Doing business in Denver or Boulder automatically makes us want to squeeze in some mountain-related activity, but most of us don't have the extra time to drive three hours to a ski hill or the patience for the rigmarole of renting a road bike. Not to worry: Right outside of these cities is Colorado's Front Range, and its best treasures are its hiking trails, usually traversable nine months out of the year, some even year-round. The scenery is, of course, spectacular, but the ass-kicking workouts are unsurpassed – and all you need are some treaded shoes and a CamelBak. Here are five of the area's best – and not overly populated – trails that you can knock out in a few hours. Launch Gallery >>
Boulder is known for its Flatirons, the sky-carving, purplish rock faces on the south end of town that wow you as you roll up Highway 36 from Denver. Why not hike to the top of one? Don't be scared off by the hordes of people at Chautauqua Park, where this and several other popular trails begin – the crowds will fizzle out the farther up the wide, gravelly Chautauqua Trail you hike. Before long, you'll come to a fork at the Bluebell-Baird junction; keep right and follow the signs for Flatiron #1. Here it gets more dicey, switchbacking tightly over an uneven, rocky path. You'll duck under and around several hanging boulders until you reach what you'll think is the top. But then comes the real bonus, as you swing around to the opposite side of the rock top and scope sensational views of the Continental Divide. Round trip is 2.9 miles. Be careful in the late fall and early spring, because there are many sunless spots where snow and ice can linger.
More Information: For trail details, visit bouldercolorado.gov.
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