5 Dog-Friendly Day Trips from Boulder

A girl hugs her dog on the summit. Photo Credit: adventure_photo.

OutThere Colorado often gets the question, “Where can I take my dog?” So we put together five day trips from Boulder that are perfect for you and Fido to enjoy together. The following trails are mostly accessible year-round, though some require either snowshoes or Nordic skis in winter. Do you and your dog have a favorite outdoor destination near Boulder? Let us know!

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1. Indian Peaks Wilderness

This wilderness area is a Front Range gem. It’s only a short drive from the city, but with the wild untamed forests and valleys make it a true Rocky Mountain experience. Its 76,000 acres contain innumerable stunning alpine lakes and jagged peaks, where it’s easy to forget about the bustling cities off in the distance. There are too many trails to mention here, but some great day hikes on the east side include the Arapaho Pass Trail from the Fourth of July Trailhead, Coney Lake from the Coney Flats Trailhead, and Pawnee Pass from the Long Lake Trailhead. Wilderness rules apply, so dogs must be leashed and no bikes or vehicles are permitted. Because of its high elevation, access becomes more difficult around mid-October when the snows arrive.

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2. Brainard Lake Recreation Area

This popular lake is located in a glacial valley on the eastern edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness a few miles west of the town of Ward. Many use it as a launching point into the wilderness, but fine trails can be found around the lake as well. The area has a healthy moose population, so dogs must be leashed. It’s also a popular winter destination for Nordic skiers and snowshoers, though you’ll probably have to park a few miles away at the Brainard Gateway Trailhead. In summer, there is an $11 per-vehicle fee to visit.

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3. Barker Reservoir

Because you can’t spell “Barker” without “bark.” This lake operated by Boulder Water is a short drive up Boulder Canyon just before Nederland. It offers fishing, boating, and a gentle 1.5-mile trail around the lake that can be enjoyed year-round. Feel free to let the dogs off-leash, but keep in mind dogs (and their owners) are prohibited from getting in the water.

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4. Ceran St. Vrain Trail

Head north and west from Boulder through Jamestown to reach this lightly used trail in the foothills. It’s a 3.7-mile round-trip trail that can usually be hiked year-round without snow gear. The trail follows South Saint Vrain Creek through a pretty forest teeming with wildflowers in early summer. It ends at a dirt road. Dogs are allowed to roam off-leash.

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5. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

This park in the foothills northwest of Golden sprawls over 12,000 acres of forest, with two campgrounds, stocked fishing ponds, picnic areas, and the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook from which you can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. There are also 35 miles of trails, all of which can also be used by dogs, though your furry friends must be leashed.

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