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Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike

The Herman Gulch Trail is one of the best summer wildflower hikes near Denver. It's also a challenging winter snowshoe and is often used for cross-country skiing. The Herman Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile (one-way), out-and-back adventure into snowcapped mountain country and provides access to many more trails in Arapaho National Forest. Explore the full Herman Gulch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Herman Gulch Hike, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Herman Gulch

The Herman Gulch Trailhead is located about 20 miles west of Idaho Springs via I-70. From Denver, it's about a 60-minute drive but can take around 1.5 hours in winter ski traffic. The trailhead is located right off Exit 218 by taking a right onto Watrous Way. There are restrooms available at the trailhead. As with all trailheads, but especially those right off the interstate, be sure that your valuables are out of site and locked up. The trail is located in the middle of the parking area, just to the left of the restroom.

herman gulch hike trail

The Hike: Herman Gulch to Herman Lake

From the parking lot, the initial trail segment is steep. But be encouraged, while it's not an easy hike, the trail becomes more gradual as it gains elevation into the widening valley of Herman Gulch. At the trail intersection early in the hike, the trail to Herman Gulch will bear to the left, and a trail that leads to Waterous Gulch will lead to the right. Staying on the Herman Gulch Trail, it will weave in and out of the trees into small meadows with Herman Creek and many meltwater rivulets cascading across the landscape.

Winter may not release its grip on Herman Gulch until mid-summer. For example, all the photos in this trail profile were taken during the first week of June, so prepare for the snow to get increasingly deeper as you progress further on the trail. For this reason, we recommend trekking poles and traction devices for your boots. Also, be aware that at this elevation, thunderstorms often come up quickly on Summer afternoons, bringing dangerous lightning, especially in the open areas of the higher elevations. For this reason, and in order to avoid crowds, it's wise to begin your hike early in the day.

herman gulch hike near idaho springs winter trail

The trail eventually emerges from the trees into a broad alpine landscape where a series of rock cairns leads the way to Herman Lake. This final segment is steep and demanding. The lake is located in a wide bowl beneath the lofty reaches of Pettingell Peak. The lake may be snow-covered through much of June, depending on late-season snowfall. In the early and mid-summer, a series of small meltwater cascades make their way down along the western mountainside into the lake. Be sure to stay the trail as you will be in a fragile alpine ecosystem.

Hiking Herman Gulch in the Winter

Herman Gulch is also a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination. December to March offer the best snowpack for these activities. It's a very different experience when snow has piled up in Herman Gulch and it's even more critical that those venturing into this area have packed their 10 essentials and are dressed appropriately. There are two avalanche chutes on the right-hand side of the trail about 1 mile into the hike that hikers should keep in mind (see ORIC winter map). During this season, do not go above treeline into the higher reaches as these are very much prone to avalanches. It's also important to bear in mind that snowstorms can come up very quickly, even in Spring and Fall, reducing and even eliminating visibility. So be aware and be prepared. Snowshoeing travel speeds are about 1 mile per hour, depending on the person, which is half of hiking speeds. Adjust your travel times accordingly and for early darkness of winter.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Herman Gulch Hike

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snowcapped peaks in distance with green foothills in foreground

Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

The Beaver Loop is a moderate 2.3-mile loop hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the West. Add a short segment to Slough Pond to make this a 3-mile hike. Explore the trail profile for a trail map, driving directions, and tips for this hike near Golden, CO

Trail Snapshot: Beaver Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Beaver Loop Hike

From Denver, take US-6 West to Golden. Just outside Golden, US-6 will turn left (West) into Clear Creek Canyon; it's at this intersection that you'll continue North on 93. After 1.3 miles on 93, turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road. Now, prepare for the rest of your drive being pretty windy. After 12.7 miles on Golden Gate Canyon Road, it will intersect with Crawford Gulch Road on a wide curve. Turn right onto Crawford Gulch road and the visitor center for Golden Gate Canyon State Park will be on your immediate right. This is the best parking area for the Beaver Loop. However, the parking here fills up fast, especially on the weekends. Another option is to park at the Ralston Roost Trailhead, located about 0.2 mile further down the road (see the State Park Map Link above). A third option is to begin your hike at Slough Pond. This will add about 3/4 of a mile to your hike, making it closer to a 3-mile trip.

