Bluebell Trail, Woods Quarry Trail & Enchanted Mesa in Boulder (spot my cousin avoiding the ice!)

I am an all year around kind of hiker. Hiking season never ends in my eyes but it does get a bit more challenging to find hikes to do in the winter and spring. Because of the snow and ice in Colorado, I like to stick to shorter trails during these seasons in case I have to trudge through snow (which is tiring!). I also find that shorter hikes align with the limited daylight hours and slightly lower energy levels I sometimes feel during these seasons. Deep in the mountains, the trails are typically covered with a lot of snow which makes for great snow shoeing but sometimes I want trails that are clear of snow or have packed snow/ice so I can stick to wearing my spikes. I will admit, the traffic up to the ski mountains makes trails located closer to Denver a more desirable option as well. I’ve been able to check out quite a few trails in the foothills this winter and spring and have compiled a list of ones I’ve really enjoyed. So, here is my list of some great hikes I’ve done this past winter and spring season that are closer to Denver, have a lot less snow, and are short enough you can do them after work (like me!) if you so wish.

Mount Sanitas via Lion’s Lair Trail
  • Mount Sanitas via Lion’s Lair Trail (Boulder, 4.6 miles, 826 ft. gain): This trail takes you up to Mt. Sanita’s without all the foot traffic and rocks that the main Mt. Sanitas trail offers. There isn’t a ton of parking near this trailhead but it’s definitely worth getting there early and having the place to yourself on a Saturday morning! There are also stunning views on the quiet hike up 🙂
  • Bluebell Trail, Woods Quarry Trail, & Enchanted Mesa (Boulder, 3.1 miles, 698 ft. gain): When people think of hiking in Colorado, I would bet that a lot of folks picture the flatirons in Boulder. I’ve hiked the trails up to the flatirons more than my fair share of times but this trail is one I could do over and over again! The views are beautiful and there is a lot less traffic on this lesser known loop so I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quick hike!
NCAR Ramble Trail
  • NCAR Ramble Trail (Boulder, 3.4 miles, 721 ft. gain): I visited NCAR a few years back to give a presentation for work and at the time I did not notice all of the trails surrounding the facility. I recently found quite a few trails I wanted to do in this area through All Trails including Bear Peak in the summer but I decided to try the Ramble Trail in the meantime. It was a low cloud morning and the trail was very scenic, quiet and moody. I can’t wait to go back to check out more hikes in this area in the coming months.
  • Olivine Trail Loop (Golden, 1.5+ miles, 367+ ft. gain): Olivine Trail Loop is a great hike after work. There is a large trail system you can connect to and make this hike much longer if that is your preference. This trail system is located near the heart of Golden so you can enjoy shopping or eats after!
  • Red Rocks Trail to Cherry Gulch Loop (Morrison, 2.9 miles, 410 ft. gain): This trail has quickly become a favorite for an after work sunset hike. The trail system in this area is large so you have the option to make this longer or shorter depending on how much time and energy you have. The views are gorgeous to watch sunset and this is also a great trail for entry level trail running!
  • North Table Mountain Park (Golden, 3+ miles, 700+ ft. gain): North Table Mountain Park has been a place I have been frequenting since college. It offers it all: amazing loops for trail running, short hikes, long hikes, great views, elevation gain, the occasional coyote or deer. You really can’t go wrong with visiting this park and it’s proximity to Denver and Golden make it very convenient.
Green Mountain West Trail (Boulder)
  • Green Mountain West Trail (Boulder, 4 miles, 721 ft. gain): I have hiked this trail twice and each time I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. It is a great hike through the forest and at the top there are panoramic mountain views. This trail is located off Flagstaff road in Boulder which is a fun road to drive and offers so many hiking trail options you will never get bored!
  • White Ranch Park (Golden, 2.4+ miles, 300 ft. gain): White Ranch Park is a rather recent find and I can’t believe I didn’t find it sooner! The hike I’ve done here and enjoyed is this loop. This area offers so many trails you could spend a lot of time exploring them all. You pass some big beautiful homes while hiking in this area that will be sure to get you day dreaming about your future 🙂
  • Apex Park (Golden, 3.5+ miles, 780+ ft. gain): Apex park is located very close to Golden but when you start hiking you feel like you are deeper in the mountains. The trail I hiked quickly became very serene as it started through a valley along a creek. You can find a lot of elevation gain, beautiful views, and mountain feels without being far removed from the city. There are hiking & biking rules as to which days each group can be on the trails (even or odd calendar dates) to manage traffic so be cognizant of this when you are planning your trip.
  • Eagle’s View Trail Loop (Conifer, 4.2 miles, 1082 ft. gain): Reynolds Park is a fun area to hike as it has a lot to offer when it comes to trails and views. I love the Conifer area so this loop is one I have done several times and continue to enjoy.
Independence Mountain Trail at Pence Park
  • Independence Mountain Trail at Pence Park (Evergreen, 2.1 miles, 741 ft. gain): This trail is short and sweet! It packs in the elevation gain over the first mile and as a result you are brought to sweeping mountain views at the top. My sister and I really enjoyed our hike through the trees and the surprise view at the end.
  • Green Mountain Park (Lakewood, 1.8+ miles, 400+ ft. gain): Green Mountain Park is a bustling area after work which is when I like to enjoy it. It’s centrally located and is a great quick escape to get some miles in and fresh air after a day hunched over my computer (Sorry, dad! Still working on my posture).

These are a few of the trails I have been enjoying over the past couple of months for winter and spring hiking and I hope you enjoy them too. There are so many trails in the areas surrounding Denver that, like me, you can hike for many years to come and still find something new. Enjoy!

Until the next tale… Happy trails.



  1. Typing position young lady. Good firm seat with lumbar support, feet flat on the floor, shoulders back chest out, chin held high. Thanks for sharing. Love Dad!


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