Living in Boulder, it’s easy to get caught up in the athletic rat race. Our Monday morning chats are filled with tales of weekend peak bagging, 100-mile trail races, Ironman triathlons, and more. Feats that would be considered extreme anywhere else are exceedingly common here in the bubble. And that’s not a terrible thing. Being in the midst of athletic greatness inspires us to take risks, to set goals, and to challenge ourselves.
But as with everything in life, balance is key. And if over-the-top fitness accomplishments are the norm, doesn’t that make something like a simple walk… kind of epic? Think about it. In a town where so many people are focused on going harder, faster, and longer, doing less is practically an act of defiance.
Enter the Flatirons Vista Loop. This little hike is ready to take you to the next level by bringing it down a notch. Located 15 minutes from downtown Boulder and far from the crowds, Flatirons Vista offers 3.3 miles of simple pleasures. With less than 500 feet of elevation gain, you won’t be huffing and puffing. You’ll simply be breathing. Enjoy some solitude, listen to nature’s sweet sounds, and take in the expansive views. In about an hour, your body and mind will be recalibrated and you’ll be ready to return to the rat race (if you wish).
Read on for everything you need to know about this short and sweet hike that will leave you feeling like a Boulder rebel.
Dogs are permitted on Flatirons Vista. They may be on leash or under voice and sight control. Regulations for other trails in this area vary. Please review OSMP’s dog regulations before heading out with your pooch.
Stay alert for bikes and horses on this loop. Flatirons Vista is a multi-use trail.
Head south on Highway 93. Just past the turn for Eldorado Springs, the Flatirons Vista Trailhead will be on your right. There are restrooms but no picnic tables.
Begin hiking west from the trailhead for 0.2 miles to the junction where the north and south trails meet. You’re the renegade, so you decide whether you want to hike this loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. If scenery is what you’re after, go with the latter.
Continue straight on Flatirons Vista North for the counter-clockwise approach. Boulder’s beautiful mountains seem to rise up as you ascend the wide-open meadow and head toward the forest. At 1.1 miles total, you’ll reach the junction with Doudy Draw Trail. To stay on the Flatirons Vista loop, turn left to connect with Flatirons Vista South.
Enjoy the peaceful ponderosa pine forest as the trail heads south and eventually turns east. Mixed flocks of chickadees and nuthatches provide a cheery soundtrack. Migrating bluebirds are often found here in the spring.
At 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the turn off for Prairie Vista Trail. You may take Prairie Vista or stay on Flatirons Vista South – the length is nearly the same. Continue past the pond, exit the loop and head east on the connector, and return to the trailhead.
If you’re looking for extra credit, you may have missed the point. But if you’ve simply got to have more trail time, Flatirons Vista can easily be connected to Doudy Draw and/or the Spring Brook Loop. Both options add length but very little elevation gain. Another option is to head farther east to the other side of Highway 93 and connect with the Greenbelt Plateau. Please consult the map for a variety of additions and variations.
Happy (easy peasy) trails, Boulderites!