Along with the holidays come crowds of skiers descending on Summit County to enjoy its one-of-a-kind terrain. Sometimes, it’s daunting to rally the gang and sit through traffic – only to wait in lines at the lifts and bump elbows on the way down each run. If you want to get out and play in the snow while maximizing daylight hours– set your sights on any of the picturesque trails in Boulder’s backyard. You won’t be disappointed.
Just past Ward lies a beautiful network of trail systems for cross-country skiers and snowshoers of all levels. From the parking lot, you can quickly access a wide variety of trails that soon turn into quiet, wooded pathways tucked away from the world. Brainard Lake Road is an easy favorite that takes visitors up to the wind-swept, alpine lake. On the weekends, Colorado Mountain Club opens up their Brainard Cabin and visitors are encouraged to drop in for $1 coffees while they warm up by the fire.
Eldora Mountain Resort
If you’re in the mood for something a little more organized, Eldora Mountain Resort boasts “40 Kilometers of Freedom” in the form of cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails that wind through snow covered trees and alpine meadows. Gear and lessons are available at the Eldora Nordic Center, and guests can enjoy a resort style day without spending the entire morning in the car.
Rock Creek Road
This 4.6 mile out and back trail is great for intermediate cross-country skiers and moderately seasoned snowshoers. Starting at the end of CO 107, this wide road travels through large spruce trees as it gently climbs to around 10,000 feet. While you may see an occasional snow mobile, solitude can definitely be achieved on this lesser known trail.
Built over 100 years ago, this road initially supported a railway that went from Boulder to Winter Park. Now abandoned, the gently winding road is perfect for cross-country skiers or snowshoers. The road climbs a total of 9 miles to the top, but visitors can choose the length of their adventure and still enjoy beautiful scenery and stunning views.
Less than an hour from Boulder, this open space park is ideal for those wanting to test out cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Caribou Ranch sports gentle trails on mostly flat terrain. Delonde trail meets up with Bluebird Loop, meandering past old historic homesteads and mining camps. This quiet park in the shadow of Indian Peaks Mountain Range lets visitors connect with nature and learn about Colorado’s history.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Enjoy less traffic and fewer crowds when visiting RMNP in the winter time. There are a number of moderately rated trails near Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge. To get the full experience of Rocky Mountain National, drive up to Trail Ridge Road, which closes to cars for the winter but remains open for cross country skiers. This trail offers astonishing views of the Rocky Mountains and plenty of snow throughout the winter months. Park just outside of the road closure sign and travel by ski or snowshoe to enjoy the peace and solitude that Rocky Mountain can offer in the quieter winter months.
All of these locations offer quiet, mountain terrain to explore. Regardless of your skill level, both sports can be tailored to your abilities and endurance level. Most importantly, they each encourage an authentic Colorado experience.