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Level: Intermediate
Length: 14 mi (22.5 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Lariat
Elevation: +2,736/940 ft
Total: 420 riders

Mountain Biking Heil Valley Ranch

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#283 of 1,354 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#3,106 in the world

There are currently 13.5 miles of bike-legal trails at Heil Valley ranch, but in order to ride all of them at once you’d have to do at least 23-24 miles of pedaling. The trail system is basically laid out with a figure 8 around the top of the mountain/ridge, and an out-and-back trail running up to it from the north and one from the south. The trailhead location given here, and one of the most popular rides, is to ride from the southern trailhead, up the 2.5-mile trail, around some of the trails on top, and back down. The out-and-back trail coming in from the north is 5.5 miles one-way, so riding from the northern trailhead would make for a longer ride… and riding absolutely everything would make for a grueling experience with tons of climbing.

But all of that climbing is worth it, though! The trails here sport that characteristic Front Range rockiness, with plenty of chunk to pedal through on the climb up and around the upper trails. However, there are a few buff sections of trail thrown in at random, and none of the rocks are seriously big. It is all very easy to pedal through, and by Front Range standards is probably only intermediate in difficulty.

Once at the top, be sure to take in the amazing views of the Front Range! Then get ready to descend. The descent back down is what it’s all about, and despite all of the rocks these trails sport some serious flow! All of the undulations, grade reversals, and swooping turns are just perfect, allowing you to carry some serious speed. But since both of the trails climbing to the top are ridden out-and-back, be sure to watch for oncoming traffic and to always ride in control. This trail is very popular, so keep your eyes peeled and don’t get too crazy… but have fun, because the bomb back down is awesome!

First added by alvin.santoy on Apr 12, 2005. Last updated May 10, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Boulder, go North on Highway 36 to Lefthand Canyon Road, turn left here. Go about .5 mile to Geer Canyon Road, turn right here. Go about 1 mile to parking lot.
System trails (4)
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Heil Valley Ranch Trail map

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Local Info

Trail checkins

trailwerks (on Oct 2, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Dry (on Aug 8, 2019)
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Camping & Lodging

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Heil Valley Ranch videos

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Heil Valley MTB, July 09
Heil Valley Ranch - :Lyons, CO
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Boulder, Colorado

Intermediate | 6 mi
Beginner | 1 mi
Beginner | 3 mi
Beginner | 7 mi

Rider questions

Q: Can this be fixed? picture rock TH https://www.google.com/maps/place/Picture Rock Trailhead/@40.2149379,-105.2791143,15z/data=!4m11!1m8!4m7!1m2!1m1!2sstarting address...!1m3!2m2!1d-105.27411!2d40.21767!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xc294cab9409f0499?hl=en wapiti TH https://www.google.com/maps/place/40°08'58.3"N 105°18'00.9"W/@40.149539,-105.300255,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

Q: The "Map It" button doesn't get you to either TH.

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  • triton189

    Terrific trail system with something for everybody. Long technical climbs, nice down hills and epic views. Facilities are top notch and they even have an easy green trail with skills course built in for beginners.

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  • Erik P
    Reviewing Wapiti Trail:

    Amazing climb and even better descent. Such a great ride. Though it was my first ride at elevation first day in CO, and the 1.5h climb took me almost 3 hours. The trip down was much shorter (~15 mins).

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  • lawmanfl

    Be ready to bust your butt, miles of up hill then 30 minutes rush down hill. Tons of fun, but bring a full camelbac if you go during the Summer. Some great views and a ton of fun.

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  • charriezllaston
    Reviewing Wapiti Trail:

    always a good trail, you need to learn the line to enjoy the downhill
    Uphill is hard if you do not have enough body english to hover over the rocks

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  • stripp6913

    This was a pretty sweet ride. Lots of climbing, but lots of flowing sections as well. Like most of the other reviews say, this is a pretty rocky ride, and although I did conquer it on my hard-tail, my gluteus maximus would have much more preferred a full suspension ride. But regardless, was still the work out and ride I was looking for.

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  • tetontom

    I rode this trail in 2012 and gave it 4 stars. I rode it again yesterday, and I'm going to change my rating to 5 stars. They've done an AMAZING job rebuilding several parts, and it's as fun to ride as any trail at Buffalo Cr. The flagstone "boardwalks", the bermed switchbacks, the retaining walls, really are works of art! Rides like a 17 mile bike park...
    Well worth the drive from Denver.
    If you've never ridden here, or if you haven't recently, put this on your must-ride list.