beaver loop golden gate canyon trail start
The Beaver Loop Trailhead Across Golden Gate Canyon Road from the Visitor Center

The Hike: The Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

The Visitor Center at Golden Gate is worth exploring. Kids will be fascinated by the trout in the man-made creek and small pond surrounding the building. The Beaver Trail can be picked up just South of the Visitor Center by taking one of the paths around the perimeter of the building. The trail begins under the powerlines on the opposite side of Golden Gate Canyon road. Exercise caution crossing the road as vehicles may be descending the hill and not be looking out for pedestrians. Be alert for cyclists, as they frequent the road and come down the hill at high speeds.

beaver loop golden gate canyon another trail sign
First Trail Fork on the Beaver Loop

At the first trail fork, hikers have the option of taking the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. I hiked this clockwise, taking the trail towards the shelter. The clockwise route offers a more gentle ascent, but steep descent on the back side of the loop. Taking it counter-clockwise will mean a steeper ascent and a more gentle descent on the way back, which is probably easier on the knees, but a more demanding climb.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

You'll notice that the State Park trail map rates this trail as "most difficult." It's important to note that these ratings are relative to the other trails in the park. I 've classified the Beaver Loop as medium/moderate because, while it does have over 1000' of elevation gain, it is only a 2.3-mile hike. Add about 3/4 of a mile if you make the out-and-back trip out to Slough Pond. See our Hikes by Difficulty page for more hikes and the basic criteria we use to classify hikes. It should be noted that difficulty will differ by persons, so be sure to review the details of a hike before attempting it.

beaver loop golden gate canyon yet another trail sign
Sign Indicating Spur Trail to Shelter

At approximately 1 mile into the loop, hikers will encounter a sign (pictured above) pointing to a 0.5-mile spur trail leading to a backcountry shelter. A permit is required to camp here and can be purchased online at the Golden Gate Canyon fees page. Continuing on the loop, the trail will soon lead to an overlook of views to the West. During most of the year, snow-capped peaks appear above a verdant green valley in these western foothills.

mountains in the west at golden gate canyon state park

After the overlook, the trail begins a steep descent. I had brought my trekking poles (I always bring them), and was glad that I did. I would imagine that this trail gets slicked over with ice and hardened snow during the winter, making it really difficult to navigate. The trail then leads down to an intersection with the Slough Pond trail.

beaver loop golden gate canyon downhill segment
Downhill Trail Segment on the Beaver Loop

At this intersection at the bottom of the hill, you have the option of making the trip over to Slough Pond. The hike over to Slough Pond is pleasant and mostly flat. At the pond, a quaint creek flows out of the pond and under a footbridge. Slough Pond is a popular fishing spot and a great place for kids to learn to bait a hook. As mentioned above, adding this out-and-back segment to the hike, makes this closer to a 3 mile hike.

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windy peak golden gate canyon state park header

Windy Peak Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

Windy Peak is a summit hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. A moderate to difficult 6.4-mile loop hike that follows meltwater creeks, crosses green meadows replete with wildflowers, and offers great views at the summit of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the West. Explore the full Windy Peak Hike profile for trail map, driving directions, and many of the details you need to enjoy this adventure in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Trail Snapshot: Windy Peak in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Bridge across Ralston Creek at Bridge Creek Trailhead in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Windy Peak Hike

From Denver, take US-6 West to Golden. Just outside Golden, US-6 will turn left (West) into Clear Creek Canyon; it's at this intersection that you'll continue North (not turning left) on 93. After 1.3 miles on 93, turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road. Now, prepare for the rest of your drive being pretty windy. About 4 miles down Golden Gate Canyon Road, you have the option of taking Crawford Gulch road to the Right or to stay on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Both routes will get you there.

