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Best Mountain Biking Trails Near Boulder, Colorado

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Boulder, CO is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, especially mountain bikers. With accessible canyons and diverse trails, riders can challenge themselves with thrilling singletrack routes and epic cross country rides. 

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Boulder, Colorado for its variety of recreational activities, including the popular sport of mountain biking. The city boasts an abundance of canyons that are easily accessible by bike and offer a diverse selection of trails. For a more challenging ride, bikers can take a short car ride to access even more thrilling singletrack routes. With rolling hills and exhilarating descents, the trails in Boulder provide endless opportunities for cross country riding. One of the most exciting aspects of mountain biking in this city is the opportunity to explore the vast network of dirt roads and singletrack paths that wind through the foothills – perfect for those seeking a long and intense ride.

Mountain biker on the Doudy Draw Trail near Boulder, Colorado, with the Flatirons in the background. Photo: Jim Glab/Adobe Stock.

Most trails in the front range area near Boulder can be biked year-round, depending on recent weather conditions. However, the trails near Nederland are an exception due to their high altitude and tendency to hold snow during the winter months. Snowfall, clouds, and frigid temperatures will result in muddy trails for an extended period of time. It is advisable to avoid these trails for a few days after heavy snow or rain until they have had time to dry out under warm sunlight. Keep in mind that many hikers also utilize these trails, so please be considerate of other trail users.


Walker Ranch Loop: Intermediate, Difficult | 7.8 Miles | 1,510′ Climb/Descent

Walker Ranch Loop is a popular trail that every mountain biker in Boulder has experienced. For visitors, it’s the perfect ride with enjoyable winding paths and stunning views. The location itself, up Flagstaff road, is worth the trip alone! Although not a long ride, it still offers a good challenge with a mix of fast and flowy trails, rocky sections that require technical skills, and even a steep descent using a hike-a-bike method down to a creek.

Known for its scenic vistas and well-maintained singletrack, Walker Ranch is a must-visit destination for Boulder area mountain bikers. This trail offers a good challenge with rocky sections, some areas that require dismounting, and challenging inclines. The Walker Ranch Loop is commonly ridden in both directions and provides an enjoyable experience no matter which way you go. Typically, the counterclockwise route features more gradual descents and technical climbs, while clockwise offers technical descents but smoother ascents.

Walker Ranch Loop near Boulder, Colorado.

See our detailed trail review for the Walker Ranch Loop.

Directions: Walker Ranch can be found on Flagstaff Road, approximately a 20-minute drive from Downtown Boulder. To get there, go south on 9th Street until you reach Baseline Road, which then becomes Flagstaff Road. This scenic route is worth the drive, especially for the great riding that awaits at the end!

Betasso Preserve: Intermediate, Difficult | 7.1 Miles | 768′ Climb/Descent

Located just outside of Boulder, Betasso Preserve is a popular spot for mountain biking. Many riders choose to pedal straight from town, but there is also parking available for those who prefer to drive. The area offers two one-way trails exclusively for mountain biking: the Canyon Loop and Benjamin Loop. Both feature smooth singletrack with enjoyable climbs and descents. The Benjamin Loop presents more challenges than the Canyon Loop.

The designated direction for biking on this trail may change periodically. Make sure to check the signage at the beginning of the trail and follow it accordingly. It is not uncommon for there to be a significant number of hikers on this trail, so please respect their right of way. The riding direction for bikers will be clearly indicated by a sign at the start of the ride.

To get to the trailhead, drive from Boulder on Boulder Canyon Drive and then turn right onto Sugarloaf Road. Alternatively, if you’re biking from Boulder, take the paved path alongside Boulder Creek until it meets with the Betasso Link Trail, which will lead you to the other Betasso trails.

Marshall Mesa: Beginner, Intermediate| 12+ Miles | 975′ Climb/Descent

Marshall Mesa, located in South Boulder, offers smooth cross country singletrack trails that are perfect for beginners. Although there are a few technical sections, the majority of the trail is easy to ride. The popular Marshall Mesa loop is 12.6 miles long, but there are opportunities to extend the ride or choose a different route. Once you cross over Highway 93, the trails become more enjoyable, particularly with the Spring Brook Loop and Doudy Draw being preferred by many riders. It’s recommended to ride the Springbrook Loop clockwise. Finally, the Community Ditch trail brings you back to the Marshall Mesa Trailhead after Dowdy Draw.

Mountain biker on Marshall Mesa, Boulder County, Colorado. Photo: Jim Glab/Adobe Stock.

To access the Marshall Mesa mountain bike trails, head south on Highway 93 from Boulder. As you continue down Broadway Street, it will eventually merge into Highway 93. The trailhead is located at the intersection of Highway 93 and Marshall Road, about 5 miles outside of town.

Valmont Bike Park: Beginner-Expert | 15 Trails | Slopestyle, Dirt Jump, Dual Slalom, XC

At the heart of Boulder, Colorado lies Valmont Bike Park, a top-notch bike park for the community. With options for all skill levels – from massive jump lines to the exclusive “Tots Track” pumptrack for young riders – there’s something for everyone at this park. Spread out over 42 scenic acres, the Valmont Bike Park offers an impressive array of jumps, freeride trails, and mountain biking options. Nestled in eastern Boulder, this park boasts cross country trails, skill-building areas, and dirt jumps to cater to all levels of riders. For those seeking a bit more adrenaline, the Valmont Bike Park also features slopestyle lines of varying difficulty and two pump tracks to test your skills.

