Located in the foothills near downtown Boulder, the Chautauqua hiking trails offer easy outdoor access for locals and UC Boulder students. Over a dozen trails crisscross their way up and down the foothills, providing plenty of open space to hike, run, and rock climb. Since Chautauqua park is essentially smack dab in the middle of a bustling college town, if you want some solitude you’re going to have to get there early– like everyone else. Just kidding, there’s no such thing as solitude in Chautauqua park. I arrived at sunrise for an early morning hike and the parking lot was 3/4 full. The trails are dispersed enough that you’re not hiking on top of other people, but it was still the most crowded trail I’ve ever been on at 5:30am.
The Chautauqua hiking trails aren’t flat, like Roxborough State Park, so you’ll get a good workout whether you’re taking them at a run like the locals, or walking like us mere mortals. My first introduction to Chautauqua was with the Salomon Run Club, which meets at the trailhead Tuesday evenings. This is a group of crazy people who like to run up mountains for fun. It didn’t work out. On a normal-people-paced hike a few months later, I discovered that crazy locals also love running up mountains before work as well- about 80% of the other people I saw were runners- so try to keep trail-right as you eat their organic, gluten free dust.
99% of my trail write ups are glowing reviews of pristine landscapes, however, there is one HUGE drawback to the Chautauqua park trails: There is an insane amount of litter. I mean, there is trash everywhere. Bottles, cans, food wrappers, underwear, dirty diapers, plastic cutlery, gum, random articles of clothing people have left for weeks, you name it. What are people doing out there?!? (I was trying so hard not to include the disgustingness in photos, but I really should have for the sake of this paragraph.) I’m not sure why people who use these trails have such a difficult time locating trash cans, but the park is filthy, and that is a huge pet peeve of mine (and Mother Nature’s.) For the love of Chautauqua, pack out your trash people.
Chautauqua park doesn’t just offer hiking trails, there are also picnic areas, tennis courts, beautiful flower gardens, and a playground. Bathrooms and bike racks are located at the trailhead, and you can get to the park via public transportation. If you’re using the RTD trip planner, the trailhead address is “22 Chautauqua Park, Boulder, Co, 80302, CO, United States”.
ALLOWED: Dogs on leash. (There are bears in the area, so take this seriously.)
NOT ALLOWED: Drones, smoking, biking, firerarms, camping, fires, glass.
Have you been clicking on the white words? It’s fun.
If I lived in Boulder I would probably hike these trails every day just for ease of access. For an urban trail, you can’t beat the sunrise view from the base of the flatirons. Despite the massive amounts of trash strewn about, you might see me hit up these trails again…
…I’ll be the one walking.
– C. Egli