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Heil Ranch


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

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6,805' 2,074 m


5,904' 1,800 m


992' 302 m


991' 302 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (10°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Features -none-


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.


Shared By:

Michael Ahnemann with improvements by Matt Hudson

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 184 votes


  3.8 from 184 votes
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1,030 Views Last Month
45,308 Since Nov 28, 2012



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
Bob and Weave through the numerous rock gardens
Aug 8, 2018 near Lyons, CO
A sign warning of an aggressive grouse and the aggressive grouse
Apr 18, 2015 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


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 4 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In


Aug 1, 2020
Maribeth Olsen
w soph 8mi
Jul 19, 2020
Maribeth Olsen
first solo ride 8mi
Jun 29, 2020
Dan Ronken
Dina and I completed. Was more technical than I remember
Jun 27, 2020
Maggie Rowbottom
1h 30m
Jun 24, 2020
Clark Smitherman
Jun 20, 2020
Zach Renshaw
8mi — 1h 39m
Jun 17, 2020
Derek Scott
Lots of rocks, but made it exciting! 8.1mi — 1h 43m
Jun 16, 2020
Dakota S
8 miles, 7 falls — 1h 00m