I believe that Google Maps from Denver is going to default to Crawford Gulch Road. Do take your time and be alert for cyclists and motorcycles, especially on the weekend, as both Golden Gate Canyon Road and Crawford Gulch Roads are popular roads for riding. Eventually, Crawford Gulch Road will turn into Drew Hill Road, which runs through the heart of Golden Gate Canyon State Park. If you decide to take the Golden Gate Canyon Road option, it will intersect with Crawford Gluch/Drew Hill at the visitor center (on your right, just after the intersection on Crawford Gulch). If you take this route, the Bridge Creek Trailhead will be 2.3 miles down the road and on your left (north). One last thing to note is that Crawford Gulch Road has yet one more name, Ralston Creek Road. So, if you see that on any signage, just know you are on the right track.

The Bridge Creek Trailhead is a bit unusual because it's composed of several parking areas along the on the north side of the road. However, all parking areas have trails that will lead hikers to the footbridge that crosses the trail and serves as the official start of the Burro trail and this hike. A sign (pictured above) reads "Burro Trailhead."

The Hike: The Windy Peak Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

trail junction on burro trail in golden gate canyon

This is a Lollipop-loop trail with a spur trail at the end that leads up to the summit. There are several trail junctions, which can make this the route a bit confusing. I've provided photos below of the trail junctions, but it's important to remember that weather can change the landscape and signage. The description here hikes the loop portion of the trail in a clockwise direction. We've classified this as moderate/medium in difficulty. However, its right on the edge because of the over 1000' elevation gain and more than 5 miles of trail. For some, this will be difficult. It's also on our list of dog-friendly hikes, but it's important to know that the peak is all rocky terrain that may be a bit tough on your dog's paws. As always, if you are taking your best friend, be sure to keep them on a leash out of respect for the wildlife, environment, and other hikers.

creek along the burro trail

After crossing Ralston Creek, the trail makes its way up a gentle slope into the trees. At the first trail junction, stay on the Burro Trail (left). The second trail junction leads either straight on the Mountain Lion Trail to Forgotten Valley or right toward Windy Peak on the Burro Trail. The trail will make its way along a creek. Look for Calypso flowers, also called Pink Lady Slippers in this area. They grow along the creeks in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

trail junction on burro trail with orange arrow

The loop begins at the third junction (pictured above), the way up to Windy Peak is clearly marked as the left-hand trail. From this point, it's 2.2 miles to the peak. Here the trail begins a steeper climb through an area with prominent chalk colored cliffs.

chalk colored cliffs along the burro trail

As you gain altitude, you'll gain views out to the Continental Divide rising above the green foothills of Golden Gate. The trail will then enter the shade of lodgepole forest.

snow capped mountains behind green foothills colorado

At the top of the loop, hikers will encounter the junction for the .7 mile spur trail that leads to the summit of Windy Peak (pictured below). There will be one more sign pointing the way at 0.4-mile below the summit.

spur trail sign for Windy peak along Burro Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

The summit of Windy Peak is one of my favorite places to read and journal. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch with you, because you'll want to spend some time here resting and refueling for the hike back to the trailhead. The spur trail will lead back to the main Burro loop trail. At this point, you can return the way you hiked in to the spur trail (a slightly shorter way back), or continue on the rest of the loop toward Nott Creek. The landscape on this back end of the loop is riddled with wildflowers, so it's well worth doing the full loop hike.

windy peak golden gate canyon state park another summit view

The trail will weave its way down into a valley with a dirt service road. Here, hikers will want to follow the Burro trail towards the Bridge Creek Trailhead as it makes its way on and off the service roads.

