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Outdoor Excursions: May 2019


Trips to tackle, hike, bike, swim, dance, dive, explore and love

Situated at the base of the iconic Flatirons, Boulder is known for its outdoor activities and abundant sunshine. With more than 45,000 acres of open space, over 60 urban parks, and 300 miles plus of bike paths, the Boulder area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking, running, climbing, biking, fishing, and swimming, to just soaking in the scenery; Boulder has something for everyone to enjoy, so get ready to expand your outdoor excursions repertoire.

Of course before embarking on one of these adventures, make sure you are prepared with all the necessary supplies to get you through; especially plenty of water and a basic first aid kit. Also don’t forget to stretch prior to any strenuous activities. Trails are one of our Colorado State Parks’ most valuable assets. A positive trail experience requires cooperation, understanding and courtesy by all trail users. In general, all users should yield to horseback riders and bicyclists should yield to all users.

Hike It and Bike It

If you’re on the lookout for some breathtaking sights, First and Second Flatiron Loop is known for its breathtaking scenes. This dog friendly 2.5 mile loop trail located near Boulder, features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. This looped trail set does have some rock scrambles and switchbacks near the top and the recommendation of microspikes was prevalent, however it is possible to make it up the quick elevation gains without them. Even though this trail is often heavily trafficked, the views from the top are duly noted by all those who visit, with reviews that include; “amazing to photograph”, “an awesome sight”, and “stunning views”.

For a moderately easier hike for beginners, young children or sea-level visitors, Enchanted Mesa and McLintock Nature Trails offers a 1.9 mile moderately trafficked, heavily forested loop trail. The “enchanted” name is well-earned for the magical feel in some spots, with its curved trees, blooming wildflowers, and tall green grass. Rated 4.5 stars on Alltrails.com, this all skill level year-round accessible trail features a river and its looped trek is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and nature trips. However, it is worth noting this is a no-dogs allowed route and parking can be limited.

Get off the beaten path with these opportunities for mountain biking outings. In Boulder, a Super ride is one that starts from town, rather than at the trailhead. So start your Super Betasso ride anywhere that is convenient for you, but this route is written from Eben G Fine Park. Since it starts in town, the Super Betasso is a popular way to ride the connecting trails for Boulder residents. Note the bike directionality at Betasso changes month-to-month but you’ll find a bit of everything in this 16-mile linkup of bike path (just a bit), road (brief but but with a minimal shoulder and fast-moving traffic), a tough climb, and some really fun, swoopy singletrack on the two upper loops.

Betasso Preserve is a shorter version of The Super Betasso/Benjamin. Mountain vistas, views of golden plains, scenic trails, diverse habitats, and a rich heritage make Betasso Preserve a favorite destination in the foothills. Due to the popularity of Betasso Preserve, trail sharing and etiquette are particularly important since hiking, horseback riding, and dog-walking (on leash) are allowed on all trails. It is noted that hikers & equestrians are encouraged to visit Betasso on Wednesdays and Saturdays when bikes are not allowed on the trail.

Splish Splash

If water is more your thing, the Boulder area has no shortage of splashing good times. Boulder’s scenic waterways provide the perfect warm-weather cool-down for those seeking a smile-inducing tubing ride or a fun kayaking practice session. Rivers beyond Boulder hold even more experiences for thrilling whitewater adventures. Boulder Creek was named one of the 10 best lazy rivers for tubing in the U.S. by Men’s Journal. It is a popular tubing spot during the summer months. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own tube because you can buy one at several locations in town and then glide downstream. A stretch of Boulder Creek near Eben G. Fine Park also offers a 20-slalom-gate course for kayakers to hone their paddling skills. Kayak rentals are available at Colorado Water Sport. Of course, some folks prefer to simply stay on shore and cool off by wading in.

