Heil Valley Ranch Trail

MODERATE 65 reviews
#1 of 7 trails in

Heil Valley Ranch Trail is a 9.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
9.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,272 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wildlife

no dogs

Enjoy biking, hiking, or horseback riding on the Wapiti and Ponderosa Loop Trails at Heil Ranch northwest of Boulder. Boulder has not been voted America's #1 Outdoor City for nothing. Heil Valley Ranch Open Space is one of the many reasons for Boulder's worldwide reputation. Although the name of this guide is Heil Ranch, the two trails featured here are the Wapiti Trail and the Ponderosa Loop trail. Together, they form what is known as a lasso trail. This trail is an ideal proving grounds for intermediate mountain bikers. You will find plenty of roots, rocks, ruts, corners, and hills to keep the ride exciting. But none of it is too technically or aerobically demanding. After each rigorous climb, there is usually a relatively flatter area. And great pains have been taken to limit the erosion and rutting on the trail so that none of the bumps are too demanding. Equestrians love this trail, too. With plenty of shade, lots of wide spots along the trail, and a courteous community of trail users, hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers coexist quite nicely. And the trail is easy to reach by utilizing the North Foothills Highway (Hwy. 36) north of Boulder; then turn west onto Lefthand Canyon Drive. Shortly after that, keep your eyes peeled for a Heil Valley Ranch sign that indicates a right hand turn. From there a dirt/gravel road leads you to the trailhead where there is ample parking for cars, trucks, and horse trailers.

23 days ago

One of my local favorite hikes. Gradual climb that is a good workout at the same time. Beautiful area. Lots of mountain bikers but they are all very nice.

Shared with nice mountain bikers and no other hikers. Peaceful half day workout!

1 month ago

nice trail rocky in some stretches..good views about 3 miles out

hiking
1 month ago

Did the Wapiti and Ponderosa Loop trails. Conditions good, just a few muddy patches, easily skirted. Encountered maybe six bikers and a similar number of hikers in three hours on the trail. Not much wildlife - birds, four deer, a few chipmunks. Very pleasant hike, and enough of a workout to be satisfying. There are some extended mild inclines that get the heart rate up a bit.

hiking
4 months ago

Easy trail and well maintained... good workout distance wise with inclines not being strenuous compared to other hikes... not too many “ah ha” moments but lots of wildlife... saw deer , turkey, gopher (at least I thought that’s what they were lol)... saw about 10 mountain bikers and only 1 other hiker on a Wednesday afternoon... seemed more of an attraction for mountain bikes than hiking... minimal mud/ice and no need for traction when hiking

hiking
4 months ago

Nice easy hiking. Pretty views

7 months ago

Lichen Loop: Great for my boys 7 and 10 years old. Long enough to tire them out and short enough to not “need a snack”!

trail running
7 months ago

I enjoyed this trail...super fun. The terrain for me was varied. Saw deer and a variety of humans

hiking
9 months ago

fairly easy hike, mostly in the trees. popular trail with the mountain bikers.

hiking
11 months ago

fairly easy hike, mostly in the trees. popular trail with mountain bikers.

11 months ago

hiking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Narrow and rocky once you get into the pines, but not difficult. Worst part was making way for a fair number of bikers. I've also biked this. Wind sucking challenge on the way up but worth the view and the ride down. Does require a modicum of skill.

hiking
Sunday, April 09, 2017

mountain biking
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A pretty good, tucked back far enough from roads and city sounds, quiet hillside kind of trail.. I had to check it out as it is "Heil Ranch" and I am a "Heilman!"
It was a bit rough and rocky, and I have to say I had a headache by the time I got back down. A bit of that could have been helped with a proper mountain bike. Mine has been converted more to a travel/commute bike. Other than that, it was a decent ride with good potential.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Beautiful trail and scenery!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Isolated and shady. Decent overall hike.

