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.

Bald Mountain

Overview

Bald Mountain is a fitting name for this little park perched on the top of a mountain, as the peak is nearly bare of trees. The winding drive up the mountain side makes for a great drive and the trail offers the perfect place to stretch your legs. After hiking the one trail in this park the best thing to do is enjoy a picnic on one of the lovely picnic areas. This park is very close to Boulder, however you should not find it to be overly crowded. 

1 Mile of Trail

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking 
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Weapons are not forbidden
  • Camping is not permitted
  • 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:

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

View from Bald Mountain near Boulder Colorado
View from Bald Mountain

Pines to Peak Loop

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1 Mile
Time Needed25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: This is the only trail in the park
  • Moderately steep
  • Can be very windy

Trailhead:Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the mountains all around
  • Views of Boulder

Review:

Being only one mile and somewhat of a drive to get to you may be tempted to skip this little trail and wee park. I would caution you not to miss out on this trail, perhaps you can bring along a lunch and have a lovely little hike and a picnic at one of the many table very near the parking lot. The trail is not too difficult at any spot on the trail, but does have a decent climb in a few spots. A large portion of the park and surrounding area was burnt in a fire. The remaining house on the mountains adjacent to the park stand out. From the top you can see for miles into the distant peaks and valleys, and right down on Boulder below to the east. It is truly worth the time it takes to drive up here.

Hall Ranch

All along the Front Range you will find amazing parks to hike, picnic, mountain bike and horse ride in, and Hall Ranch is no exception. The 11.8 miles of trails are demanding at times, but suitable for most skill and endurance levels. The views from the trail will inspire you to adventure further into the mountains and experience the wonders of the Rocky Mountains.  The main parking area of the park is large, with several restrooms and great covered picnic areas, but keep in mind this park can easily fill up in the summer months. 

Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains
Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains

11.8 miles of trails on this guide

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Free downloadable maps are available from Boulder County  .You can also use the GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Nighthawk Trail:

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank4.7 Miles
Time Needed180 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Bitterbrush trail, Button Rock trail, Nelson loop
  • Mostly exposed hiking
  • Centaur Equestrian and Hiker only

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Grand views of the northern Front Range
  • Great views of red rock mesa near the parking area
  • Very beautiful area

Review:

The views all along this trail seem to go from great to outstanding the further along this trail you hike. The trail starts out relatively flat and begins a steady 1200 plus foot climb as you walk past endless natural beauty. There is not a lot in the way of tree cover along the trail so come prepared for the sun. It is worth keeping in mind that if combined with bitterbrush trail you are looking at a solid eight and a half plus mile hike, and if you run this trail out and back you are looking at a good nine plus miles of pure hiking enjoyment..

Nelson Loop Trail

Rocky Mountain Farm house in Hall Ranch
Rocky Mountain Farm house
Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank2.4 Miles
Time Needed1 Hour

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:Nighthawk and Bitterbrush trails
  • Fairly flat hike
  • Partially treed

Trailhead:S-Nighthawk or Bitterbrush trail | R or L – Nelson Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Old farm buildings
  • Very nice wooden bridge

Review:

There is a very cool old farm house along the trail abandoned by the habitation of man for some time now. The trail has little in the way of elevation change and little tree cover. From the looks of the trail combined with my ability to look into the nether, I would say that a band of fairies have been collecting the dead fall from the trees and gathering them up to build their homes from. This is most likely reason for the areas intense beauty and continual sense of euphoria while hiking in the area.  

Bitterbrush Trail

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank3.7 Miles
Time Needed80 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Antelope trail, Nelson Loop, and Nighthawk trail
  • Mostly exposed hiking
  • Steep in places
  • Very rocky in places
  • Would be a technical ride

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views

Review:

While there are some great views along the trail, the first portion of the trail is slightly easier on the eyes. The trail starts from the very nice parking and picnicking area and swings out around the towering mesa to the north. When you reach the junction with Antelope trail there is a nice bike station that should help you take care of any bike related issues you may have developed along the trail. The hike is steep in places, but the trail is easy to follow and is well marked.

Antelope Trail

Beautiful Mountain View on Antelope Canyon Trail in Hall Ranch
Beautiful Mountain View on Antelope Canyon Trail
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1.0 Miles
Time Needed22 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Bitterbrush trail
  • Mostly exposed hike

Trailhead: Starts at parking area of Antelope Dr.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Mountain and valley views

Review:

This trail is best hiked in from the small parking area off of Antelope Dr. The trail is short and exposed almost the entire way, but if you are hiking in the earlier part of the day the large mesa to the south of the trail will likely diffuse most of the sunlight. There is a rather nice bike station at the trail junction with bitterbrush trail and a bench to take a rest before you start the rest of your trek into the park. This trail is a great option if you are looking to jump on Nelson Loop and see the old farmhouse, but don’t have the time to take one of the longer hikes in.