With beautiful valleys, picturesque vistas, and forest meadows that seem to cling to the sky, Heil Valley Ranch offers a day’s adventure in the foothills.
Heil Valley Ranch
- Main Trailhead can accommodate 56 cars and 4 horse trailers.
- Picture Rock Trailhead can accommodate 27 cars and 3 horse trailers.
- Several picnic tables located near the main trailhead.
- Large 50-person group shelter located near the main trailhead.
- Reserve the shelter
A prescribed fire window is set at Heil Valley Ranch from Oct. 1 to Nov. 19 and the shelter cannot be reserved during that time. The shelter is available first come, first served during that time.
- Located at both trailheads.
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.
Documents, Field Guides & Plans
New Trails & Trailhead
The Overland Loop and a new temporary parking lot opened on August 9, 2017. A permanent trailhead and two additional trails (the Schoolhouse Loop and east side trail) are currently being constructed. The permanent trailhead and Schoolhouse Loop could open as early as late 2018. The east side trail will open later in 2019. The new trails and trailhead are part of the Heil 2 Small Area Plan that was approved in 2016.
The 6,231 acres of Heil Valley Ranch are home to over 50 species of mammals representing 70 percent of all the mammals found in Boulder County. Nearly 100 types of birds call this area home. Golden eagles and prairie falcons nest in the cliffs and canyons. The variety of wildlife found here is partly due to the diversity of vegetation. Much of the land is covered by ponderosa pine forest. Among the ponderosa pines, a variety of shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers thrive providing coverage for small mammals and food for deer.
- Abert’s squirrel
- Black bear
- Deer mouse
- Little brown bat
- Meadow vole
- Mountain (Nuttall’s) cottontail
- Mountain lion
- Mule deer
- Red fox
- Rock squirrel
- 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
- Dusty grouse
- 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
- Eastern fence lizard
- Plains garter snake
- Prairie rattlesnake
- Western terrestrial garter snake
- Daisy fleabane (Erigeron sp)
- Easter daisy (Townsendia grandiflora)
- 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)
- 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 cactus (Coryphantha vivipara)
- Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
- Wild geranium (Geranium caespitosum)
- Fringed (silver) sage (Artemisia frigida)
- White (prairie) sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)
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)
- Silver lupine (Lupinus argenteus)
Shrubs & Cactus
- Common juniper
- Mountain maple
- Mountain mahogany
- Oregon grape
- Prickle-pear cactus
- Three-leaf sumac
- Douglas fir
- Ponderosa pine
- Rocky Mountain juniper
At Heil Valley Ranch you see the dramatic landscape where the Great Plains meet the Southern Rocky Mountains. The eastern-most ridge (hogback) at Heil Valley Ranch is capped by a rock layer called the Dakota Formation. On the west side of this property is another series of ridges that look red; this is the Lyons sandstone. This fine-grained sandstone, named after the town of Lyons, has been quarried locally and used for building throughout Boulder County.
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.
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.
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.