There are so many amazing hikes in the front range area. If you are from the area you know just how popular hiking is (and for good reason, it is so beautiful). If you aren’t from the area I highly recommend checking it out. I thought of more and more good hikes as I was writing this post so this is by no means a comprehensive list, I just needed to stop somewhere. I will probably do a part two at some point but for now I stuck to sharing the hikes that I have either done most often or that are my favorites. I also stuck with shorter hikes (all of these can be done in under two hours) that are relatively close to Boulder.
Sanitas: This mountain is a must do when visiting Boulder. It is a pretty significant elevation gain and will take a couple of hours so I suggesting planning accordingly (hike in the morning, take lots of water and get adjusted to the altitude first). While is on the more challenging side, the views of Boulder and the plains are incredible and it is so worth it. It might be the most popular hike in the area so I suggest parking at the base of the goat trail (Linden).
Boulder Valley Ranch: This is area is one of my favorites for running. There are gorgeous views of the plains and mountains the whole way and you can can extend your route to cover more mileage. I also like that this is a loop, that always helps me motive myself when running. The loop itself is around three miles and it is relatively flat so it is a great place to take people who are just adjusting to the altitude.
Heil Valley Ranch: While I went here as a kid quite a few times it had been years, I could barely remember it. I went back with some family while I was home in August and I really loved it. There is such a variety of trails. There is a short nature trail that is perfect for kids. And there is a much longer hike that goes up into the mountains. There is also a great trail back along the road that has lots of wildlife. I would say the only thing to watch out for is mountain bikers. It is a pretty popular place for biking.
Walden Ponds: These ponds are out on the plains and a great place to take the whole family. You can explore the trails as much as you like and there is quite a bit of wildlife. It is another great option for beginner hikers and for getting used to the altitude.
Bear Peak: This is the other more challenging hike that I am including. It takes several hours (so start early) and you gain a lot of elevation. This mountain is a great alternative to Sanitas in that it is a little less popular, parking is not as hard (you park at NCAR) and it also has some stellar views. I could not find photos from Bear Peak so these are from a hike just north of NCAR.
Wonderland Lake: I could never make this list without including my favorite spot in Boulder. It is less than a ten minute walk from the house I grew up in and I have spent so many hours walking, hiking and even cross country skiing around this lake. The views are stunning and while there are always a few people it is not quite as busy as Sanitas or Chautauqua. While it is a short walk around the lake (maybe 45 minutes) you can do more challenging hikes up in the foothills. I love extending my run around the lake by going up to the look out on the mountain.
Chautauqua and the Flat Irons: This list would also not be complete without including the iconic flat irons. They are just as amazing in person and I highly recommend at least a short hike in this area. It can be really crowded so I would time it well (ideally during the work day) and do a longer route to get out of the busy areas. Hiking up to the flatirons is a popular option but lots of the foothills trails connect so there are so many options.
I hope these give you some ideas for the next time you are visiting the front range area (or if you are just wanting something different from your usual). Let me know if you have any recommendations! I grew up in Boulder (almost 20 years) and go back a ton but am still always finding new things. I actually love that about this area.