For a gentler experience, visit the beautiful 700-acre multi-use recreation and water-storage facility, Boulder Reservoir. They also rent small boats such as kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and canoes. Boulder Reservoir also offers a seasonally lifeguard attended swimming beach and features a marked swim area with rafts and even a shallow roped off area, that is great for small children. Plan on a park entry fee of $7/person, annual passes also available. Please note that although they love your dog, they are not allowed in the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

If you are a more experienced paddle board user or looking for an added challenge on the water check out the Standup Paddleboard Yoga classes offered through Rocky Mountain Paddleboard currently offered on Monday and Saturday mornings. During these on-water yoga classes let your instructor guide you through a “gentle flow and paddle”. Enjoy the serenity of the water as you take your yoga practice to the next level. Embrace the challenge of this floating class and test your balance; falling in is half the fun!

Fish it

With the beautiful Boulder Creek rushing through Boulder Canyon and right through the heart of town, Boulder makes it easy to get in some fishing time. Rainbow trout, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish are just some of the fish that swim our local waters. Be sure you have a valid fishing license before casting out in to any Colorado waters. Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds are two separate, but connected, series of ponds located in Eastern Boulder County that offer mediocre fishing, lots of birdwatching, and dozens of trails. Walden and Sawhill Ponds contain a couple dozen ponds altogether, but not all of them are fishable. Besides some ponds being dry on occasion, or very small or shallow, there are fishing restrictions on some of the ponds.here are plenty of small, lesser traveled ponds near the back of the properties where many have found success. Also, being a little more secluded, you might see a coyote or a deer or just enjoy your time alone. The properties also back up to Boulder Creek, which you are free to fish as well.

Button Rock Preserve is located in a quiet river valley about 7 miles west of Lyons, Colorado. Within this walk-in only preserve you will find Longmont and Ralph Price Reservoirs along the North Saint Vrain Creek. Longmont manages this natural watershed and reservoirs to preserve the resource and provide storage for the City’s water utility. The preserve creates a unique experience for visitors, providing opportunities to view wildlife, the natural environment and water management facilities at a close level. Trails within Button Rock Preserve offer scenic views and plenty of exercise for an afternoon outing. These trails also enable anglers to access many backcountry fishing locations.

Climb It

Boulder County is a hotbed for a variety of rock such as granite, Dakota sandstone, and quartzite – just to name a few. Climbers will also find a variety of disciplines to challenge themselves with, from sport and traditional to bouldering and even ice climbing.

No matter your climbing style or ability, Boulder, CO offers plenty of opportunities to seek new heights and gain new perspectives with plenty of excellent options.

Stunning Eldorado Canyon State Park is the area’s climbing mecca, but it’s also a perfect spot to hike, fish, snowshoe, watch climbers or picnic along South Boulder Creek. The park is comprised of two non contiguous patches of land linked by a 5.5-mile hiking trail. There are 12 total miles of hiking trails to explore, but mountain biking is limited to the Walker Ranch Loop. Climbers aren’t the only wildlife here — mule deer, mountain lions, foxes, black bears, golden eagles and seven species of bats abide in this protected haven. Bikers, hikers and riders (horseback) can hit the park’s five trails, which lead through peaks of stunning sandstone and granite.

Dramatic views of the Continental Divide and canyon sprout from every tree-lined trail bend. Relax and lunch near South Boulder Creek — the carving force behind Eldorado’s canyon — while watching fly-fisherman catch the night’s dinner. A day park only (no camping), arrive early morning or on weekdays for ultimate serenity, or visit during cooler months or at sunrise, when the park’s is its most quiet. Right in our backyard; attracting climbers from all over the world and is considered one of the most historic centers of American rock climbing- Eldorado Canyon State Park, or Eldo as most climbers call it.  It is also our backyard. The towering sandstone walls are decorated with countless classic climbs and lesser known gems. Climbing in Eldorado Canyon can be odd and it requires some getting used to. It is primarily a traditional area, yet there is relatively little crack climbing.

Boulder County is a hotbed for a variety of rock such as granite, Dakota sandstone, and quartzite – just to name a few. Climbers will also find a variety of disciplines to challenge themselves with, from sport and traditional to bouldering and even ice climbing.

No matter your climbing style or ability, BoCo offers plenty of opportunities to seek new heights and gain new perspectives with plenty of excellent options. A nearby canyon, known as Dream Canyon has also become popular for climbing parties. Offering a good variety of sport and traditional climbs, you will find a majority of the climbs at the Lost Angel route and Dream Dome.

