Local Winter Rides

Ski Touring in Crested ButteWinter is here in Boulder, Colorado and I find myself a bit off my usual schedule—riding after work (darn that daylight savings time) is down, and weekend trailering to local trailheads too. I just pulled my front shoes to give Nico’s feet a break. I think it is important for the hoof to make contact with the earth for a few months, so this is the time I do that too. As my body grows a bit stiffer, I stay on my Pilates schedule to keep my lower back moving, my inner thighs in shape and my body flexible. I also like to experience other fun winter activities like Nordic Skiing, Alpine and snowshoeing in these winter months. The woods are filled with so much magic all season long…I hope to see you out there soon!

Here is a list of some of my favorite local winter rides:

The trailhead is accessible in from the Heatherwood neighborhood off 75th Street in Gunbarrel. Most users of this trail system access the trails from Valmont or Arapahoe, but I love the convenience of the wide street for parking and less bikes from this Northwest access point. The soft footing does not require hoof protection, and the grasslands and undulating terrain allows you to get in a few good gallops and also work your horses hind end climbing up and down the small canyons. There are no bathrooms here, you can find one at the Arapahoe trailhead, and no water sources. Also as a courtesy to the neighbors please pick up your manure at your trailers!

Boulder Valley Ranch:
I board here so these are my home trails. This trail system does have a lot of user groups (so good for desensitizing your horse to bikes, dogs and cross country skiers in the current winter snow),  but the trail system is big enough that you can spread out. The trail system offers equestrian/hiker only trails too. There are water sources and a bathroom at the Longhorn Road access point (beware not enough room to park a horse trailer at this location). The trailhead off Neva Road has plenty of parking, but  the bathroom is near the Beech Pavilion not in the parking lot. Another great parking area is off Highway 36 near the septic tank area. It is an in and out, so head down towards the parking lot that had the tunnel under 36, drive past and park near the cement septic tanks. There is a gate there to access the Hidden Valley area of Boulder Valley Ranch, then you can simply take the left back out to Highway 36.

Marshall Mesa:
Now that the brand new tunnel has been completed there is a lot of terrain to cover here. It is a heavy bike use area but worth riding in the spring, fall and winter. Trailhead parking is available on the Southeast side of Highway 93, Dowdy Draw off Eldorado Road, or Flatirons Vista on the west side of Highway 93. There are bathrooms at all locations except for Dowdy Draw. The area can be rocky so hoof protection might be a good idea on this trail system.

Bear Lake State Park in Morrison:
I like this trail system to work on water crossings—there are a lot of them here. There is a fee of $7 to access this Park but it is a nice riding area just a short distance from Boulder. Parking at the corral area also lets you do some arena work. The trails range from wide open and flat, to beautiful tree lines streams. In winter the North facing hill climb can be icy so beware!

Rabbit Mountain:
You will find this trailhead off Highway 66 in Lyons. There are bathrooms and designated trailer parking sites. A steady climb out of the parking area takes you to more open trails where you can trt out and open up into some nice canters. You also can take side trails and do some loops. These side trails tend to be rocky so hoof protection is recommended.

If you have a secret winter ride you would like to share please e-mail it to me and I will post it so others can enjoy!

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