mountain biking
Sunday, May 29, 2016

ride was great but to many people had to stop alot to let them through

hiking
Monday, April 11, 2016

Extremely easy trail; meh views. Did it as a shuttle hike with 1 car parked at Picture Rock TH in Lyons and started at Geer Canyon Wapiti trail up to Ponderosa and Wild Turkey to Picture Rock TH. Approx 9.4 miles. Lots of mountain bikers, gets irritating stepping aside for them constantly. Lot of runners as well. Not as picturesque as the Hall Ranch next door.

hiking
Friday, February 12, 2016

Really enjoyed this hike today. I wanted to take the Wapiti Trail to the two loops at the end (Wild Turkey and one other) but they were closed. Still got a good hike in by tacking on the Lichen Loop after the 5 mile (there and back) Wapiti Trail. Beautiful views. The trail is very well maintained, but was muddy and snowy.

hiking
Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saw lots of wildlife on this trail. Mainly deer and coyotes.

trail running
Monday, July 06, 2015

Really great trail to run. A major part was closed due to flooding a couple of weeks ago. Can't wait to go back

hiking
Friday, June 20, 2014

Loved this hike. I took wapiti to the ponderosa loop. Beautiful overlook at the top. Not very many places to stop and sit and not a lot to see until you get to the too but a great hike for exercise. Saw a black squirrel and some sort of lizard but not much else. Weekday wasn't busy at all.

hiking
Thursday, January 02, 2014

Still a nice hike but it is now closed to dogs -- on or off leash. This is a change from when most of the guide books which include this hike were written.

mountain biking
Friday, August 30, 2013

Nice technical climb at the front end with a loop at the top that is being reworked with fun whoop-de-dos and twisty turns. Be sure to stop for a breather and take in the beautiful scenery.

mountain biking
Saturday, October 06, 2012

My favorite way to ride it: Up the Picture Rock trail to the upper part of Ponderosa. Near the lookout jump on the Wild Turkey (my favorite part of Heil) and then down the Picture Rock... SO fun and great mix of baby head rocks and super fast swoopy corners. A nice climb rewarded with technical sections and tons of dirt time!

hiking
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nice cool hike on Wapati Trail last Saturday afternoon with a storm blowing in. They're (Boulder Youth Corps? ) doing a lot of work on this trail with nice results for hiking. (Judging by the mountain bike tracks some of the new efforts are slippery when wet.) I'm grading it down a bit because it is heavily used by mountain bikes and there are no passing lanes built in. We spent a lot of time standing on slopes off trail to let bombers coming down the hill pass.

mountain biking
Saturday, August 07, 2010

My Experience

The Wapiti Trail and Ponderosa loop was one of the Trails I had found in books, and had planned to ride it, however I soon learned from riders on the forums that there were new trails linking to this Trail, and they all suggested the following:
Up Wapiti Trail Left onto Ponderosa Left onto Wild Turkey Left onto Picture Rock, 5.5 miles downhill Turn around at Lyons and head back up Picture Rock 5.5miles Left onto Wild Turkey Left back onto Ponderosa and finally another left back onto Wapiti for the downhill to the trail head.

This Trail is a hell of a sweet trail, that actually looks more difficult to ride than it really is. Although I would rate this trail as being moderate, there are a few technically demanding stretches that are just waiting to tear your bike apart. The nice thing about this trail is that it is 98% singletrack, the trails I took, added up to more than 22 miles of sweet singletrack. Just like the Hall Ranch trail, this beauty offers everything a mountain biker could wish for, but saying that, it does seem to be missing something, what it is I dont know, I just did not get the same buzz as I did from Hall Ranch, But something tells me that this trail gets better the more you ride it.
I am very glad that the local chapter pointed out that there were now two new trails linking the Wapiti Trail, because it is without doubt that it is the Wild Turkey and especially the Picture Rock Trail that makes this loop a real beauty and must ride trail in the Boulder / Lyons area.

Other Info:

Traffic on Trail : 2 mountain bikers, 1 horse rider and 1 large group of hikers
Wild Life : 3 huge wild Turkeys
Scenery : scenic trail, lots of open places with great views
Other : To get the most out of this ride, combine it with Wild Turkey and Picture Rock Trail

My Trail Rating : 8.5 / 10

mountain biking
23 days ago

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