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Heil Valley Ranch Trail

MODERATE 77 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.

9.6 miles
1,272 feet


horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips


trail running


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.

trail running
3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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

trail running
5 months ago

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!

6 months ago

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!

6 months ago

No dogs

7 months ago

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

8 months ago

It’s a very nice trail !!

10 months 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.

10 months ago

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

10 months ago

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

10 months 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.

Thursday, March 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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nice easy hiking. Pretty views

Tuesday, December 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”!

trail running
Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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