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If you are an outdoor enthusiast who loves to hit the trails on a bicycle, odds are that you’ve heard of the cyclist’s heaven that is Boulder, Colorado. There are over 300 Boulder bike paths, so it is easy to see why Boulder is rated as one of the top places to bike in the country.
Known as one of the most bike-friendly destinations in America, Boulder boasts a variety of biking trails and pathways that are perfect for both novice and experienced bikers.
Whether it’s cruising along the flat irons or heading up to the mountain for more challenging terrain, there is something for everybody when it comes to exploring Boulder bike paths.
Why you should check out Boulder bike paths
What separates Boulder from other bike-friendly cities is the stunning views that accompany the trails. Another perk of choosing Boulder is that the majority of the trails can be reached from downtown or a few miles outside of the city.
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The city of Boulder has gone above and beyond to accommodate bikers. Cyclists are well taken care of with added safety laws, endless bicycle amenities, and a well-connected network of multi-use paths.
A few of my friends have even ditched their cars and use cycling as their main form of transportation around the city! It’s a zero-emission and financially sustainable form of transportation around Boulder.
With all of this in mind, let’s dive in and explore what makes this city such an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts.
BEST BOULDER BIKE PATHS: A COMPLETE OVERVIEW
1. Boulder Creek Path
Location: You can enter this path from downtown Boulder or at several points along the path. Although the most common entrance is from Eben G. Fine Park on the western end.
Length: 7.6 miles (point to point)
What it’s like: Boulder Creek Path is a multi-use path that extends from Boulder Canyon on the west to Stazio Ballfields on the east. It runs through downtown Boulder and passes the library, Civic Area Park, and the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.
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The western end to be dirt and gravel conditions turning into a paved bike trail when traveling through downtown and the University of Colorado Boulder.
This is a great option for those looking for a paved bike trail in Boulder. Although it provides scenic views throughout the entire trail, it can get crowded, so arrive early.
2. Betasso Preserve
Location: You can drive to the trailhead or enter via Boulder Canyon (Boulder Creek Path) and take the Betasso Preserve Link Trail (Canyon Link Trail)
Length: 9 miles of trail total, 16.2 miles for Super Betasso
The preserve has two loops: the Canyon Loop and the Benjamin Loop. The Canyon Loop is a relatively easy Boulder bike path and takes roughly 15-20 minutes. The surface is dry, hard-packed dirt.
Beginners may have to dismount at some downhill turns and the stream crossings. The Benjamin Loop features more interesting terrain that cuts through more forests and rocks. This loop adds a 4-mile addition to the original trail.
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Check the signage at the trailhead. This trail is heavily trafficked due to its proximity to downtown Boulder and is monitored to ensure you are going the right way!
If you are looking for a challenge, Super Betasso starts from town and is a long version of both loops. The challenging terrain will be worth it when you see the view of Chautauqua Park.
3. Marshal Mesa
Location: Marsal Mesa Trailhead. Check the trail heads as sometimes bicycles are only allowed on the Marshall Valley Trail, Coal Seam Trail, Cowdrey Draw Trail, Greenbelt Plateau Trail, and Community Ditch Trail.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, go with the Doudy Draw Loops via the Doudy Draw Trailhead.
Length: 2.5-11.4 miles, 1.5-2 hours.
Marshal Mesa boasts some of the most beautiful bike paths in Boulder that are also used for hiking and equestrian use. During the winter season, it can get muddy so it’s a good idea to bring a mountain bike instead of a road bike.
The best time to visit is March through November.
There is not a lot of shade, so bring sunscreen! Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: this site is common for birds of prey, mule deer, and coyote. Bike trails may close due to weather conditions. Check the trail map before starting your adventure.
4. Flatirons Vista
Location: You can start at the end of the Flatirons/Doudy Draw trailhead on Highway 93.
Length: 1.2-2.2 miles (depending if you are on the North or South trail)
Mostly flat and fast, this trail goes through one of the most iconic parts of Boulder: the Flatirons. The flat irons are truly a sight to see and taller than the Empire State Building! Starting on the south end of the Doudy Draw trail, you will ride through ponderosa pine forests.
Views of the ponderosa forests are to the west and the plains are to the east. I would highly recommend going during sunset!
As the trail goes to the east and eventually north, you will come to the eastern end of Flatirons Vista North and get an incredible view above the plains. You have the option to then cross over Highway 93 into the Marshal Mesa trail systems and Greenbelt Plateau.
5. Lee Hill/Lefthand Climb
Location: Go to the Left Hand Trailhead about 1 mile east of Highway 36 on Neva Road
Length: 4.1 miles, but can be longer if you head into Jamestown.
