Love getting outside with your family? Colorado State Parks offer a lot of options for outdoor recreation all year, but with summer coming up it’s a great to remind ourselves about these amazing resources right in our backyard! Think biking, hiking, fishing, camping, swimming, climbing, stargazing, creative play and so much more!
Summer is coming up! What is your family planning on those long summer days? Maybe you need a break from the routine? Make a picnic. Get your packs. Take a short hike. Take a long hike. Let your kids explore and wonder! You don’t have to make plans for the day when you go to a State Park. Just bring what you need for food, water, sun, etc. and ask a park ranger for some suggestions of where to go and what to do with your kids!
Colorado State Parks around Boulder: My family loves these parks two parks, but there are many, many more throughout Colorado!
Eldorado Canyon State Park:Great hiking, picnicking, climbing and people watching. This is a real gem and super close to Boulder. It is worth a visit! They have a Junior Ranger program – check it out before going to help engage the kids! To get details on the Eldo go here.
Golden Gate State Park: Great hiking, biking, fishing & camping. They even have yurts & cabins they rent out. This park is really close to Boulder [maybe 20 minutes from SoBo]. Learn more about it here.
Where are Colorado State Parks? Here is a map of all the Colorado State Park locations:
Click on the State Park map to find out more about where to go!
The Cost: The cost for a Colorado State Parks annual pass is $70 or a day pass at Colorado State Parks costs $7 to $9/day.
Boulder is a bike town. No doubt. My son is riding with Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures [SMBA] and were we in for a surprise when we showed up. The kids on the team have nicer bikes than my husband and me combined. Really. 10 year olds with really nice full suspension bikes. But that’s okay, they are getting out to ride together and that is what counts [fancy bikes and all!]. Here are some of Boulder’s top bike rides for kids.
Top Bike Rides for Kids
Valmont Bike Park: Ride the fun trails, try some bowls, learn to ride the stairs, take the downhill courses. The best part about this park [other than it is free] is that it has something for everyone!
Marshall Mesa: This is a tame ride on some rolling terrain. There is some uphill and some downhill, but they are easily walkable if necessary. There are many options here. There are also interpretive signs along the way showing how this area was a coal mining site and the fires that burned here in the past. This ride can be good for many ages and abilities.
Boulder Valley Ranch/Boulder Reservoir: This is great for kids because it is relatively flat, gets them close to a working ranch, and does go by a few ponds. It is open and exposed, so in the mid-day this may not be the best option. This has seemingly endless options for extending the ride for older kids.
Harlow Plats Park: This South Boulder gem has a 1 mile look as well as a shorter loop. It also has a wonderful lake, Viele Lake. Then there is a park for after ride play. Great for young kids!
Yesterday we got out for a really fun bike ride with the kids along the South Boulder Creek Trail. I think this one is appropriate for most ages as long as your child is steady on dirt paths. The ride started at Marshal Road right off of Broadway heading South out of Boulder. There is plenty of parking along the road. The South Boulder Trail connects to the Bobolink Trail as it heads under South Boulder Road. Both trails are relatively flat, meandering at times, but generally perfect for most kids.
The ride started with both of my kids begrudgingly getting on bikes. But really as soon as they hit the trail they forgot about their initial feelings and cruised along. We headed out along the wide dirt path and meandered over bridges, under a road, along agricultural land with cattle, along South Boulder Creek and the beautiful trees lining the creek, & checked out some cute prairie dogs [kept our distance]. The kids had a great time! We stopped as often as we wanted along the creek for them to throw rocks, climb trees, or walk along the irrigation pipes. The whole path is a playground.
I will definitely be adding this trail to my Top 5 Bike Rides for Kids in Boulder!
Distance: 2 miles along South Boulder Creek Trail to the connection with Bobolink [out and back]. If you take the trail all the way to Bobolink Trailhead add 1.5 miles from the tunnel under South Boulder Road.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate [only because it is all on dirt trail, so some biking proficiency is helpful]
Valmont Bike Park is amazing! Really, truly, amazing! Right here in Boulder we have a world class bike park that offers terrain for ALL rider levels. I love watching the confluence of hardcore riders and kids on wheel-less bikes all riding near each other. All getting along. I even saw a dad with a child in a pack on his back riding some relatively technical rides. Refreshing!
The Valmont Bike Park is located East of Foothills Parkway on Valmont Road [3160 Valmont Road, Boulder]. There are trails for every level here or if your little one is ready for some play time they can take a break at the kids’ area. There is a climbing structure and spinning seats as well as a solid surface that makes it easier for little ones to bike around. All the trails are marked so you know what you are getting into. XS, S, M, L, XL. I know you get the idea. The kids get it too. They quickly learn what level feels comfortable and they can look for the signs that show them which route to take. What I cannot emphasize enough is that this is a space designed for everyone. Go as a whole family, no matter the range of biking abilities in your group.
The Valmont Bike Park does not offer pads at every turn. Your kids are not roped up. And there are a lot of places to test your boundaries. But this place WILL inspire confidence in your kids. I even went over a wooden bridge I would normally not touch. I have to be honest, I was following my emboldened 8 year old and I just couldn’t not try.
Take some time to interact with this incredible resource in our Boulder community. Bring a picnic and stay for a good long time. I know you will love it. The Valmont Bike Park website. Or visit them on Facebook.
Today was amazing! It reminds me of how much fun the kids have getting out on a bike ride. If they are ready to bring the bike out of the garage and get going I recommend taking them out on Marshall Mesa. This ride is good for the 5 and over set. It can be done with a Tag-along as well. Or just get out for a great hike if your little one is in a jogger or pack.
Marshall Mesa is an easy to moderate bike ride for kids. We just did it with our 7-year-old, Skyler, in September. It can be fun for the whole family. Do it as a loop or an out and back ride. The Mesa is stunning and there are plenty of learning opportunities along the way with a self-guided interpretive signs describing the coal mines the town of Marshall supported. There is an illustrated geologic map available at the Open Space and Mountain Parks site. Check out the elevation map of Marshall Mesa for details of the bike trails and other trails near by.
Upcoming Free Guided Event: Walking through History – Marshall Mesa on Sunday March 11, 9:30am to 1pm. Offered by Open Space and Mountain Parks this educational event for great for the whole family. More hike details.
Location: Just East of the intersection of Marshall Road and Broadway/Hwy 93