Open every day from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, the park may occasionally close for special events, maintenance, or inclement weather/trail conditions. Closures are posted at the park and on Valmont Bike Park Facebook page.


Located in a canyon close to Boulder, the town of Nederland boasts an impressive array of mountain bike trails. These trails span for miles and twist through the surrounding mountains, offering an exhilarating ride. For those looking to avoid the busy Boulder Canyon Road, there are alternative paths that lead back down to Boulder. The convenient public RTD bus conveniently runs from downtown Boulder to Nederland, providing easy access to these trails for everyone.

West Magnolia: 20+ Trails | 30+ miles | Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Nederland’s West Magnolia, or West Mag, trails are considered some of the top mountain biking trails in the area. The network of singletrack paths can be a bit perplexing to navigate, with some trails abruptly leading to dirt roads or campsites. However, if you’re up for the challenge, there is plenty of enjoyable flow to be discovered. Don’t miss out on the abandoned “Magic School Bus” along the School Bus trails – one of the most entertaining sections of the entire West Magnolia system.

To reach the West Magnolia Mountain Bike Trails, start by heading south on Highway 119, also known as the Peak to Peak Highway, from Nederland. After approximately 2 miles, you will reach the intersection with Magnolia road where there is a designated parking area. If you are starting from the Nederland RTD Park-n-Ride, it will be a 2-mile journey with 427 feet of elevation gain on the paved highway before reaching the trails. If you are coming from Boulder, it should take around 30 minutes to drive to the West Magnolia trails.

Caribou Flats: Intermediate | 5.3 Miles | 1,572′ Descent

The Caribou Flats trail connects the abandoned town of Caribou to the quaint town of Eldora. This popular trail, along with the nearby Caribou Road, creates a 13 mile loop from Nederland that includes a 1,700 foot climb. Once an old road, Caribou Flats is now a singletrack trail open only to non-motorized vehicles. The descent offers an exhilarating mix of speed and technical challenges. For even more riding options, riders can continue on the dirt Caribou Road for an additional 6.7 miles to reach the Sourdough Trailhead.

To access Caribou Flats, take Caribou Road from Nederland and drive or ride until you reach the parking area on your left about 5.5 miles in. The trail ends in Eldora, where riders can take the paved Eldora Road back to Nederland.


Located northwest of Boulder, just outside the small town of Lyons, are two popular areas for mountain biking: Heil and Hall Ranches. These spots offer some of the best and longest rides in Boulder.

Heil Valley Ranch: Intermediate | 7.6 Miles | 987′ Climb | 982′ Descent

Heil Valley Ranch is a well-known trail system in the Boulder area, which mainly consists of rocky intermediate singletrack paths. This particular ride is the most frequently used section. It includes the Wapiti Trail and Ponderosa Loop, which were the first designated mountain biking trails at Heil. However, additional trails have been added over time, such as the Picture Rock trail, which now allows riders to travel from Heil Valley Ranch to Hall Ranch.

To reach the primary entrance of Heil Valley Ranch, travel north on Highway 36 out of Boulder and make a left turn onto Lefthand Canyon Drive near the Greenbriar Inn. After that, take a right on Geer Canyon Drive. The trailhead is approximately 2 miles from Highway 36.

Hall Ranch: Difficult | 11.8 Miles | 1750′ Climb | 1750′ Descent

Hall Ranch offers a variety of trails to suit all types of riders. The popular Bitterbrush trail presents a tough challenge with its technical rock garden, only conquerable by skilled experts. For a more scenic ride, the Nelson Loop at the top provides stunning views of the Arapahoe range and Longs Peak along with smooth singletrack. Intermediate riders can opt for the Antelope Trail, which leads to the Nelson trail but avoids the difficult rock garden on Bitterbrush.

The trail is a favorite among hikers within a 40-minute radius of Longmont/Boulder, making it prone to crowds, especially on weekends. You may also encounter many horses, so be prepared to stop frequently on your way down as you give way to uphill riders and other trail users. It can be frustrating to interrupt your enjoyable descent, but please be considerate. This trail is difficult for horses, and they can easily become startled.

Mountain bikers at Boulder County, Colorado’s Hall Ranch Open Space. Photo: Jim Glab/Adobe Stock.

For those wanting to reach the Hall Ranch mountain bike trails from Boulder, begin by heading north on Highway 36 towards Lyons. When the road reaches its end at a “T” intersection, take a left turn to reach the Hall Ranch Trailhead located 2 miles down the road. The Picture Rock Trailhead can also be accessed from this direction. For a simpler route, turn right at the T intersection and continue until you reach Apple Valley Road. At its end, you will find the Antelope Trail trailhead.

Our Favorite Bikes for Boulder

Santa Cruz Bicycles Tallboy C R Mountain Bike
Short-travel 29er with trail-riding prowess and cross-country efficiency
Price: $4,799
Santa Cruz Heckler SL C S E-Mountain Bike 2024
Santa Cruz's Bicycles Heckler SL C S E-Mountain Bike is combines a light and stiff carbon frame, a compact mid-power Fazua 60 drive unit, and tried-and-true components like SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and RockShox Lyrik fork.
Price: $8,699
Santa Cruz Blur 4 C R TR Complete Mountain Bike 2024
Santa Cruz Blur 4 CR TR: versatile, capable bike with great geometry, suspension and mid-20s weight that outperforms overbuilt bikes.
Price: $4,499


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