TRAILHEAD

By Julie Kailus

Look no further for the paths worth exploring, the tech, gear and experts to take you further, plus the places locals love to rest and revive when strive time is over.

Happy Trails

With hundreds of miles of trails in Boulder County, we can’t list them all. But here are a few favorites for your trail activities.

Chautauqua Park
Want quintessential Boulder? Head for the hills and a red-rock walk leading to the famous Flatirons. There are loads of options here, from short jaunts to the sinuous nearly 7-mile Mesa Trail. Picnics at the park and poking around the historic cottages are welcomed, too. Grant and Baseline.

Mt. Sanitas
A close-in favorite among runners, this moderate to challenging trail network orients around a stunning ridgeline with rich views. Mountain lions do inhabit the area, but there’s a better chance of seeing a coyote, fox, mule deer or a dozen resident dogs here. Park at Centennial Trailhead on the south side of Mapleton Avenue.

Dowdy Draw
Showcasing Boulder County’s trail diversity, Dowdy Draw Trail leads to some approachable bike loops just southwest of town. The main canal-side trail meanders through a savannah ecosystem, ponderosa pine stand and a conservation area. Beginner mountain bikers will appreciate a ride with views of the mountains without having to climb straight up them. Fee parking off Highway 170 (Eldorado Springs Drive).

For more trail intel, check www.bouldercounty.org/openspace/parks-and-trails and www.bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/basic-trail-information.

There’s an app for that…

THE DOWNLOAD
Download these apps to make trail navigation easy.

Strava
This ubiquitous personal mapping and fitness app just won’t quit. No matter what the sport, use Strava to see where you’re headed, how far off the grid you’ve gone, what you did to your body—and share it all with people who care. It’s adventurous and addictive. www.strava.com; free

MTB Project
Meet the leader in crowd-sourced mountain-bike-friendly trails and online maps. Check out GPS routes to find a quick ride or plan a complete bikepacking trip. The project began with MTB, but today there are similar sites for hiking, trail running, climbing and backcountry skiing. www.mtbproject.com; free

PeakFinder
Boulder bumps up to many mountains. Whether you’re
looking to run, bike, hike or just ponder a peak, this visual app delivers the eye candy. It has aggregated 650,000 mountains around the world. Just open the app, point your phone at a vista and every peak will be within your reach. It even works offline. www.peakfinder.org; $4.99

 

Local Outfitters

Shop local for all your trail gear.

Pedestrian Shop
Centrally located on the Pearl Street Mall, this shoe shop has been equipping hikers since Boulder’s hippie heydays. Here, experts peddle comfort and natural form. Think Birkenstock, Keen and local favorite, Lems, which invented the ultimate souvenir: the Boulder Boot. 1425 Pearl St.; Boulder, www.comfortableshoes.com.

Neptune Mountaineering
Don’t let the name intimidate. This legendary South Boulder outfitter stocks all kinds of footwear, apparel, maps and more. But come with some free time. There’s a café inside, plus roaming experts on everything Boulder outdoors. 633 S. Broadway, Unit A, Boulder; www.neptunemountaineering.com.

Mountain Man
If you’re already heading west to hike, stop by Nederland’s cozy Mountain Man Outdoor Store. This no-nonsense supplier has all the stuff you might need for your vertical excursion: socks, navigation tools, trail snacks and rad gadgets from Boulder-born Nite Ize. Oh, and no shortage of advice. 20 Lakeview Drive, #111, Nederland; www.mountainmangear.com.

McGuckin Hardware
It’s true. McGuckin Hardware has everything. And if they don’t have it, you probably don’t need it anyway. You’ll find everything from sunglasses and packs to shoes and bike accessories. It’s a one-stop shop for stocking up on trail gear. 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Unit D1, Boulder; www.mcguckin.com.

Après Adventure

Because who doesn’t have a hankering for a cold, frosty one after an afternoon on the trail?

Rayback Collective
Grab a picnic table on the patio at this hip Boulder staple for a hearty post-trail snack. The rotating schedule of food trucks ensures everyone will find something they love! Choose a favorite local beer on tap to wash the dirt out of your teeth and crush your buddies at a game of cornhole. Pups are welcome too! 2775 Valmont Road, Boulder; www.therayback.com.

Southern Sun
The bigger sister of Boulder’s original downtown Mountain Sun, this South Boulder hangout is always a warm spot for chilling after a hike, bike or trail run. In the summer, the sunbaked patio is the place to be for beer and bites. Flying solo? With books and board games, you never have to drink alone. 627 S. Broadway, Boulder; www.mountainsunpub.com.

The West End Tavern
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better post-ride or hike rooftop than this one. Throw down a delicious cheeseburger or get the smoker sampler for the table. Feeling really hungry? Ask about the Wing King Challenge to earn a T-shirt and Boulder notoriety. 926 Pearl St., Boulder; www.thewestendtavern.com.