Boulder, CO is blessed to be situated right up against the gorgeous foothills of the Rocky Mountains. With dozens of trails and hundreds of miles of trail running all along the western edge of the city, where the plains meet the hills, there are ample outdoor opportunities.
One of the best places to start a hike here is at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. With an ample parking lot, parking isn’t usually an issue here, unlike around at most of the other trailheads. Of course, expect the trails themselves to be packed nearly all the time.
Having done most of the trails from the gorgeous Chautauqua trailhead, we opted to begin at NCAR this time and chose a ten-mile route leading up to Bear Mountain and back down through Shadow Canyon. Although both the approach and descent at Bear Mountain are both relatively strenuous, you are delighted with great views of the High Rockies to the west and all of Boulder and the plains before you to the east.