The Mount Sanitas Trail
1777 Broadway, Boulder
Mount Sanitas is a classic Boulder hike, in part because it's located walking distance from the center of Pearl Street. The trail itself is a brutal climb, but making it to the top, where you can see the entire town to the east and Long's Peak to the west, is more than worth it. This is a popular route for locals around lunchtime, and don't be surprised if you see people running the entire loop (comfort your wounded pride by reminding yourself that they're likely professionals). Photos: Victoria Garcia, Mario Lurig
Bluebell Rd., Chautauqua
In addition to hosting the Chautauqua Organization's lectures, films, and musical performances, this little enclave of summer homes (many of which can still be rented) is home-base for some of the best hiking in Boulder. The classic trail here is the Royal Arch, a two-mile out-and-back that climbs several switchbacks to a section of the flatirons that forms a golden, natural arch and offers sweeping views of the plains, with the city of Boulder laid out below you. From this trailhead, you can also link up with the Mesa Trail, a 7-mile stretch that crawls along the base of the mountains and runs the entire length of the city from North to South. Sure, it's a Boulder pilgrimage to complete the entire thing (down-and-back) in one day, but you can also access it in small pieces.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Rd., Boulder
Located on the Southern edge of Boulder along the road you'd take if you were going skiing, Eldorado Canyon is one of the most challenging rock climbing destinations in the world. Within the canyon, you'll find a cozy little town with a few small homes cluttered along the creek and a public swimming pool with a slide, diving board, and a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Non-climbers can get in on the action by walking along the hiking trails at the edge of the canyon, where you can catch people hanging from the rocks high above you—we like the Eldorado Canyon trail for beginners. For a hike with more dramatic views, stop at the Doudy Draw trailhead on the way in and do the Spring Brook Loop, which offers sweeping panoramas of the flatirons and the mesas below them (it's particularly perfect around sunset).