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blueBlack Hall Ranch

  4.4 ( 228 ) Favorite

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11.8 mile 18.9 kilometer loop
95% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,750' 534 m
Descent: -1,750' -534 m
High: 6,679' 2,036 m
Low: 5,464' 1,665 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by Michael Ahnemann

A favorite for Boulder area riders - scenery, singletrack, technical sections... it's got it all!

Michael Ahnemann

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


Hall Ranch has something for just about everyone. The most commonly ridden trail (Bitterbrush) has a challenging technical Rock Garden that only fit expert riders can clean bottom to top. The Nelson Loop up top has some beautiful views of the Arapahoe range and Longs Peak in addition to beautiful, flowy singletrack. And intermediate riders can find some suitable terrain by starting on the Antelope Trail, that also leads to the Nelson trail, but bypasses the technical rock garden on Bitterbrush.

This trail is one of the most popular trails within 40 minutes of Longmont/Boulder, which means it can get very crowded, especially on weekends. There can also be significant horseback traffic, so be prepared for frequent stops along the descent as you yield to uphill riders, horses, and hikers. It can be frustrating because the descents are so much fun - but be courteous... it's a challenging trail for horses, and they can be easily spooked.

Need to Know

Alternative ride options:

You can also ride a short section of road to link up with Picture Rock trail and Heil Ranch for a big day in the saddle.

Or you might choose to relax after your ride by hanging out in the park by the creek in Lyons and taking a dip to cool off, or by tossing back a pint or two at the popular Oskar Blues brewery in town.


The most common way to ride the trails at Hall is to start from the Bitterbrush trailhead, so that's how we've mapped it for this description. There are two parking lots at this trailhead, and toilets, so most people (including the horseback riders) start here. However, this is also the most difficult way to ride Hall. Intermediate and beginner riders might choose to start from the smaller trailhead to ride up the Antelope Trail.

Starting on Bitterbrush - Lower Section, the singletrack begins right at the end of the upper parking lot. There's a nice sign there to help you get your bearings. Climbing starts almost immediately, but the trail starts off mostly smooth. Before long, you'll start riding up and over some small rocks, and the trail will get rockier as you climb.

About 3/4 of a mile in, the well-known rock garden starts. From here, it's a steep climb with frequent big technical moves over rock formations. You won't need to be a trials rider to clean this section, but you'll need to be a skilled mountain biker with enough fitness to keep your heart from jumping out of your chest.

There's a bench at the top of this section with a nice view - a perfect spot for a quick snack if you need it. Otherwise, continue down a short descent and merge onto the singletrack (Bitterbrush - Upper Section) coming up from the Antelope Trail. Settle in for a mostly grandual and smooth climb for about a mile and a half up to the Nelson Loop.

The Nelson Loop can be ridden either direction, although clockwise seems to be the most common. You'll climb further to the highpoint at about 6700' where there's a hiker's only trail heading back down to the trailhead and another bench to rest on. Here you'll be rewarded with 360 degree views. Notably, you'll see Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak. The rest of the loop from this point is a fantastic descent.

Now it's downhill almost the entire way back down to where you merged onto the Antelope Trail. You can either merge back onto Bitterbrush - Lower Section and re-trace your steps, or add a quick out and back by continuing on the Antelope Trail down to its start and riding back up to the Bitterbrush junction. Antelope is a mostly smooth, intermediate trail - it's a fun detour if you've got the energy.

Once you start heading back down Bitterbrush - Lower Section, you'll bounce your way back down through the Rock Garden, and it's almost all downhill from here back to your car.

History & Background

From multiple points along the Nelson Loop, you'll see small spur trails leading down to the what once was the historic Nelson Ranch. You can ride/walk right down to the remains of a home and a grain silo.

More than 20 different families lived and operated businesses in the area that we now call Hall Ranch. Some prospected, some farmed, and some quarried sandstone. In the mid-1940s, Hallyn and June Hall began ranching on what became known as the Hall Ranch. For more than 50 years, this property was a working foothills ranch. The Hall family expanded their land ownership and grazed livestock throughout the property. They also operated other businesses including logging and rock quarrying.


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May 15, 2019
Sean Tansey
May 11, 2019
Jake Dawson
May 5, 2019
Sean Tansey
Oskar Blues start. 10.6mi
Apr 28, 2019
Charles Swarts
Apr 27, 2019
Brandon J
Apr 27, 2019
Nick Hegyesi
Apr 21, 2019
combined with heil valley ranch
Apr 20, 2019
Austin P
fun flow and techie sections with amazing views on the top loop 10.1mi

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 228 votes


in Hall Ranch


  4.4 from 228 votes
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Derek Russell
Johnstown, CO
Derek Russell   Johnstown, CO
This is a regular trail for me and my riding buddies. Always a good time and probably one of the best and flowiest trails in Northern Colorado. May 10, 2017
I like that Mt-Bikers and hikers are enjoying the trail at Hall Ranch. I knew when we designed it back in 1996, it would be unique for generations. Its one of my favorite properties to this day. Myself, Barry, and Matt designed the trail network at Hall and Heil Ranch back in 1996. It was a great privilege, one that we (I) did not take for granted. We basically were given the responsibility to lay out a 15 mile trail system that, we felt, would need to last for the next 70 to 100 years. We hope that those of you who use it can comprehend that these are some of the last public lands in the region and need to last. Please consider the sustainability of these trails as we did when we laid out these "multiuse" trails for the public. How will they be maintained?, who will be committed to stewardship? how will they be handed down to those who follow our internet posts and physical impacts? your YouTube, Facebook, and other future digital connection sites we can't even comprehend at this time, will set the stage for these public lands. Generations like you will follow. Ultimately, Barry and I planned as much as we could for the future at the time (1995/96) to consider all users and to design a sustainable trail network that would last generations. So, are you riding and caring about the trails for generations? Or are you in it for "the moment".....your moment? if its for "your" moment? Then reconsider our original vision of a "long term trail system" that folks like you and others are committed to help promote and maintain the sustainability for generations to come. Enjoy and Sustain the Trail network for 100 years! Brian Hannegan, (949) 547 8596 Apr 21, 2018
Lived in Lyons when this trail was opened, and eventually could ride it clean, door-to-door, with laps either way at the end loop, on a steel Bridgestone with a 60 mm travel Specialized fork. Upgraded to a Ti softtail w/ 100mm Rockshox, and never again cleaned it on a single ride, largely due to the erosion between rocks which were originally filled in with packed soil. I'm too old to risk breakage, and the garden has lost its attraction. Old school mindset always made me desire to ride up anything I could ride down, impossible nowadays given the drop-offs and downhill-oriented trails. The easier start variant makes the ride far more consistently enjoyable at an intermediate level, and the swooping curves are manageable either direction. Hall's geology has kept it in better shape apart from the rock garden, while Heil has deteriorated worse, as wear and tear has exposed loose cobbles that are just ugly to ride. Sep 1, 2018

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