When you think of Boulder, Colorado you think of hiking the Flatirons. These are the sharp rocks sticking out of the foothills overlooking town. The quintessential hike to take in Boulder is at Chautauqua Park – which is not your everyday city park!
Just because it’s a bit crowded doesn’t mean it’s not worth it! Don’t let this scare you off. Parking may be a problem especially on the weekends. If you go in summer, the morning hours are busy because most hikers are trying to beat the heat. We arrived at noon on a Thursday in early April and found spots in the lot right away.
Another mom and I took six kiddos plus a dog for the day. At first, it seems a bit crowded but I found it encouraging! You’ll see tourists, CU students, high school kids running the trails, rock climbers with all their gear (my son swore he saw a contestant from American Ninja Warrior) or even families going on a picnic with toddlers riding in backpacks.
Make sure you pack a lunch and take a break. And whatever you do, DON’T over pack with too many water bottles. My backpack was way too heavy…especially considering it was my first hike of the year. I was huffing and puffing like a chain smoker by the time I was half way up! Lesson: if you’re kids are ‘locals’ they need to learn to carry their own gear/pack.
As you hike up you’ll feel eye-level with the Flatirons! I have two different friends who’ve seen bears hiking here! Since it was early spring and they are just coming out of hibernation I hoped to see one. No luck.
Dogs are welcome on the trails if on leash. That being said, only one of our dogs is well behaved enough to take hiking. The trails can become narrow and sometimes crowded. If your dog loves to bark, is protective of your family or wouldn’t behave when passing groups on a narrow trail it’s best to leave him at home. Our poor Jasper hasn’t been on a hike in two years due to his improper trail etiquette!
Coming down you’ll overlook Boulder and be able to see almost 15 miles. (I know this because I saw where I live coming down…approximately fifteen miles east!) The University of Colorado campus is all the red tiled roofs below. Not a bad place to go to school with the view of the Flatirons out of your dorm window!
Once down by the ranger cottage, take a look back up and be proud you hiked Chautauqua!