Although the Left Hand Valley Reservoir is on private property, these Boulder bike paths give a beautiful overlook over the reservoir.
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There isn’t much shade on the trail, so don’t forget your sunscreen! It does have some paved parts, making it a good option for those looking to go on a paved biking trail near Boulder.
The trail is also open to horses and hikers. At the end of the trail, you will have access to the Boulder Valley Ranch trailhead, so you may have the option to continue if you are craving more of a challenge!
6. NCAR Climb
Length: 2.5 miles
This nice and easy climb up Table Mesa Road offers beautiful scenery and maybe some speed! This travel travels west along a small mesa, dips to a broad saddle, then goes up to another ridge where you can spot a water tank.
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The end drops into a valley at the end of Mesa Trail. During the trail, you will be treated to views of the Flatirons and surrounding areas.
7. Greenbelt Plateau
Location: Starts at the Greenbelt Plateau trailhead off Highway 93 and Highway 128. You can also connect with the Greenbelt Connector if you want to go into the Marshal Mesa Trail system.
Length: 1.6 miles
The Greenbelt Plateau is a gravel trail open to bikes that travel across a mesa top to open grasslands. The view consists of the open grasslands and foothills.
After 1.3 miles, you can continue on the dirt path to Community Ditch Trail or continue to a service road to Highway 93. This allows you to head back north without riding along a busy motorway.
8. Boulder Valley Ranch
Location: The trailhead for Boulder Valley Ranch Open Space is one mile north and then east of Highway 36. The parking lot is on the south of Longhorn Road.
Length: 4.4 miles
Pick between the Eagle and Sage trails. There is also access to the Left-hand trail, which is a nice option for a paved Boulder bike trail. The trail is compacted with dirt and gravel and provides an intermittently challenging ride.
There is a ton of wildlife! So consider bringing a camera, but watch out for rattlesnakes! Also, it is unique that it has a very rare plant called Bell’s Twinpod. This plant is unique front range Colorado and only grows in shale soils.
Easy bike trails in Boulder, Colorado
1. The paved urban section of Boulder Creek Path
Boulder Creek Path runs through the town of Boulder, is paved, and provides a lot of stopping opportunities. Because of this, the Boulder Creek path is perfect for beginners or families looking to explore Boulder in a unique way!
2. Valmont Bike Park
If you aren’t ready to take on the challenging mountain trails quite yet, Valmont Bike Park might be exactly what you need! Although it isn’t a standard trail, it provides 42 acres of natural surface terrain to play around with your bike. There are some more advanced parts of the course, but overall it is perfect for any age or skill level.
3. Wonderland Lake Park
For an easy ride around the park, you could try the 1.8-mile loop around Wonderland Lake Trail. It is generally considered easy, but you will want to watch out for others using the trail.
The best time to visit is April through October to avoid muddy conditions.
The trail has some wildlife, a great lake view, a mix of softer gravel/dirt surfaces, and a paved bike path. If you are looking for another easy trail, you can also check out the longer Foothills Trail that links to the Wonderland Lake Loop Trail.
4. Harlow Platts Park
This 0.7-mile loop wraps around Viele Lake. This is a great option for beginners who want a paved bike path, not a traditional biking trail and don’t want to spend as much time out in the sun. Once you’re done biking, there is plenty of other activities to be done within the park.
5. Foothills Trail
This wide crushed gravel trail is a 2.5-mile trail that is easy and mellow! It connects to Boulder Valley Ranch and gives the option to go further.
But this is a great option for beginners looking to get off of the paved road and explore north Boulder. Notes that the Foothills trails north of Lee Hill Drive are a little more adventurous than the south. This section has narrower roads, a small climb, and options to have a fast descent.
6. Flatiron Vista
Although there are some loose rocks, the trail is mostly flat and straightforward. This makes it a good option for beginners, but make sure to stick to the easy trails.
Stick to the Flatirons Vista South. Boulder has a vast network of trails and if you get off course and end up somewhere beyond your skill level.
BOULDER BIKE RENTALS
1. Boulder B-Cycle
Although it is not a traditional bike store in Boulder, Boulder B Cycle is a non-profit bike share program. Here’s how it works: there are 38 bike stations and about 250 bikes.
This allows bikers to check and return bikes all around Boulder and take short and affordable biking trips. A single ride costs just $5 (for 30 minutes), a monthly pass is $30, and an annual pass is $150.
You can pick up and drop off your bike at any time from 6 am-11 pm daily, 7 days a week. You can spot them by their red appearance.
