We like to dissuade the winter blues by getting some exercise and breathing in the fresh air! There’s nothing quite as cozy as coming home after a hike or run to sip hot chocolate and sit by the fire. Here are a few hikes primarily in the Boulder area that will leave you wondering why you ever considered I-70 traffic for resort day.
Before diving into some fun winter hikes in our area, make sure you and your car are prepared for cold winter conditions. Dress in warm layers, wear a warm hat and mittens, have waterproof shoes and extra socks, and of course - bring water! Keep a first aid kit in your backpack and check trail conditions ahead of time to see if you will need to wear traction to prevent slips and falls.
The Flatirons dusted in snow is a sight to behold and one of the best views is from the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage. This area is well-trafficked, however, some trails are better than others in winter. Due to its hilliness and since the high traffic compacts the snow, you may want to bring good traction. Trails we recommend in the winter from the Chautauqua trailhead on Baseline are Bluebell Rd., Bluebell Mesa, Enchanted Mesa, Baseline Trail, and the Meadow Trail.
Now, you’ve probably hiked Sanitas, and it was crowded and steep. But would you believe it if we told you there was a more gradual, less crowded way? Lion’s Lair starts up Sunshine Canyon Dr. and takes wide sweeping switchbacks to stroll up the back of Sanitas. This trail is wooded, so the freeze-thaw effects forming ice that hit many popular trails do not have as much of an effect here. After a lot of snow, bring your snowshoes to make fresh tracks in the snow! From the Lion’s Lair trailhead up Sunshine Canyon Dr. this is about 2 miles one way. You can make this hike longer by starting at Centennial Trailhead, however, the Sunshine canyon trail is frequently icy. Your furry companions will have to stay home for this one, no dogs are allowed on the Lion’s Lair trail.
One of the most popular and accessible alpine hikes is to Lost Lake near Eldora. This area has a low-risk for avalanche and is well-traveled making the snow packed and easy to walk without ‘post-holing’. Many people bring snowshoes for this trail, but most times you will be fine with good waterproof shoes and traction. The Lost Lake trail passes through the old Hessie townsite and aspen groves to reach an alpine lake with views of the Continental Divide. The climbing increases shortly before reaching the lake. This hike is a little bit longer in the winter since the road to Hessie Trailhead is closed. If you have done this hike in the summer, plan on it taking a bit longer in the winter and you may have high winds near the lake.
After freshly fallen snow, Wonderland Lake in North Boulder is a well-kept secret for its beauty and views of the foothills. The network of trails provides options for a hilly climb for a view of Boulder blanketed in snow, or a flat hike around the lake or towards the Foothill area and Lee Hill Dr. This is a great area to get in a brief walk before work or to bring the family for a weekend outing.