Trail junction with aspen trees in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

The trail will work its way through a green meadow, then along Nott creek, following it West until retracing the trails that lead back to Bridge Creek Trailhead.

green meadows with trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

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golden meadow with mountains in distance at Heil Valley Ranch Near Boulder Colorado

Heil Valley Ranch Ponderosa Loop Hike

Heil Valley Ranch near Boulder offers this rewarding lollipop-loop hike which features views of distant snowcapped mountains and geological features unique to this section of Colorado. Nestled in the foothills between Boulder and Lyons this singletrack trail is a great destination for both hikers and mountain bikers. However, soil erosion has required occasional trail closures, so be sure to check out the Boulder County Open Space Twitter feed for trail conditions. Explore the full Heil Valley Ranch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Boulder County, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Heil Valley Ranch Ponderosa Loop

Parking & Trailhead Information for Heil Valley Ranch Hike

From Boulder, follow US 36 West toward Lyons, turn left onto Left Hand Canyon Drive. After 0.7 mile, turn right onto Geer Canyon Drive. After approx. 1.2 miles, you'll come around a curve and see a sign for Heil Valley Ranch. The parking area is on the right/North side of the roach.

The Hike: Ponderosa Loop at Heil Valley Ranch Trail

There are two trails located at the north end of the parking area, the Wapiti and the Lichen. For this longer loop hike, we'll be taking the Wapiti up to the Ponderosa loop. This trail is found just to the left/west of the Lichen Loop trail. These should be well-marked by signs and the Lichen loop trail will immediately cross a footbridge. The Lichen loop is a great option for families with small children being just 1.3-mile loop with about 230' of elevation gain over the course of the hike.

Trees on Heil Valley Ranch Hike near Boulder, CO

Taking the Wapiti trail, hikers will head North through a broad valley punctuated with Ponderosa Pine. After passing an intersection with the Lichen Loop, the Wapiti will soon enter the shade of more ponderosa pines as it makes its way through more rocky and steep terrain. At 2.5 miles in, the Wapiti will meet up with the Ponderosa Loop Trail.

The Ponderosa loop segment offers a great set of views, beginning with views of snowcapped peaks in the west. We recommend taking the Ponderosa loop counter-clockwise, which will take you up to a high point then back down into a beautiful meadow with views all the way out to Left-Hand Reservoir. A second overlook is gained after this section, providing great views out to Indian Peaks Wilderness and Longs Peak in the North. The trail will meet back up with the Wapiti trail for a descent back to the trailhead.

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Heil Valley Ranch Trail

  • TIP: Keep alert for mountain bikers as much of the trail is singletrack and a popular mountain biking area..
  • Trail Map for Heil Valley Ranch Trail near Boulder: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Jonathan Reyes for sharing such great photographs of this hike at Heil Valley Ranch.
  • After the Hike: The Parkway Cafe

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old sawmill ruins at meyer homestead in boulder colorado

Meyers Homestead Hike in Walker Ranch

The Meyers Homestead Hike located in Walker Ranch is an almost perfect family hike near Boulder, Colorado. This 5.2-mile out-and-back hike travels through Meyers Gulch, past the remnants of a historic homestead, to an overlook offering panoramic views of Boulder Canyon and the snowcapped mountains of Indian Peaks. It's a wide trail through meadows, stands of aspen, and punctuated by ponderosa pine and wildflowers. Explore the full Meyers Homestead hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this trail near Boulder.

Trail Snapshot: Meyer Homestead Hike Near Boulder

Parking & Trailhead Information for Meyers Homestead Trail

The drive to Meyers Homestead Trailhead starts on the Baseline Road in Boulder. Traveling West past Chautauqua Park, the road will turn into Flagstaff Road at the base of Flagstaff Mountain and begin a windy and steep ascent. The overall trip on Flagstaff Road to the trailhead is about 6.2 miles. The Myers Homestead Trailhead is located on the right (West) side of the road. Restrooms, picnic area, and interpretive signs are available at the trailhead.

The Hike: Meyers Homestead Trail

The hike starts from the Meyers Homestead Trailhead by taking the trail on the right marked with a sign that reads "Meyers Homestead Trail - 2.6 Miles One-Way." The initial trail segment descends into a broad meadow. Around just 1/4 mile into the trail, you'll spot the remnants of a sawmill, part of the original Meyer Homestead. There is a spur trail that leads to a mill. Once past the sawmill, the trail begins a very gradual ascent and follows a small seasonal creek into the Meyer Gulch.

meyers homestead trail walker ranch winter

Starting at around 1/2 mile in, the trail will begin to weave in and out of groves of aspens and ponderosa pine, providing intermittent shade on a hot summer day. The trail will eventually open to another large meadow before entering the final, wooded and steeper 1/2 mile. This segment of switchbacks leads to a small unnamed peak with a bench and overlook. Here, you can take in views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Indian Peaks, Longs Peak, and Boulder Canyon.

