Heil Valley Ranch 

Heil Valley Ranch

• All trails and the south trailhead are open
• Geer Canyon Drive is a temporary, narrow road and extra caution is warranted

With beautiful hanging valleys, picturesque vistas, and forest meadows that seem to cling to the sky, Heil Valley Ranch is a playground for wildlife. It only takes one visit to this 5,020-acre property to turn a sedentary person into an outdoor enthusiast.

 Your Visit

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Trails

Trails

Lichen Loop

1.3 miles
Dogs Prohibted Bikes Prohibted Hiking Allowed Horses Prohibted
Easy

Picture Rock Trail

5.2 miles
Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Hiking Allowed Horses Allowed
Moderate

Ponderosa Loop

2.6 miles
Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Hiking Allowed Horses Allowed
Moderate

Wapiti Trail

2.5miles
Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Hiking Allowed Horses Allowed
Moderate

Wild Turkey Trail

3.0 miles
Dogs Prohibted Bikes Allowed Hiking Allowed Horses Allowed
Moderate

Picnic Areas

  • Several picnic tables located near south trailhead
  • Large 50-person group shelter located near south trailhead. Reserve the shelter.

Restrooms

  • Located at both trailheads

Parking

  • South trailhead can accommodate 56 cars and 4 horse trailers
  • North trailhead (Picture Rock Trailhead) can accommodate 27 cars and 3 horse trailers

Keep in Mind

  • Dogs are not allowed due to wildlife concerns
  • Conservation areas are closed to the public to protect critical wildlife habitat
  • Emergency access roads exist on the property; visitors are urged to stay on designated trails since these roads do not always lead to trailheads

 Map & Directions

 Photos

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 Documents

 Plants & Animals

Along Colorado's Front Range the sweeping grasslands of the Great Plains rise to meet the rugged peaks of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Where they meet we find the foothills – a zone of geological and biological transition. Foothills ecosystems are made up of myriad landforms such as cliffs, canyons, hills, and plateaus. Plant communities range from grasslands to shrublands to forests which provide a variety of habitats for a rich diversity of animals.

Mammals

  • Abert’s squirrel
  • Black bear
  • Bobcat
  • Chickaree
  • Coyote
  • Deer mouse
  • Elk
  • Little brown bat
  • Meadow vole
  • Mountain (Nuttall’s) cottontail
  • Mountain lion
  • Mule deer
  • Red fox
  • Rock squirrel

Birds

  • American crow
  • American kestrel
  • American robin
  • Black-billed magpie
  • Broad-tailed hummingbird
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Canyon wren
  • Chipping sparrow
  • Cliff swallow
  • Cordilleran flycatcher
  • Common nighthawk
  • Common raven
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Golden eagle
  • Great horned owl 
  • Hairy woodpecker
  • House wren
  • Lazuli bunting
  • McGillivray’s warbler
  • Mountain bluebird
  • Mountain chickadee
  • Northern flicker
  • Prairie falcon
  • Pygmy nuthatch
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Rufous-sided (spotted) towhee
  • Solitary vireo
  • Scrub Jay
  • Steller's jay
  • Townsend’s solitaire
  • Violet-green swallow
  • Virginia’s warbler
  • Western bluebird
  • Western meadowlark
  • Western wood-pewee
  • Wild turkey
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • Yellow-breasted chat

Amphibians & Reptiles

  • Bullsnake
  • Eastern fence lizard
  • Plains garter snake
  • Prairie rattlesnake
  • Racer
  • Western terrestrial garter snake

Wildflowers

White Wildflowers

  • Daisy fleabane (Erigeron sp)
  • Mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii)
  • Miner's candle (Cryptantha virgate)
  • Mouse ear chickweed (Cerastium sp)
  • Nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
  • Plains larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)
  • Prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos)
  • Pussytoes (Antennaria spp)
  • Stemless evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
  • Wild onion (Allium textile)
  • Yarrow (Achillea lanulosa)

Yellow Wildflowers

  • Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)
  • Cinquefoil (Drymocallis spp)
  • Golden banner (Thermopsis divaricarpa)
  • Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
  • Hairy false golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)
  • Stonecrop (Amerosedum lanceolatum)
  • Sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus sp)

Pink & Red Wildflowers

  • Ball nipple cactus (Coryphantha vivipara)
  • Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
  • Wild geranium (Geranium caespitosum)

Purple & Blue Wildflowers

  • Horsemint (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Blue flax (Adenolinum spp.)
  • Colorado loco (Oxytropis lambertii)
  • Common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
  • Fleabane (Erigeron sp)
  • Gayfeather (Liatris punctuta)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium nutallianum)
  • Low Penstemon (Penstemon virens)
  • One-sided penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus)
  • Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla ludoviciana)

Green Wildflowers

  • Fringed (silver) sage (Artemisia frigida)
  • White (prairie) sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)

Shrubs

  • Common juniper
  • Mountain maple
  • Mountain mahogany
  • Oregon grape
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Three-leaf sumac

Trees

  • Douglas fir
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Rocky Mountain juniper

 History

From Mountainside To University

The Whitestone and Vickery Quarry Complex along the Picture Rock Trail operated from the 1890s to the 1960s. It was one of the more important quarry operations in the Lyons area. Lyons sandstone was mined there and can be seen in buildings on the University of Colorado campus.

Heil As Home

Four prehistoric sites (i.e. Native American sites used prior to contact with Anglo settlers) are on the property at Heil Valley Ranch. The first Anglo populations in the area were most likely beaver trappers exploring nearby rivers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. One of the first Anglo females to reside in Boulder County was Nancy Phinox Geer, who settled here with her husband Solomon Geer in 1888.

Historic Buildings

You may spot a few old stone buildings used by ranch hands, as well as a silo in a meadow up the Picture Rock trail.

Acquisition

The majority of Heil Valley Ranch was purchased in 1993 and 1994 as part of the North Foothills Open Space that includes Hall Ranch and surrounding conservation easement properties.


Contacts

Parks & Open Space
303-678-6200

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Parks are open sunrise to sunset
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