Heil Ranch

Overview

Heil ranch went through a controlled burn recently and the signs of the work performed are evident. There are  several swaths of trees along the wapiti trail and Ponderosa trail that are standing dead with the traces of licking flames on the trunks. There is a wealth of stacked stone buildings within the park boundary from time past that have fallen under the hands of time. Be on the lookout for wildlife as the area is teeming with creatures both large and small.

For current trail conditions and news visit Boulder County’s


14.6 miles of trails 

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Dogs are not allowed in this park
  • Picnicking
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Weapons are not permitted
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Drinking or drug use is not allowed
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

Boulder Parks and Open Space @ (303) 678-6200

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Rocky Overlook in Heil Ranch Park
Rocky Overlook in Heil Ranch Park

Free downloadable maps are available from Boulder County Parks.  You can also use our GPX files to help plan your next adventure.

Wapiti Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank4
Distance Rank2.8 Miles
Time Needed65 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: with Ponderosa Trail
  • Easy trail
  • Little elevation change
  • Mostly exposed hiking

Trailhead: Trail starts at main parking area

Wapiti Trail Highlights:

  • Neat stone houses left as rubble
  • Forest is burned in places
  • Lots of sandstone on the trail
  • Popular centaur trail

Review:

The Wapiti trail along with all the others in the park is not too steep, and only offers hikers some sporadic tree cover. The first section of the trail starts off on an access road that soon veers to the left onto a smaller single track path with great views of the valley below. Near the end of the trail where the Ponderosa trail meets the Wapiti trail there is a very nice stone stacked cabin that has certainly felt the cold embraces of the hands of time. There is no roof on the structure and several of the walls have considerable holes in them (Perhaps from menacing Minotaur hammer smashing bouts).

Ponderosa Trail

Distant Mountains from Heil Ranch Park
Distant Mountains from Heil Ranch Park
Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank2.6 Miles
Time Needed146 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: with Wild Turkey and Wapiti Trails
  • Easy trail
  • Little elevation change
  • Mostly exposed
  • Large burn area

Trailhead: S – Wapiti trail | L Or R Ponderosa Loop

Ponderosa Trail Highlights:

  • Striking views at the scenic overlook where the Wild Turkey Trail meets the Ponderosa Trail for the second time.
  • Stone foundation at first trail junction with Wild Turkey trail

Review:

Ponderosa loop has a fair amount of trees some of which were also part of the recent prescribed burn area, so plan ahead and put on some sunscreen before you head out. The trail has very mild elevation changes and is a good hike for all ages, just bare in mind that the trek in along with this loop will be just shy of 8 miles. If you are visiting the park during the spring and summer the flies may be engaged in an epic battle with the invading nat population for control of the area. While major casualties are unlikely extreme annoyance is highly probable.  

Wild Turkey Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank2.9 Miles
Time Needed70 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Ponderosa and Picnic Rock trails
  • Mild elevation change
  • Views of the plains
  • Small amount of trees along the trail

Trail S – Wapiti | R – Ponderoas Loop | L – Wild Turkey trail or

Trail S – Wapiti | R- Ponderosa Loop | C – Ponderosa Loop | R – Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Trail Highlights:

  • Stone Foundation at the first trail junction with Ponderosa loop
  • Views at the end of the trail are quite good

Review:

Mountain Meadow in Heil Ranch
Mountain Meadow in Heil Ranch

Wild Turkey dances through meadows and dodges in an out of the trees. Shockingly just like those individuals that have consumed too much of the fluid that is sold under the same name. But all Joking aside the trail is quite good there is a fair amount of tree cover and connections with nearly all the trails in the park. The mountain meadow views are great and you can see far out on the plains below as you hike along the trail.

Lichen Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank1.0 Miles
Time needed to hike23 Minutes
Foot Bridge in Heil Ranch
Foot Bridge

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Wapiti trail
  • Hiker only
  • Easy hike
  • Slight elevation change
  • Mostly forested

Trailhead: Parking area

Lichen Loop Trail Highlights:

  • Informative signs along the trail
  • Lush dense forest for most of the trail
  • Close to the main parking lot

Review:

Coming in at a mile, this easy hike has gradual elevation changes and is in close proximity to the main parking area, making this trail a great option for quick visits and those with small children or elderly that want to be in nature without venturing too far.

