Heil Ranch

Consensus:    (details)
  3.5 from 53 votes
blue  Intermediate from 13 votes
Rank: #2 in the Heil Valley Ranch area
#78 in CO, #416 Overall
Views: 11,722. Last 30 days: 645
Condition Details | Update
Jul 3 Green - Dry
Featured Ride in the area near Lyons,
“A good intermediate ride relatively close to Boulder, with many options for linking to other trails.”
Michael Ahnemann on Nov 28, 2012
Getting There     GPX File     Print
7.912.7 milesKilometers 993’303 m Ascent 6,792’2,070 m High 5% Avg Grade (3°)
95% Singletrack -992’-302 m Descent 5,897’1,797 m Low 16% Max Grade (9°)
1:30 average time for 9.6 miles. Details

Heil Valley Ranch is one of the popular Boulder-area trail systems, and this ride is the most commonly ridden section of trail, covering the Wapiti Trail and Ponderosa Loop.

These trails were the original mountain biking trails at Heil, but others have since been added, including the Picture Rock trail that now makes it possible to ride from Heil Valley Ranch to Hall Ranch.

It's not the best ride in the area, but it's a solid trail with a moderate climb, mostly straightforward intermediate terrain, and a few additional obstacles, plus a fast descent back to the trailhead to keep advanced riders entertained.
This trail climbs, mostly gradually, right from the trailhead. You'll start out on a rough dirt road, but don't worry - the singletrack starts just up ahead.

Once you hit the singletrack, it's a steady climb for about 2.5 miles, all the way up to the junction with the Ponderosa Loop. The trail mostly runs through a heavily forested area, so there's plenty of shade. You're likely to see deer or other wildlife along the trail - maybe even a black bear.

The area is extremely rocky, but the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance and others have done much work to clean up the trail, make it flow better, smooth out the rocks, and keep it sustainable.

Eventually, you'll hit the junction with the Ponderosa Loop, marked with a wooden signpost. Here, you can continue straight to ride the loop counter-clockwise, or make a left. It doesn't matter which direction you choose - either way, you'll find yourself rolling trail, with many rocks, some loose, along the way. The trail is still intermediate here, but pay attention - the loose rocks can throw you off your line.

Halfway around the loop you'll find a scenic overlook with a park bench - perfect for a breather and a snack. The overlook provides a far away view of Hall Ranch below - which you can ride to by joining up with the Picture Rock trail.

Also along the Ponderosa loop are turnoffs for the Wild Turkey trail, which then leads to the Picture Rock trail, which can be ridden to Lyons and Hall Ranch.

Once you complete your loop up top, you'll head down the way you came. It can be a fast descent if you let go of your brakes, and trail improvements over the past couple of years have made this a nice flowy descent. It's still rocky though, and you might feel like you should check all the fasteners on your bike when you reach the bottom!

Watch out for riders and hikers coming uphill. This is a popular trail, and you'll likely have to stop to yield at least a few times on the way down.
History & Background
The 5200 acre open space making up Heil Ranch trails and the newer Picture Rock trail are part of a large land purchase made by Boulder County Parks and Open Space in 1993 and 1994. The area housed large quarry operations from the 1890's to the 1960's.
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PHOTOS of Heil Ranch
  4.5 from 8 votes
Heil has some great flowy berms that you can rail on the way down. (Lyons, CO)
  4.0 from 4 votes
The first section of Heil singletrack is a smooth climb, with great scen... (Lyons, CO)
  3.8 from 4 votes
A sign warning of an aggressive grouse and the aggressive grouse (Lyons, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Looking out over Heil Valley. (Lyons, CO)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Wapiti is one of my favorite rides when there's snow on the ground. It t... (Lyons, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
Great view and rest stop (Lyons, CO)
  3.3 from 3 votes
A nice resting spot with a bench and a view. (Lyons, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
A rare opening on an otherwise mostly-forest trail. (Lyons, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
It's a quick blast down Heil to finish out your ride. (Lyons, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
More smooth flow at Heil towards the start/end of the ride. (Lyons, CO)
  3.0 from 3 votes
The group at the top of Heil Ranch Trail (Lyons, CO)
  3.0 from 2 votes
Cruising up Heil Ranch (Lyons, CO)
  2.5 from 2 votes
You interrupted my flow, man! I don't see turkeys on any of those yield... (Lyons, CO)
  2.5 from 2 votes
A mellow and smooth section heading up the Wapiti Trail at Heil Ranch. ... (Lyons, CO)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Climbing up the dirt road to start the Heil ranch ride. (Lyons, CO)