A great related hike is the Eldorado Falls hike that is also part of the Walker Ranch Trail system.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Meyers Homestead Trail

  • TIP: Pause to read thee interpretative signs along the trail to indicate places that have historical and ecological significance.
  • Trail Map for Meyers Homestead Trail: Trail Map for Meyers Homestead Trail
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Ian W. Stearns for sharing such amazing photographs of this hike to Meyers Homestead.
  • After the Hike: The Parkway Cafe

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realization point view to front range snow capped mountains on hike near boulder colorado

Gregory Canyon Hike to Realization Point

The trail up Gregory Canyon is a moderately challenging hike to Realization Point Trailhead where hikers can pick up two different loop trails. Both loops offer expansive views of the Rocky Mountains in the West and wildflowers along the trail. Explore the full Gregory Canyon-Realization Point hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Boulder, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Gregory Canyon to Realization Point

Parking & Trailhead Information for Gregory Canyon

Hikers have several parking options for the Gregory Canyon Trail: 1) the Gregory Canyon Trailhead, 2) Parking at Chautauqua Park, or 3) along permitted stretches of Baseline Road. The Gregory Canyon Trailhead can be reached by following Baseline Road in Boulder west past Chautauqua park. Gregory Canyon Road is located on the left/South about 1/2 mile West of the park. Parking is allowed along most of the south side of Gregory Canyon Road and there is room for 7-8 vehicles at the trailhead. Both the roadside parking and the small parking area at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead require an access fee. Because of the fee and because this parking area fills quickly most mornings, many hikers opt to park along Baseline or at Chautauqua Park. Another option is to park at the Realization Point Trailhead (another fee parking area) and to hike down through the Canyon.

The Hike: Gregory Canyon Trail to Realization Point

In addition to its proximity to Boulder, this hike sports a number of options and a variety of landscapes. The stretch between Gregory Canyon Trailhead and Realization Point Trailhead is the main artery of all the options in this profile. Because most hikers will begin their adventure at Chautauqua Park, there are a couple 1/2 mile (one-way) approaches: the Baseline Trail or the Meadow Trail. On the upper end of the hike, at Realization Point Trailhead, there are two different loop options that offer beautiful views to the West of seasonal snowcapped peaks. These are the Rangeview/Ute Loop and the Tenderfoot Loop. You can review each of the hike options below to decide which trail combination is best for you.


View of the Flatirons from the Baseline Trail between Chautauqua Park and Gregory Canyon Trailhead

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead - 2.4 Miles Round Trip

This segment constitutes the main artery for all the hike options below. The Gregory Canyon Trail begins in the shade along Gregory Canyon Creek and climbs gradually to 0.5 mile where it crosses another small creek. Here the trail becomes more steep, making its way up a ridge via a set of switchbacks. Then the trail descends to a junction. At the junction, the Northern (right) segment leads a short distance up to Flagstaff Road and the Realization Point Trailhead (the destination for this hike as described here), or South (left) to the Long Canyon and Ranger Trails. After hiking the short segment to Flagstaff road, Realization Point Trailhead will be located across the street to the North. Be sure to watch for both cars and cyclists before crossing. If starting at Chautauqua Park and taking the Baseline or Meadow Trails to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 3.4 miles Round Trip.

looking out to boulder and the plains from gregory canyon

A View down into Boulder from the Upper Reaches of the Canyon

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead + Rangeview/Ute Loop - 3.2 Miles Round Trip

After traveling the 1.1 miles up through the canyon to Realization Point, hikers will find two loop options. The first is the shorter Rangeview/Ute Loop. This loop makes a 0.8-mile clockwise circuit around Flagstaff Mountain then joins back up to the trailhead. The loop offers views to the mountains in the West and great viewpoints to take in the changing aspens in the Fall. If starting at Chautauqua Park, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 4.2 miles Round Trip.

