Spending some time in Boulder, CO this Winter? Consider exploring the area via snowshoes!
Snowshoeing is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors and mountains in and around Boulder.
While summer has its own charms, Winter provides Microadventures with the golden opportunity to explore some beautiful snowshoeing trails around Boulder. If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of snowshoeing, there’s no better place to try out a new Winter sport than in Boulder.
Snowshoeing is one of the most popular Winter activities in Boulder and attracts Microadventurers of all ages who seek Winter sightseeing via snowshoeing over deep powder.
There are so many incredible trails and parks to explore in the form of dedicated snowshoeing trails and parks as well as the miles of trails in the wilderness area directly west of downtown Boulder.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to plan a day out snowshoeing! That’s where we come in.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite snowshoeing trails in and around the Boulder, CO area:
#7 Meyers Homestead Trail
Walker Ranch Open Space – Southwest of Boulder
Located just south of downtown Boulder off of Flagstaff Road in the Walker Ranch Park and Open Space lies the Meyers Homestead Trail.
Because of its proximity to downtown Boulder, the Meyers Homestead trail is one of the most common places to snowshoe for beginners and seasoned pros looking for a “warm-up” during the early portion of the Winter season.
At just over 5.5 miles out-and-back, the Meyers Homestead Trail traverses up Meyers Gulch and ends at a high-point on top of a hill. Known as the “Boulder Canyon Overlook,” you’ll be able to see miles of snow-capped mountains towards the west.
Along the trail, you’ll pass through both wide-open meadows and pine forests as you climb your way to the overlook on your snowshoes.
#6 Brainard Lake Loop via the Waldrop Trail
In Brainard Lake Recreation Area
For those looking for a little longer of an afternoon in the woods, consider snowshoeing around Brainard Lake via the Waldrop Trail. Located in Brainard Lake Recreational Area west of Boulder, this flat, 6.2-mile loop circumvents Brainard Lake as well as two small ponds.
Most of the trail is set deep in the forests where you’ll spend your time snowshoeing amongst towering pines. This area is excellent for viewing wildlife including deer, marmots, and even moose, so keep your eyes open!
The trail then loops around the lake as it heads back to the parking lot off of Brainard Lake Road.
As you snowshoe along the Waldrop Trail if you become tired and wait to turn around, cut across the forest to meet up with Brainard Lake Road which will take you back to the parking lot.
Fair-warning, the Waldrop Trail is a popular cross-country skiing trail as well so expect to see fresh-cut tracks.
Stay out of the cross-country skiing tracks! Punch your own trail with your snowshoes instead of hiking in the fresh-cut tracks.
Because most of the trail is through a dense pine forest, snowshoeing on Waldrop Trail is going to be quite shady. Plan your snowshoeing gear and layers accordingly- this trail gets colder than others on our list.
#5 Green Mountain Loop
West of Downtown Boulder
Sandwiched between Flagstaff Road and Chautauqua Park lies the 7-mile Green Mountain Loop trail. This moderately trafficked lollipop-loop trail is located just southwest of downtown Boulder.
The Green Mountain Loop trail is one of the most difficult snowshoeing trails on our list!
The trail climbs to the 7,927-foot summit of Green Mountain which rests behind the Flatirons. You’ll have over 2,200 feet of elevation gain start-to-finish.
The Green Mountain Loop trail is steep! There are several sections that are over 30% grade!
If the snow is really deep, you might have to take smaller steps or utilize fallen tree branches to prevent you from post-holing in your snowshoes.
As you snowshoe along the Green Mountain Loop trail, expect fantastic views of both the wide expanse of forest and the mountains to the west. You’ll catch views of the Front Range mountains, Flatirons, and several other high-points as you snowshoe.
Be prepared for the beauty and difficulty of this trail to knock your socks off!
The climb to the summit of Green Mountain is worth snowshoeing this trail alone. Combined with the views of the mountains to the west, both of those attributes give this trail the title as one of our favorite snowshoeing trails in Boulder.
#4 Mount Sanitas via the East Ridge Trail
West of Downtown Boulder
Considered “Boulder’s Favorite Hike” during the Summer, snowshoeing Mount Sanitas is just as rewarding during the Winter.
Located just minutes from downtown Boulder, the East Ridge Trail will take you up to the summit of Mount Sanitas via the eastern face.
This 3.1-mile loop has almost 1,500 feet of elevation gain from start to finish. Expect to be huffing and puffing on this one! While it’s not as intense as snowshoeing to the summit of Green Mountain (see #5 on our list), it’s definitely going to get your blood pumping.
