorado Hiking Trails

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There are tons of hiking trails near Boulder, but these are some of the best! For more Colorado adventures, be sure to check out my list of the top 33 things to do in the state of Colorado. Happy trails!

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