realization point sign and parking area along flagstaff road
Realization Point Trailhead Across Flagstaff Road

Gregory Canyon Trailhead to Realization Point Trailhead + Tenderfoot Loop - 4.7 Miles Round Trip

From Realization Point Trailhead, the Tenderfoot Trail bears to the left (Northwest) and makes for a more demanding loop when compared to the Rangeview/Ute Trail because of both the added distance and the additional elevation loss and gain. At its most northern point, hikers will find a short spur trail leading to a small peak that affords expansive views to the West. If starting at Chautauqua Park, add approximately 1 mile to this hike, making it 5.7 miles Round Trip. By adding the spur trail, it becomes closer to 6 miles total.

trail junction at realization point

Trail Junction for the Two Loop Hikes at Realization Point Trailhead

Both loop hikes afford multiple opportunities for taking in views out to the Rocky Mountains. The photo below was taken along the beginning segment of the Rangeview Trail.

view to snowcapped peaks realization point in boulder colorado

Views of the Front Range from the Rangeview Trail

Video of Gregory Canyon Hike

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hall ranch near boulder header

Hall Ranch Hike Near Lyons, Colorado

Hall Ranch, just outside of Lyons Colorado, is a hiking, mountain biking, trail running destination that features red sandstone buttes, vast green meadows, and panoramic views of white snowcapped meadows. Tucked into the foothills near the St. Vrain River, the trails at Hall Ranch are a great escape from life in the city. Explore the full Hall Ranch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Boulder County.

Trail Snapshot: Hall Ranch Hike Near Lyons

Directions & Trailhead Information for Hall Ranch Hike

Hall Ranch is situated west of Lyons, Colorado about 16 miles north of Boulder. It's easy to access via the CO 7. There are two trailheads for Hall Ranch. The primary Hall Ranch Trailhead is located off Saint Vrain Drive/CO 7 West, about a mile outside of Lyons. The parking area is located on the North side of the road. This is the best access for most of the hikes and has both restrooms as well as a picnic shelter that can accommodate up to 24 people. The second smaller trailhead is the Antelope Trailhead, located at the end of Antelope Drive just northwest of Lyons. This second trailhead provides access to the Antelope trail, a connector trail described below.

hall ranch near boulder butte
Sandstone Buttes at Hall Ranch

The Hikes: Hall Ranch Hike

There are several options for trails at Hall Ranch:

  • Nighthawk/Bitterbrush Loop - 9.2 Miles RT - +2480' - Moderat

  • Probably the most popular is the Nighthawk Trail/Bitterbrush Loop. The loop starts at the west side of the main trailhead and sports a variety of landscapes: expansive meadows, tall buttes, pinion pines, and 180-degree views at its higher elevations. Starting at the main trail, hikers will soon come to an intersection with the Nighthawk trail and Bitterbrush. For this trail profile, we'll take a clockwise approach, following the Nighthawk trail westward. The Nighthawk trail makes a steady climb to where it tops out at approximately 7700' where it offers great views out to Longs Peak and a panorama of Rocky Mountain National Park. Here, hikers will notice an intersection with the Button Rock trail. This 2-mile out-and-back trail is not part of the loop. Staying on the Nighthawk Trail, it will meet up with the Nelson Loop Trail. Hikers can choose to go right or left, both trail segments will link up with the Bitterbrush after approximately 1 mile. Now about 5.5 miles into the hike, hikers will follow the Bitterbrush Trail as it descends for 3.7 miles back down to the main trailhead.

  • Nelson Loop Trail - 2.2 Mile Loop - +299' - Moderate

  • The Nelson Loop can only be accessed by first hiking either the Nighthawk or the Bitterbrush to where they connect up with the Nelson Loop. If you would like to do a lollipop loop hike, we recommend taking the Bitterbrush up to the Nelson Loop, hiking the loop, then returning via the Bitterbrush. This makes for a 9.6-mile hike. The Nelson Loop features the remnants of the old Nelson Homestead just off of the southern segment of the loop.