There are multiple starting points on Mount Sanitas but we like snowshoeing via the East Ridge Trail. It has the best views of downtown Boulder compared to other snowshoeing trails to the summit.
As you’re snowshoeing, don’t forget to look west to catch views of the beautiful Sunshine Canyon.
The East Ridge Trail is a very popular trail throughout the year. Consider going during an off-peak time of the week to avoid other snowshoers, trail runners, or hikers.
#3 DeLonde Trail and Blue Bird Loop Combo
In Caribou Ranch Open Space
Located southwest of Boulder outside of the town of Nederland lies a nature preserve with some real charm: the Caribou Ranch Open Space.
At nearly four miles from end-to-end, we highly recommend snowshoeing the DeLonde Trail and Blue Bird Loop in one afternoon. The DeLonde Trail is a relatively flat snowshoe through a pine-covered forest area, while the Blue Bird Loop splits the scenery between forests and meadows with a small creek crossing (DeLonde Creek) along the way. You can snowshoe both trails in about four hours.
Along the Blue Bird Loop, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the DeLonde Homestead- a large farmhouse utilized as a home base for nearby mining operations.
While the snowshoeing here is limited, you’re bound to have the trails to yourself. This fact combined with the overall quiet nature of the trails is what adds this area to our list.
#2 Bummers Rock via the Betasso Link Trail
West of Downtown Boulder
Heading west on CO 119 from downtown Boulder lies a hill with jagged-limestone at its summit: Bummers Rock.
Standing at just over 6,600 feet, Bummers Rock offers an unobstructed 360 view of the Rocky Mountains to the west, Boulder to the east, snow-covered pine forests to the south, and open-plains to the north.
This climb is usually done via the Betasso Link Trail that circumvents Bummers Rock from the south, ending on the north side of the hill.
While you might think climbing another mountain on your snowshoes seems daunting, Bummers Rock via the Betasso Link Trail isn’t as challenging as you think!
At just over 3.5 miles end-to-end, you’ll only gain about 900 feet in elevation as you snowshoe to the summit. That’s a cake-walk compared to the others!
Despite being an easier snowshoeing Microadventure than other trails we’ve mentioned, the insane views from the summit of Bummers Rock give this trail “street cred” earning it a spot on our list.
Be warned that CO 119 is under construction as of the writing of this post and could be difficult to drive during or after heavy snowstorms. While the highway is paved, there is a chance that certain sections of the highway may be bare gravel as construction continues through 2021.
#1 Royal Arch Trail
West of Downtown Boulder
This trail easily earns the title of our favorite snowshoeing trail in Boulder…and not just because this was my first hike in Boulder back in 2009!
The Royal Arch Trail cuts just under the Flatirons ending at an incredible (but scary-looking) arch. The Royal Arch is huge- large enough to fit a bus and is easily the most stunning part of the trek.
As you snowshoe up the trail, you’ll be immersed in a pine forest at the foot of the Flatirons. The views of the Flatirons are incredible the entire way.
Standing next to both the Royal Arch and the towering Flatirons less than 400 feet away is an experience worth the trek alone.
The Royal Arch Trail is just over four miles from start to finish and is quite a difficult snowshoeing trek-especially after heavy snowfall. You’ll gain nearly 1,500 feet over the course of the day.
Once you top out at the arch, we highly recommend exploring the canyon and lower sections of the Flatirons further.
Many snowshoers will remove their snowshoes and continue exploring by scrambling parts of the Flatirons.
Being very careful while snowshoeing this trail. It’s steep and there are several drop-offs around Royal Arch.
If you do decide to explore further than Royal Arch, watch your footing and be aware of any icefall or rockfall. The Royal Arch and Royal Arch Trail sits on the north “face” of the canyon and doesn’t receive a lot of direct sunlight in the Winter.
With so many trails to snowshoe around Boulder, Colorado it’s easy to become overwhelmed and anxious about choosing the best places to go for the afternoon.
Fortunately, the seven snowshoeing trails and treks on our list are great ways to explore the incredible mesas, meadows, and mountains that sit around Boulder.
Don’t feel bored during a visit or trip to Boulder this Winter! Grab your snowshoes and get out there!
Ali is a strength and conditioning specialist for the Air Force. Based in Albuquerque, on the weekends she can be found hiking and camping all around New Mexico with her dog Phin.