The arrival of autumn in Boulder County brings happiness and bliss to many residents and visitors alike. Besides the cooler weather, increased wildlife sightings and dazzling colors, fall is an exceptional time to get out and explore our open space. With diverse elevations, Boulder County’s Parks and Open Space (BCPOS) offers opportunities for all to catch fall foliage in its peak from the plains to the mountains.
With the onset of crimson and golden leaves trembling in the autumn breeze, exploring alpine terrain will reveal stunning views. Mud Lake and Caribou Ranch are situated at a perfect elevation and are home to large stands of aspen that deliver beautiful colors, usually during the latter part of September and into early October.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
These two alpine parks also provide habitat for our larger deer species, especially moose and elk, which can usually be seen and heard during the fall rut. The rut, or breeding season, for these two species occurs during September and October and makes for increased wildlife presence and activity in the area. During the rut, males (bulls) increase their activity level by setting up territories to attract females (cows) by calling with a low grunting bugle that can be heard far and wide. This fall, visit these two parks for beautiful fall colors, wonderful hiking opportunities, and majestic views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And if you miss out this fall, venture up to Mud Lake in the spring and early summer for stunning wildflowers!
The arrival of fall should also encourage you to explore those hot and sunny parks you avoided during the summer months. Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat not only hosts a diversity of tree species providing brilliant colors, but the ponds nestled into the landscape create a perfect backdrop and bird haven. The wide and flat trails allow you to observe surroundings while walking, which during autumn is an excellent time to see migratory birds using the ponds as a resting spot before embarking on their journeys south. These wetlands support a wide diversity of waterfowl, marsh-nesting species, and shoreline and grassland birds. Remember to bring along your binoculars and sense of adventure as you explore the Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat.
Cooler weather and fewer visitors on open space during the fall create excellent riding opportunities. Two parks that lend themselves to single track riding all year long and are especially beautiful during the fall are Hall Ranch and Walker Ranch.
At the intersect of sweeping grasslands and sandstone buttes you will find great fall riding opportunities along with excellent scenery at Hall Ranch. The exposed rock and landforms provide exciting and challenging riding. Another must for mountain bike enthusiasts looking to ride fun and challenging single track is Walker Ranch. The Walker Loop provides several steep technical sections with some sandy rock, and great climbs and downhills. Make sure to take time to enjoy South Boulder Creek that runs adjacent to the trail in a few sections in the low parts and snowcapped mountain peaks on the horizon, in the high lands.
For those looking for a mellower ride, take a ride on the Longmont-to-Boulder (LOBO) regional trail. The LOBO trail runs through Gunbarrel, Niwot, and open space properties connecting Boulder to Longmont on a 12-mile trail system. With great surfaces to ride and beautiful scenery along the path and out in the distance, the LOBO trail is an excellent fall ride.