  • Nighthawk Trail at Hall Ranch - 9 Miles RT - +1282' - Moderate/h3>

  • The Nighthawk trail can also be hiked as a 9-mile out-and-back trail. However, we recommend the full loop above because it's almost the same total distance and offers a greater variety of landscape. The Nighthawk Trail is hiker-only, so it makes for a great option if you prefer to avoid horse and mountain bike traffic. This trail is our favorite, offering vast meadows of green in the Spring and early Summer with views out to Mt Meeker and other snowcapped peaks.

  • Bitterbrush Trail - 7.4 RT - +898' - Moderate

  • The Bitterbrush Trail is a moderate 3.7 trail that begins at the main trailhead or that can be accessed midway by way of the Antelope Trailhead. Out-and-back, it makes for a 7.4-mile trip.

  • Antelope Trail - 1 Mile Trail Connector +458' - Moderate

  • From the Antelope Trailhead, the 1-mile Antelope Trail takes you west to meet up with the Bitterbrush Trail. Gaining approximately 500' in a mile, it can make for a great 2-mile out-and-back trail run and provides some unique views not available on the longer trails.

  • Button Rock Trail - 2 Mile Trail Connector +220' - Easy

  • The Button Rock Trail leads down to the Sleepy Lion Trail at Button Rock Preserve where hikers can pick up a whole series of trails around Ralph Price Reservoir.

hall ranch near boulder map

Interpretive Map at Hall Ranch Trailhead

Tips & Resources for Hiking Hall Ranch Hike Near Boulder

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mcgregor falls waterfall ocky mountain national park

MacGregor Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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mohawk lake with grey mountain faces in background on mohawk lakes hike near breckenridge colorado

Mohawk Lakes Hike Near Breckenridge

Mohawk Lakes are situated in the mountains south of Breckenridge, Colorado. Less than a 2-hour drive from Denver, this moderately demanding hike leads through pine and aspen forest, along a mountain stream, to a beautiful waterfall spilling over granite slabs. Breaking out above treeline at mile 3, hikers will arrive at Lower Mohawk Lake, and a bit further up the trail, can take in spectacular views of the neighboring mountain ranges at Upper Mohawk Lake. Explore the full Mohawk Lakes hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Breckenridge.

Trail Snapshot: Mohawk Lakes Trail near Breckenridge, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Mohawk Lakes Hike

From Breckenridge, follow CO 9 South to The Spruce Creek Road. This is found on the right/west approximately 2.5 miles from the south end of town (junction of Main and South Park Ave). The trailhead for this hike to Continental Falls is located approximately 1.1 mile up Spruce Creek Road.

cascade spilling out of Lower Mohawk lake
A Cascade Spilling out of Mohawk Lake

The Hike: Mohawk Lakes Trail

From the trailhead, hikers will follow the Spruce Creek trail, which is marked by blue diamond blazes painted on the trees along the trail. About 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail crosses Spruce Creek via a footbridge. Here the forest opens to provide views of Mt. Helen to the West. At approximately the 1.7 miles mark, the Spruce Creek trail intersects with the Wheeler Trail. At this junction, continue straight on Spruce Creek Trail.

At approximately 2 miles, the Spruce Creek trail joins up with a 4WD road for a short jaunt past a small dam, then reconnects with the Spruce Creek trail. At about 2.5 miles into the hike, the trail intersects with the Mayflower Lakes Trail. Proceeding left (southwest) will lead to Mohawk lakes and past a beautiful granite waterfall, Continental Falls. This segment of the trail is one of my favorites, as it leads past the ruins of a mining operation complete with cabins, mine shaft, and old mining equipment. Exercise caution around such areas as hikers have been been injured or lost their lives by entering mining shafts and adits. Take a moment to read the signage around these areas for details.

mohawk lakes breckenridge colorado old mine shaft along the trail
An Old Mine Shaft along the Trail