The only catch is that you have to check it every 30 minutes or you will be charged extra and it doesn’t allow you to get professional advice for bike fittings like the other bike shops in Boulder.
Address: 2454 30th St, Boulder, CO 80301, United States
2. Full Cycle & Colorado Multisport
The full cycle has everything a cyclist could dream of! Since they opened in 1982, they are the oldest bike store in Boulder.
They sell cyclocross bikes, kids’ bikes, fat-tired bikes, and several variations of mountain bikes too! For bike rentals, prices run from $25-95 a day. Helmets and pedals are included and 2 days of your rental fees can go towards buying a new bike!
They also have a section called Colorado Multisport which is geared towards athletes looking to rent more specialized bikes, such as a triathlon bike. For an added price, you can also upgrade all of your gear so that you get exactly what you need!
The best part?
After you pick out your rental bike, they have several social events and group rides where you can hang out with cyclists such as yourself!
Hours are 10am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm on Sunday, and 12pm-6pm on Monday.
Address: 2355 30th St, Boulder, CO 80301, United States
3. University Bicycles
Pearl Street is a hub for all things Boulder. And on it is the old, tried, and true University Bicycles.
This Boulder bike store’s bikes rent for about $25 a day and the staff is highly knowledgeable about the area.
You can rent a mountain, road, town, and kids’ bike! Like Colorado Multisport, it also offers a demo program so you can test a bike out before you buy.
At their shop on Pearl Street, they also have a bike museum with 50 bikes on display!
Hours are 10 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-7 pm Saturday, and 10 am-5pm Sunday.
Address: 839 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, United States
4. Boulder Cycle Sport
Not only does Boulder Cycle Sport Outlet provide Boulder bike rentals for almost every kind of bike, but it also allows you to select your bike before you arrive.
Rentals include helmets and kits in case you get a flat tire.
This company also provides guided group rides so you can meet the locals and challenge yourself. The most popular group ride is the Flagstaff Friday Group Ride (check schedule regularly since Covid-19 has caused some of these group rides to be canceled).
They have a north and a south location.
Hours are 10am-6pm Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, and are closed on Sundays.
Address: 629 S Broadway suite k, Boulder, CO 80305, United States
5. Trek Bicycle Boulder
If you’re looking for the best Boulder bike rentals, check out Trek Bicycle Boulder. Located at the base of Flagstaff, this shop prides itself on rentals, service, and tune-ups on any brand.
Plus, they are local cycling gurus for Boulder.
They are a part of several local groups and events such as the Old Man Winter Rally, Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, and Ride the Rockies. They offer bikes of all kinds and have a speedy 24-hour turnaround service on all bike brands.
Hours are 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday, and 12pm-5pm Sunday.
Address: 2626 Baseline Rd, Boulder, CO 80305, United States
6. Specialized Experience Boulder
For the more avid cyclist who is looking for a world-class demo experience, Specialized Experience provides bike demos from local retail partners. In addition to bike demos and Boulder bike rentals, they also offer a program called Retül Fit. Using 3D motion capture, the systems measures every degree of movement and distance.
This provides the rider with insight to aches and pains they might be having and gives an accurate fit for cycling equipment and bike position.
Hours are 10am-5pm Monday-Tuesday, 10am-2pm Wednesday, and 10am-5pm Thursday-Sunday.
Address: 5600 Airport Blvd, Boulder, CO 80301, United States
Boulder Mountain Bike Trail Conditions
- The sun can be very strong – Colorado is a very sunny state, with about 300 days of sunshine in a year. During the summer months from about June to September, it can be very hot and dry.
- Wear sunscreen – When cycling during this time, especially on trials with no shade, it is very important to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated! I cannot tell you how many cyclists I treated with heat exhaustion when I worked as a medic at cyclocross events.
- Be aware of afternoon thunderstorms – Another thing to mention is that in the summer months, especially at higher elevations such as Boulder, there are usually afternoon thunderstorms.
- Bike in the morning – These storms can cause muddy trail conditions and pose dangerous situations with lightning. If that is not an option, be sure to be trained on what to do if you are caught in a thunderstorm with nowhere to go!
- September to October is often considered the best time of the year to bike – It is often too early to snow, although Colorado has been known to throw a curveball every once and a while. The temperatures are declining and the crisp Autumn air gives a nice cool breeze take a bike ride.
- September to October is the best time to see fall colors – it’s the time of year when the Aspens start to change! What’s better than riding your bike through a forest of yellows and oranges? If you can’t find the jaw-dropping colored beauty directly in Boulder, I suggest going to the Renolds Ranch Park in Nederland or the Hessie Trailhead in Eldora, CO.