Ride it

When your arms and legs are tired from all the hiking, climbing and swimming- perhaps it is a good time to let someone else do the work, or something else, like a horse. Experience Colorado like early explorers did, when horses were the fastest way to get from point A to point B. Even today, there are many hidden places in that state that a cushy SUV doesn’t take you. Possibilities for you and your four-hoofed buddy include iconic landmarks hidden deep in Colorado public lands to rocky vistas above the Continental Divide, the list of  are endless. While horseback riding isn’t readily available to visitors within the city of Boulder, nearby stables offer riding experiences to enjoy the foothills and valleys Boulder calls home. The Boulder Outdoor Center offers horseback trail rides in summer months at their stable, located in Bear Creek Lake Park in the foothills of Lakewood, Colorado.

At 12 Miles Stables in Aurora they can meet your needs of a small or large group for horse rides located inside Cherry Creek State Park. 12 Miles Stables has been a staple of the Aurora community for decades. With over 3300 acres and 27 miles of riding trails to give your family a great adventure, they even offer sunset dinner rides for the romantic twist or a solo nature connection.

If you want to see things nobody else does, you have to go where nobody else is. Adventure rides from Maroon Bells are for people who know they have to do a little more traveling to get to remote, exquisite places and are based out of our sister site near the Flattops Wilderness area. Riders usually stay in Meeker the night before the trip and arrive at the ranch the next morning to meet their horses. The ride ascends on top of the spectacular Flattop mountains and concludes with camp under the stars. Guests use this time to interact with family and friends, reward employees, read a book, fish, hike, and contemplate while they take care of the camp duties.

Fly Sky High

Perhaps one of the best ways to see Boulder is from the sky. Imagine a silent drift over Boulder Valley’s hills, lush fields, and ponds all while soaking up the early-morning sun and fresh air — with the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the distance. Take in the unique panoramic view of the Boulder area and the Colorado Mountains with a float through the morning sky in the first form of air travel- Hot Air Balloon. Aero-Cruise Balloon Adventures based out of Lafayette offers private or group flights year-round hot air balloon rides along the beautiful Colorado Front Range. With over 35 years of flight experience & invite you enjoy the Colorado outdoors in a new & unique way. Flights include a continental breakfast, hot air balloon flight, champagne toast, picture, and launch sites are conveniently located near Denver, Boulder, & Estes Park.

Take a flight in the “Rolls Royce” of helicopters with Colorado Vertical and their Robinson R66. This million dollar machine is known for its power at high altitude and is perfect for flying in Colorado’s mountains. The seating is raved as optimal for viewing, making it ideal for scenic touring. Pilots Eli Plavney and Will Sanders have thousands of flight hours providing scenic tours in Colorado’s mountains and a combined 30 years in the aviation industry. In addition to scenic tour work, both pilots have experience in many different airframe types and flight fields. Both pilots love to share Colorado’s epic views as well as the thrill of helicopter flight with their passengers. They may be a bit of a drive to get to, but the adventure will be worth it.

If you are up for an even bigger thrill Mile Hi Skydiving Center is Colorado’s top ranked and largest skydiving facility with more than 35,000 jumps made annually. It is the only full-time skydiving operation within 100 miles of the Denver-Boulder area (12 miles from Boulder). With the largest fleet of full time twin engine jet-prop aircraft within several states capable of producing hundreds of jumps per day, they boast the very best in aircraft, skydiving equipment, instructors and customer service.  A Mile-Hi tandem skydive for beginners is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get in the sky. Their twin engine jet-prop aircraft fleet will elevate you to change altitude faster than anyone else in the state. Then jump together with your nationally licensed tandem instructor from up to 18000’ above sea level as you freefall at 130mph. According to their tandem jump description, “after that intense thrill, you slow down to a quiet, serene ride, flying your parachute, soaring like a glider to landing”. They claim you can make your first skydive in greater ease and safety than ever before with the tandem skydiving pilot-passenger freefall system. The parachute, especially built for two, will carry you and your instructor to a soft landing.

Whatever your adventurous heart desires, there is an endless variety of outdoor excursions available in the BoCo area this summer. So hit those trails, throw some lines, fly high, and explore all this region has to offer.