Heil Valley Ranch Trail

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Heil Valley Ranch

Heil Valley Ranch Trail is a 15.4 kilometer heavily 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: 15.4 km Elevation Gain: 388 m Route Type: Loop


horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips



bird watching





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.

recorded Heil Valley Ranch Trail

29 days ago

mountain biking
30 days ago

Super fun trail. The initial climb is not too difficult and you are rewarded with a fun descent.

2 months ago

what a great trail on a beautiful day. little bit of slush and mud at the top ponderosa loop, but nothing too bad at all. the animals were all out today including a Fox, a giant flock of turkeys and deer. glad I got here and gone before the swarm of bikers. trail was a little crowded when I left.

4 months ago

Beautiful trail with lots of wildlife. Lots of deer, turkeys, birds and adorable Albert's squirrel. Incredible panoramic view at tip of Ponderosa Loop.

6 months ago

6 months ago

great trail. tons of wildlife. cant say how many deer we saw today. a few great views. hike today, but a lot of runnable trail for another day.

10 months ago

Trail is well maintained and I enjoyed the views. There are a lot of mountain bikers but everyone was courteous. Got a good workout.

mountain biking
11 months ago

First time on a trail in almost 15 years! Wapiti Trail, Heil Ranch

horseback riding
Thu May 23 2019

Great for horseback riding, but because it has heavy bike traffic, rider must keep a watch for cyclists speeding by. Must cyclists are courteous and yield to equestrians. Scenic area. Well maintained trail.

Wed Apr 24 2019

Very nice trail, courteous bikers, great things to look at, and great shade.

Sun Jan 06 2019

If you have bad knees, I would advise avoiding this trail. It is extremely rocky after the initial part. The elevation gain is about 1000 feet, and so it was slow going for me. Also, there were a lot of mountain bikers that I had to yield to. But this is a good challenge with the elevation and rockiness. I went about 3 miles in, so all of the Wapiti Trail and the west side of the loop up to the highest point before going back. There is decent shade after the initial rise, but not many good views.

Mon Nov 26 2018

Lyons. Limited big vistas but a nice trail. Mountain bikes.

Sun Oct 28 2018

Went for my second run here on 19 October. Fewer bikes on the trail than my previous trip. Weekday mornings seem to be a perfect time to run this trail. Every biker I have passed on both trips has been considerate and riding responsibly. The views are not intensely panoramic aside from the viewpoint at the far-point on Ponderosa, and a bit of a view of the flatlands beyond the foothills for a section of the Eastern side of Ponderosa Loop, but the meadows and forest sections are so tranquil and relaxing to run through. I passed a group of deer about two miles in that felt inclined to stand 75 feet off the trail and watch me pass. Hopefully running this again this week!

Thu Oct 18 2018

This is a lovely hiking and MTB trail. I had no issues sharing the trail with bikers as they were all very friendly and courteous. The views down the valley are gorgeous, especially in morning light. The Wapiti/Ponderosa/Wild Turkey Trail loop was easy/mod with sure footing and well-kept trails. I came across two handsome 8 point bucks on the north side. Nice views of Meeker and Longs Peak. Plentiful parking and vault toilets at the trail head. A real gem!

Sat Oct 13 2018

No dogs

Sun Sep 02 2018

Loved how many hidden routes there. Loved the technicality and how steep it was. Great find!

Mon Aug 13 2018

It’s a very nice trail !!

Sat Jun 23 2018

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.

Fri Jun 08 2018

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

Thu May 31 2018

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

Tue May 29 2018

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.

Thu Mar 08 2018

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

Thu Feb 15 2018

Nice easy hiking. Pretty views

Tue Dec 12 2017

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”!

Sun Dec 10 2017

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

Sun Sep 24 2017

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

Tue Jul 25 2017

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

Wed Jul 19 2017

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