Picture Rock Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank5.3 Miles
Time Needed105 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Wild Turkey trail
  • Gradual Elevation change
  • Mostly exposed hiking

Trailhead:Starts at Picture Rock Parking Area

Picture Rock Trail Highlights:

  • Most Amazing picnic table in Colorado with the most Amazing view.
  • Old abandoned Farm buildings
  • Old Abandoned Cars on trail
  • Remains of Stacked Stone Buildings
Looking over stacked stone wall in Heil Ranch
Stacked Stone Wall

Review:

This is by far my favorite hike in the park, the views of the valley that reach out towards Lyons are amazing. The trail is very popular with runners and mountain bikers so you are likely to have plenty of company along this trail.  About half way through the trail is quite possibly the best picnic area in the state. The large stone picnic table tucked under the trees would be the perfect place to watch the sun come up over the surrounding mountains with a cup of coffee. Farther along the trail there are several old farm buildings in various state of repair and a couple old vehicles that have been used as target practice.

Button Rock Nature Preserve

Overview

Button Rock Nature Preserve is where to hike when you are looking for an area as beautiful as Rocky Mountain National park, without the crowds.  There are a trails from all skill levels, from nice flat wide dirt roads to steep trails with outstanding views. Waterfall seekers will be pleased to know that the preserve has a beautiful waterfall at the end of an easy hike. This is also a great place to do some river fishing, just make sure you have the appropriate licenses. 


5.3 miles of trails

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed
  • There are a couple of marked off leash trails
  • Fishing (In places you will need a state fishing license and a longmont license keep an eye out for the signage to know where you can legally fish)
  • No overnight parking
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Fires are not allowed
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Bicycles are prohibited
  • No Centaurs Equestrians
  • Boats or floating devices are not allowed
  • No swimming

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain
Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain

Free downloadable maps are available from City of Longmont.  Another good planning resource is the Boulder/Golden #100 Map, along with our free GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Sleepy Lion Trail

Difficulty Rank 7 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed68 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Button Creek Dam Trail
  • Dogs do not need to be on a leash
  • Steep in places
  • Good tree cover

Trailhead: S – Button Creek Dam Trail | R – Sleepy Lion Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the dam are great near the summit
  • Great hike for wildflowers during spring and summer
  • Views of Ralph Pierce Reservoir

Review:

The trail is actually a very large loop that begins off the Button Creek Dam trail and loops around to the rear side of the dam outlet. The trail offers some decent tree cover and there are plenty of wildflowers in the meadows up the hill if you are hiking in the spring or summer. While the east side has a moderate to occasionally steep climb, the western section of the trail is rather steep. At about a mile in you will have the chance to jump on the Button Rock which leads into the Hall ranch area. If you are hiking with a dog, or are a mythical Centaur however you better stick to the Button Rock Nature preserve as neither creature is allowed in the Hall Ranch Park.

Button Creek Dam Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed55 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: To North Shore, and Sleepy Lion S Trails
  • Slight elevation gain until you reach the dam
  • High exposure to the elements

Trailhead : Starts at parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Follows the Saint Vrain Creek
  • Ralph Pierce Reservoir

Review:

Most of the trail is a dirt road skirting the Saint Vrain river as it leads up to the dam. The first ¾ of the trail is very easy having little elevation change, and sparse tree cover. Once you reach the discharge area for the Ralph Pierce reservoir, and manage to pull yourself away from the very intense water flow gushing out at least 100 yards before hitting the water in the Saint Vrain, you start to climb the dam. The trail becomes very steep  as you follow the switchbacks up the 200 foot climb in about a quarter mile. The views on top of the dam are breathtaking. I would highly recommend hiking the path along the shoreline to the north shore trail back down, as there is a very beautiful veil waterfall about halfway down the trail. There is also a very large steel bridge crosses the river.

Trail To North Shore

Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank10
Distance Rank0.6 Miles
Time Needed14 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Button Rock Dam Trail
  • Exposed to the elements the whole way
  • Fairly Steep
  • Wide dirt road

Trailhead: S – Button rock Dam road | R – Trail to North shore

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful Waterfall

Review:

Right off of the Button Creek dam trail there is a restroom and a large service style road that leads to the north shore. This trail is very exposed with little to no tree cover, but is a short easy hike that leads to some beautiful waterfalls and a very large steel bridge. Don’t forget the camera as this whole area is very beautiful. The trail continues on up the hill and connects with the Button Creek dam trail again at the top of the dam.