What Boulder lacks in local mountain bike trails, it more than makes up for in quality and quantity of hiking trails (unfortunately, the two are mutually exclusive). I would actually rate the proximity of these hikes as one of the top reasons I love living in Boulder County.
Requests for hikes that are local to the Denver metro area and good training for high-mountain hiking and climbing are frequent over at 14ers.com, so I thought I’d post a list of what I consider to be the Top 5 training hikes in Boulder.
I would also like to make a case for the cross-training benefits of these hikes for the average cyclist attempting to train consistently through the winter (and not go mental). The sustained gradients make for an excellent cardio and leg workout when road conditions are less than ideal and you don’t feel like spending 3+ hours on the trainer.
You can also string together any variety of trail combinations within the Boulder OSMP (I suggest picking up one of their great maps at the Chautauqua Ranger Station) for an extended outing that would rival any 14er in terms of distance and total gain.
- All distances and gain numbers are estimated one-way unless otherwise indicated (I will update with GPS-confirmed data as it is gathered).
- I’m not bothering with either directions to the trailheads or specific directions for the hikes themselves as this information is already readily available on the interwebs.
- My rough criteria for choosing these hikes is as follows: 1. Physical challenge; 2. Trailhead convenience & proximity; 3. “Epic” factor–mainly terrain & scenery.
Here’s the list in, of course, ascending order:
Distance: 2.8 miles
Average Grade: 15.5%
Distance: 2.1 miles
Average Grade: 20.1%
Distance: 3.35 miles
Average Grade: 16.5%
Distance: 1.4 miles
Average Grade: 19.2%
Average Grade: 17.5%