North Boulder’s network of biking trails are rather tame in the summer but once they hold a little snow, they become ideal for a fat bike tour. Boulder Valley Ranch is a fine starting point, since it offers riders the option of doing a few quick laps around the Sage Trail or linking together farther out trails for a longer day. All the trails are either single or double track and are non-technical, though there is one brief, steep hill that connects the Sage Trail with the upper mesa trails that can be a bit tricky if it’s icy.
What Makes It Great
A single lap around the Sage Trail is 3 miles, so it goes quickly but is very scenic (the entire trail surrounds a working farm). At 1.5 miles, the trail meets the Eagle Trail, which can be ridden over to the Boulder Reservoir which features a 5 mile, rideable loop. From the parking lot, there is also the option of going north on the Left Hand Valley Trail, a 3 mile trail that ends at the parking lot for Left Hand Valley Reservoir. Climbing up the connector trail (technically, the upper Eagle Trail) eventually goes to the Foothills parking area, where a tunnel under Highway 36 connects with trails that go all the way to Wonderland Lake. There’s enough terrain to cover to make a 1 - 2 hour ride in the winter a lot of fun and the scenery is fantastic throughout, especially from the mesa looking south onto the Flatirons. North Boulder has a bucolic feel to it and at times, it’s hard to believe a major city is just over the horizon. Riding out to Boulder Reservoir for a winter picnic is fun, especially on a sunny January day. Parking at Wonderland Lake is also an option -- you can hit up the trails, then come back into town to enjoy a warm meal at one of the local restaurants in north Boulder (we like Proto’s pizza).
Who is Going to Love It
Riders who are looking for a scenic tour without difficult trails will appreciate the mellow terrain. First time fat bikers will have fun getting used to the feel of the bulbous tires by taking a few laps on the Sage Trail. Fitness buffs will have fun making laps and challenging the Eagle Trail’s abrupt hill climb. The Left Hand Valley trail is refreshingly quiet and is a bit of secret for bikers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the intersection of Highway 36 and Broadway in north Boulder, go north 1 mile on 36 and turn right onto Longhorn Road. Follow Longhorn Road 1 mile to the trailhead (the road goes from pavement to dirt halfway through). Park at the Boulder Valley Ranch Trailhead. The parking area is well marked and obvious on the right side of the road.
There are restrooms at the trailhead.
The area is open dawn until 11 pm -- consider a fat bike night ride if you have lights!