There are more cascades to taken in between Continental Falls and Lower Mohawk lake. At approximately the 3-mile mark, hikers will arrive at beautiful Lower Mohawk lake, surrounded by rugged mountainsides with the peak of Mt. Helen directly north of the center of the lake. The trail continues for about 0.3 miles and another 450' of elevation gain to Upper Mohawk Lake where you can take in the expansive views of Colorado's majestic Tenmile Range of the Rocky Mountains. Because this is an out-and-back trail, the way back to the trailhead is the reverse of the same trail hikers take to the lakes.

hiker with child at lower mohawk lake in Colorado mountains
At the shore of Lower Mohawk Lake

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Mohawk Lakes Trail

  • TIP: You will be hiking through alpine tundra, which is a fragile ecosystem. Be sure to stay on the trail and hike only on durable surfaces if you are hiking or fishing along the lakes.
  • TIP: There are mine ruins off trail nearby. Be careful as mines have been known to collapse and to produce poisonous gases.
  • Trail Map: Mohawk Lakes Trail near Breckenridge
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: The Crown

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above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


diamond lake in indian peaks wilderness on hike near denver

Diamond Lake Hike

The Diamond Lake Trail leads hikers to a high alpine lake nestled in the forest below Jasper Peak in Indian Peaks Wilderness. This 2.7 mile, moderately demanding trail leads to good fishing at Diamond Lake, past a waterfall and multiple cascades, and opens up to the incredible views that make Colorado's high-country famous. Explore the full Diamond Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Trail Snapshot: Diamond Lake Trail

Directions to Diamond Lake Trail & Trailhead

Drive for approximately for 1hr from Denver to Nederland, Colorado. From Nederland, drive south on CO 119 for about half a mile. Turn right onto CR 130 towards Eldora, then proceed westward through the town of Eldora on Eldorado Avenue which will turn into Hessie Road as it leaves town. At the intersection with CR 111 (4th of July Road) turn right; this will take you to the Fourth of July Trailhead. On the way to the trailhead, you'll pass Buckingham Campground. Though this looks like a trailhead and parking area, drive past it to the actual trailhead. It is important to note that 4th of July Road is a dirt road and only useable by passenger vehicles during the Summer months, and rain and snow can cause the road conditions to be unpredictable.

The Hike to Diamond Lake

The hike to Diamond Lake begins at the 4th of July Trailhead by taking the Arapaho Pass Trail #904. The Arapaho Pass trail ascends quickly into Indian Peaks Wilderness area. New views open up about every quarter mile featuring distant waterfalls, trailside cascades, creeks, wildflowers, and expansive mountain views. Hikers will encounter the first trail junction at 1.2 miles in. The correct trail, the Diamond Lake Trail (easy to remember) is to the left/west. The first 1/2 mile on the Diamond Lake Trail heads west along a drainage then descends to Middle Boulder Creek. At approximately 1.7 miles into the hike, the trail follows a bridge over Middle Boulder Creek. This a great place to stop and take in Diamond Lake Falls (pictured below).

diamond lake falls as it spills out of Middle Boulder Creek high in Indian Peaks Wilderness

After the waterfall, the trail crosses two more creeks then begins a steep ascent through a series of switchbacks. This final trail segment is approximately 1 mile, making the entire one-way hike to Diamond Lake approximately 2.7 miles. This segment from the waterfall to the lake is often covered with snow into early Summer, so orienteering and snow-travel skills are recommended for those who decide to negotiate the snow-covered trail.

forest near diamond lake with snow and fogSnow and Fog on the Forest near Diamond Lake

Campfires are prohibited at Diamond Lake, but camping is allowed by permit and in the designated sites. For more details on backcountry travel and permits in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, see the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance. The Diamond Lake Trail continues past Diamond Lake into the high country where it meets up with the Devils Thumb trail. Hikers in Indian Peaks should always prepare by packing the 10 Essentials, and have a plan in case they encounter rapidly changing weather conditions. In the summer, this means thunderstorms and lightning that rapidly form, and un-forecasted snowstorms from Fall to early Summer.

diamond lake header

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Diamond Lake Trail

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girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background