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  • WolfNSheepsClothing

    Fun trail that has grown and seen some routing changes over the years. It used to be even rockier than it is, which if you've ridden the trail is hard to fathom, since it's still pretty rocky compared to other trails. Nice climb up to the loop at the top, with a great view from the overlook, and a fast, fun descent to the parking lot. Hell Ranch is a great choice for longer rides where you can link it to Hall Ranch via the Picture Rock connecter trail, or even link it to a long ride from Boulder or Longmont via mostly dirt roads.

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  • bigAD

    Quite a strenuous ride for me (fat). But the views are great and the ride down on a fat bike is fun as H - E - double hockey sticks.

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  • Minh Nguyen

    This is a beautiful trail! The first 3 miles is a gradual climb that's not too hard. Then once you reach the top there are 3 loops you can choose from. I rode both outer loops and the scenery were just beautiful. Pictures does this trail no justice. I rode this trail early in the morning and saw about 7 turkeys still out foraging. The trail is well marked and has a sign and map at each intersection so you won't get lost. On this particular weekend there were horses on the trail so be courteous and don't spook them. And don't forget to yield to hikers/runners and since trail runs both ways yield to riders going uphill. I really enjoyed this trail and definitely come back again to ride next time I visit family in Denver.

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  • lawmanfl

    Good trail with great views, but ROCKY as sin!!! Continuous up hill which will smoke you legs for about 5 miles. Did I mention very rocky.....not too many smooth parts and not flowing up to the top. The only good part was the down, hill.......hold on and don't fly off the mountain. It is a screamer downhill.....a ton of fun, but the rocks will test your sanity.

    A good thing to see was trail maintanance was being performed, and they admitted no one has been around to up-keep the trail for a while. He said the recent rains had made it worst.

    Fun trail full 2 hours of cardio. Bring a full-suspension bike. We had hardtails and it drove you to drink!

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  • [email protected]

    My wife and I rode this last year and came back to ride it again. This is just a wonderful trail.

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  • uber_franz

    Super fun! Not too techie or steep. Kept thinking the whole time that the wife would enjoy this trail.

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  • mobenw

    Very fun trail. Can be accessed either off Hwy 7 in Lyons to start with Picture Rock trail (5.2 miles of unremitting uphill but with some nice views) or off Hwy 36 closer to Boulder and heading up Wapiti Trail (2.5 miles of rockier trail but more fun and what I would recommend). Once at the top, there are 3 interconnected loops. At the end of Wapiti, if you head left and go clockwise you'll Ponderosa Loop first. The trail builders have done an EXTRAORDINARY JOB - dips and berms with a few rocks and roots thrown in. After about a mile, there is a beautiful lookout. You can head right onto Wild Turkey (nice but rocky) or continue on Ponderosa. Continuing on, you hit a fantastic, fast section through the trees which eventually dumps you onto the rocky but more fun section of Wild Turkey. You can then do Picture Rock as an out and back or keep stacking loops and take Wapiti back down.

    I really enjoy this trail. It may not be for everyone but, IMHO, the section of Ponderosa is about as much fun as anything Monarch Crest or Trail 401 has to offer (only lacks their breathtaking beauty).

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  • GPzMike

    I'm visiting the area and I'm on a steel hard tail...so I hated this trail the first time out...super rocky and a serious and literal PITA. However, now that I've done it a few times I'm having lots of fun on the trail and it is an excellent challenge to clear everything and brave the knarly bits at speed. This trail brings all my bike handling skills into play from fast and flowy turns just nipping past tree trunks to fairly technical 'pick the right line or yer done for' climbs and descents. I have to be paying attention the whole way or chaos will ensue!

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  • Jared13   ✓ supporter
    Reviewing Picture Rock Trail:

    Overall, this was a pretty fun trail. When we rode it, it was a bit wet (we turned around just past the 3 mile mark). Even with the shortened ride, it was still a good ride. On the way down there is some great flow which later turns into some great chunk.

    It can get a bit crowded on the trail as the day wears on.

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  • jkey6
    Reviewing Wapiti Trail:

    Challenging ascent to the top but I think it is the most enjoyable climb on the front range. Technical enough to make it interesting but not so much that you have to hike-a-bike through anything. The top loop has gotten much more flowy over the past year of trail work. Still plenty of rocks to leave your butt sore but much better than it used to be. The descent down Wapiti is one of my favorites in the area.

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