Heil Valley Ranch
Heil Valley Ranch

Heil Valley Ranch

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.

Trails
Lichen LoopHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibted Bikes Prohibted Horses Prohibted
1.3 miles – Easy
Overland LoopHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
2.3 miles – Moderate
Bike Direction: Counterclockwise
Picture Rock TrailHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
5.2 miles – Moderate
Ponderosa LoopHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
2.6 miles – Moderate
Schoolhouse LoopHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
0.9 miles – Easy
Bike Direction: Counterclockwise
Wapiti TrailHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
2.5 miles – Moderate
Wild Turkey TrailHiking Allowed Dogs Prohibited Bikes Allowed Horses Allowed
2.9 miles – Moderate

Heil Valley Ranch Trail Profile

Parking

Main Trailhead

  • 56 Parking Spaces
  • 3 Accessible Parking Spaces
  • 4 Horse Trailer/Bus Spaces

Corral Trailhead

  • 19 Parking Spaces
  • 1 Accessible Parking Space
  • Horse trailer parking is still under construction and will open later this summer

Picture Rock Trailhead

  • 25 Parking Spaces
  • 2 Accessible Parking Spaces
  • 3 Horse Trailer/Bus Spaces

Picnic Areas

  • Several picnic tables located near the Main Trailhead.
  • Large 50-person group shelter located near the Main Trailhead.
  • Reserve the shelter

Restrooms

  • Located at the Main Trailhead and the Picture Rock Trailhead (the restroom at the Corral Trailhead is still under construction and will open later this summer).

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 Corral Trailhead opened in May 2019 and provides 20 parking spots, including one ADA spot. A restroom will be added later this summer.
  • The Schoolhouse Loop opened in May 2019. The 0.9-mile trail is multi-use, which means it is open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Bikes must travel counterclockwise on this trail. It provides an easy ride for those learning to mountain bike as well as features for skills practice alongside the loop. Crews are currently adding a fenced-in skill development area as well as an ADA accessible trail connection to Lefthand Canyon Drive and the Altona Schoolhouse.
  • East Side Trail (name TBD) is under construction and will open later this summer. The 1.2-mile trail will connect to the main trailhead and will be open to hikers and equestrians only.
  • Equestrian Parking: The temporary lot on the east side of the road will be developed into horse trailer parking with 4 spots.
  • The Overland Loop opened in 2017 and is a multi-use trail that connects to the main trailhead. One-way bike direction changes each month.

The new trails and trailhead are part of the Heil 2 Small Area Plan that was approved in 2016.

Heil 2 Trails

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.

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
  • 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

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

White Wildflowers

  • 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)

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

Green Wildflowers

  • 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
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Three-leaf sumac
  • Yucca

Trees

  • 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.

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.

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5201 St. Vrain Rd.
Longmont, CO 80503
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Parks are open sunrise to sunset

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