• LEIGH MCADAM

Five Great Day Hikes Near Boulder Colorado

Here's an article from Hike Bike Travel about some places in Colorado that you won't want to miss. What's your favorite place to Day Hike? -Victoria

Arapaho Pass and South Arapaho Peak

These two destinations share a common trailhead – the Fourth of July Trailhead, accessed via a rough five miles of dirt road that starts after you get through the small hamlet of Eldora – shortly after the turnoff to the Eldora Ski Resort. The trailhead is hopping busy so get there early to get a parking spot.

I have been told that the trailhead gets its name from the red, white and blue wildflowers that bloom in abundance around July 4th. It’s a magnificent sight and truly one of the best times to hike the trail.

The hike climbs steadily for 1.8 miles until you reach the Fourth of July Mine – and the intersection to the Arapaho Glacier Trail – that takes you towards South Arapaho Peak. The views if you climb South Arapaho Peak (13,400 feet) are nothing short of spectacular. Be warned that thunderstorms are common in summer so you should plan to be descending by noon. The peak does require a bit of route-finding – nothing major – but you should be comfortable picking your way through boulders. There is the option of traversing to North Arapaho Peak as well but that’s not for novices.

For those not inclined to climb a peak, continue on the obvious trail past the Fourth of July Mine to reach Arapaho Pass at an elevation 11,906 feet. Enjoy lunch here before returning or descend 750 feet to reach Caribou Lake. It’s another nine miles through the trees to reach Monarch Lake – but I’ve never done that section of the trail.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area

Blue Lake in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a great destination. The hike is only 5.1 miles return and there’s less than a thousand feet of elevation gain.

It’s less than a mile to hike in to Mitchell Lake. From there cross the Mitchell Lake Inlet and work your way up to Blue Lake. Truly – the wildflowers can be spectacular on this hike. The alpine scene at Blue Lake is also lovely. From the shore of the lake you can see four peaks – Mt Toll, Mount Audubon, Little Pawnee Peak and Paiute Peak.

The Brainard Lake Recreation area can get busy and as this is a popular trail, arrive early. There’s a $10 fee to enter the Brainard Lake area. Access is via Brainard Lake Road off the Peak to Peak Highway.