- During the summer and fall months, trails will be busier and more crowded – It is also likely that you won’t have the trails all to yourself. There will be hikers, dogs, and maybe even horses! Boulder is a very popular outdoor destination in Colorado and will therefore be crowded at times during the more desirable weather conditions.
- Although crowds will decrease during the winter and spring months, don’t be surprised if there are still some outdoor folk during crazy conditions. However, you can bet that the winter months will thin out the crowds and tourists.
- The weather in Colorado can go from hot to cold very quickly – This is especially true in the spring months (March-April). Locals have been in shorts one day and there is a blizzard the next. During these months, watch trail conditions for snow and ice. Fat bikes with giant tires can do well in these conditions if you are trained to use them.
Warning: winter conditions can be dangerous so please never do anything you aren’t trained to do or don’t feel comfortable doing!
- Check the trail closures before you head out – Trails have the tendency to close with adverse weather conditions (snow, ice, mud, flooding), and accessing closed trails in Boulder can result in a fine or jail time, and, as mentioned before, they are most likely too dangerous to be ridden on.
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty – When trails are still open but are muddy/icy, the city of Boulder requests that you go right through the mud and not off-trail because it can cause damage to the surrounding plant life and the trails themselves.
BIKE TOURS BOULDER
Are you new to biking or would rather join a group ride and have someone else take care of the logistics? Here are some group ride ideas for biking in Boulder.
1. Best of Boulder E-Bike Tour
This fun Boulder bike tour takes you through historic downtown, Boulder Canyon, Chautauqua Park, and more.
The best part is that you are riding an E-bike, meaning you can go farther distances and see more of Boulder without fatigue! However, you should still know how to comfortably be able to ride a bike as you are going to be riding about 15 miles and have an elevation gain of over 1000 feet.
This makes it perfect for beginners or folks who just want to see Boulder.
Plus, you will have a local guide who can give you information about each location and answer any questions you have. If you aren’t familiar with the E-Bikes, they have a brief training session before you go!
- Professional local guide.
- An electric bike
- A bike helmet
What’s not included:
- Hotel pick-up/drop-off
The e-bikes were easy to figure out, even for beginners, and the path felt safe and had great views. It is a great way to see Boulder!” – Megan.
2. Ride Boulder’s Best Guided E-Bike Tour
This tour offers a fun and easy way to see the city of Boulder with a pedal-assist electronic bike. Participants will experience iconic Boulder sites such as Pearl Street, the Boulder Dashanbe Teahouse, Hotel Bouldererado, the CU Boulder campus (including Folsom Field and The Hill), Wonderland Lake, Boulder Creek, and the Flatirons.
This bike tour is special because it provides a unique and adventurous way to see Boulder and the electric bike makes it easier on the body! It also gives the option for children 12 and under to ride with an adult, so it is ideal for families.
- Use of an electronic bike
- Use of a helmet
- Bottled water
- Option for children
What’s not included:
“Very fun tour! Riding the electric bike was strange at first but easy to get acclimated with. Boulder has beautiful views and the tour guide was great!” – Caroline
3. Original Electric Cruiser Fat Tire Bike Tour – Best of Boulder
This is another great option for an e-bike tour of Boulder! With riding an electronic pedal-assist bike, it lets you work as hard as you want during the uphills!
In this tour, you will cruise along the charming neighborhoods of Boulder, NCAR, UC Boulder, Chautauqua, historic areas of Boulder, and Boulder Creek with a guided professional.
In addition to the e-bike use, this tour also lets you sport those fat tires. This means added stability on rougher terrain during your tour.
If you aren’t accustomed to riding unpredictable Colorado mountain terrain and want everything to be done for you, this would be a great tour for you. This company also goes above and beyond and also offers snacks and water.
- Use of electric bike and helmet.
- Bottled water
What’s not included:
- Rain jacket/coat
- Hotel Drop-off/Pick up (Tour starts and ends at North Boulder Park)
“The absolute best way to experience Boulder! The bikes are easy to use and help on those hills! Our guide, Phillip, was so knowledgeable and fun and made the tour all that much better. I definitely recommend this 100%!!!” – Anne
4. Wall to Wall Boulder eBike Mural Rise
Downtown Boulder has a plethora of murals to enjoy. What better way to enjoy them than on your own electronic bike? In this unique biking tour of Boulder, you will cruise down Pearl Street.
While here, you will learn local trivia from a professional guide about the colorful street art and maybe find some that normal tourists may miss.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of downtown Boulder, you will put the bike’s battery to the test and head to Boulder Creek Path and the open spaces of Wonderland Lake Park.
