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Heil Ranch

Intermediate
 3.7 (199) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A good intermediate ride relatively close to Boulder, with many options for linking to other trails.


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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.8

KM

95%

Singletrack

6,805' 2,074 m

High

5,904' 1,800 m

Low

992' 302 m

Up

991' 302 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Michael Ahnemann with improvements by Matt Hudson

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 199 votes

#158

Overall
  3.7 from 199 votes
5 Star
21%
4 Star
44%
3 Star
27%
2 Star
8%
1 Star
1%
Recommended Route Rankings

#54

in Colorado

#158

Overall
318 Views Last Month
48,911 Since Nov 28, 2012
Intermediate

1%
1%
73%
9%
16%
1%

Photos

Looking out over Heil Valley.
Jun 17, 2016 near Lyons, CO
Heil has some great flowy berms that you can rail on the way down.
Aug 13, 2016 near Lyons, CO
A sign warning of an aggressive grouse and the aggressive grouse
Apr 18, 2015 near Lyons, CO
Bob and Weave through the numerous rock gardens
Aug 8, 2018 near Lyons, CO
A nice resting spot with a bench and a view.
May 25, 2013 near Lyons, CO
Overlook on Ponderosa Trail is incredible!
Sep 19, 2017 near Lyons, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Bad / Closed 4 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jul 22, 2021
J L
Gates closed — 9h 45m
Apr 9, 2021
Larry Henshaw
Note: this trail and trailhead is currently closed due to fire damage. https://www.bouldercounty.org/open-space/parks-and-trails/trail-closures/
Oct 13, 2020
Jason Hampton
Overland Loop (counter-clockwise) + Geer Canyon connector + Wapiti Trail + Ponderosa Loop (clockwise) + Schoolhouse Loop (counter-clockwise) 11.8mi — 2h 10m
Oct 11, 2020
Maureen Petterson
As much fun as there are rocks! With Brian and Amy.
Oct 10, 2020
Zach Renshaw
Oct 9, 2020
Brandon Agranovich
Not pleasant on a hardtail mtb
Oct 4, 2020
Lauren Buzbee
Rockiest trail ever. — 1h 40m
Oct 3, 2020
Zenia Christina
SO many rocks!!! But a kick ass ride. For sure technical up and down. Big cardio ride! 8.1mi — 2h 21m