This tour is unique in the sense that it focuses more on the art of downtown Boulder and then combines it with the surrounding nature!
It is the perfect combination of adventure, nature, and Boulder culture. It also includes the necessities plus water, snacks, and even sunscreen!
- Use of the e-bike.
- Use of bike helmet.
- Bottled water
What’s not included:
- Rain/Weather gear
- Hotel pick-up/drop-off
“Very cool tour! We saw many murals, got to hear about each one’s history, and had enough time to ride around and learn about Boulder. Super day!” – Julie.
5. E-Bike Guided Tour in Boulder, Colorado
Experience Boulder in an active way with your own personal brand new 2022 Rad Rover 6 Plus Ebike! With this small group tour (capped at 9 people), you will get acquainted with your new bike and head out to see the most iconic landmarks of Boulder.
This included Wonderland Lake Park, the University of Colorado Boulder (UC Boulder), Boulder County Farmers Market, the Boulder Dashanbe Teahouse, the Flatirons, and much more.
Unlike other biking tours, this tour offers flexibility with multiple daily start times. The e-bike also allows you to see Boulder without breaking a sweat and offers pedal assistance.
- Use of a brand-new e-bike
- New Helmets
- Bottled water
What’s not included:
“Wonderful weather and a knowledgeable guide made this an enjoyable bike trip! Got to see quite a bit of Boulder.” – Judy.
BOULDER BIKE PATHS: FAQ
Where can I bike in Boulder?
Boulder sports 96 miles of bike lanes, 84 miles of multi-use bike paths, and 50 miles of Neighborhood GreenStreets (areas prioritized for cyclists and pedestrians). There are a multitude of options in the city of Boulder and even more countless options in the surrounding areas of Boulder.
Outside of Boulder, that number increases if you are willing to go to Nederland or Eldora.
If you are looking for quick places to bike, I recommend Boulder Creek Path or any bike trail in Boulder on the OSMP (Open Space and Mountain Parks). On the OSMP you will find the majority of the trailed talked about in this article.
When in doubt, ask a local. Most Coloradans are very nerdy when it comes to their outdoor activities and can point you in the right direction if you still have questions.
Another resource that might be helpful is the city of Boulder’s interactive bike route planning tool
Is Boulder a good biking city?
Boulder is a heaven for cyclists! There are too many options to name for your next cycling adventure and most trails merge into more trails. This means you can extend your bike ride for as long as you are having fun or are up for the challenge.
There are various types of Boulder bike paths available from paved, to compact gravel, to full back mountain. You can choose a trail to test your technical and speed work, or you can cruise around downtown on an e-bike. You can even show off your tricks at the Valmont Bike Park.
This means that no matter your skill level or age, Boulder has a place for you and your bicycle.
Is Boulder Colorado bike friendly?
Boulder, Colorado is one of the friendliest bike cities in the US! With over 300 miles of available bikeways around the city and Boulder Valley, there are plenty of options to satisfy your cycling needs.
The city of Boulder has gone above and beyond to create various amenities that cater to bikers. For example, Boulder has a well-connected network of multi-use and bikeways that include more than 80 underpasses.
This makes it possible to ride without the danger of sharing the road with cars. Boulder City and its residents are bike-obsessed and continue to improve bicycle safety, networks, and communities. They even have bike racks on the front of the majority of buses for public transportation (RTD).
What is the longest paved bike path in Colorado?
The longest paved bike path in Colorado is the Golden Gate Cayon Loop. This loop runs for 52.9 miles and gains an elevation of over 6,000 feet! Even though this is considered a very challenging ride, it is still a popular road biking route.
This route will take you around Golden Gate Park and the White Ranch Open Space Park. Even though this isn’t technically in Boulder, it can be reached by taking a 30-45 minute car ride.
If you decide to brave this path, be prepared for a tough workout but don’t forget your camera/phone. The views from Golden Gate Park are amazing and will make it worth it!
Boulder Bike Paths: The Final Word
Boulder, Colorado is an amazing city for biking enthusiasts of all levels. Even with all the suggestions given here, it does not even touch the surface of all that Boulder has to offer for cyclists.
Biking in Boulder is a real treat for any outdoor mountain lover! Whether you are looking for a leisurely ride or something more challenging, these Boulder biking paths have something for everybody.
So grab your bike and hit the trails – it’s time to experience some of the best Boulder bike paths that this beautiful city has to offer! Happy cycling!
This article was contributed by Alex from Travelers Tail