Spaces Blog

Dog Friendly Hikes in Boulder County

When you want to switch up your dog walks from the local dog park or neighborhood, take a look at the routes we have gathered below! The second half of this newsletter is dedicated to water-related dog fun for these end of summer, still-toasty days. Don’t forget your leash and bags for poop!

If you are heading out on a hike that is not one of these routes, check trail regulations before you go. Some trails are dog-free or closed seasonally due to sensitive wildlife habitats. If planning to walk off-leash in City of Boulder you are required by law to participate in the Voice and Sight Control program.


City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks has created a useful interactive map showing which trails have dog restrictions in Boulder. Here are a few loops that we recommend!

Shanahan Loop via Lehigh St.

(4 miles, 850 ft gain)

This route is accessed from a neighborhood, so you will likely meet many other four-legged friends here! From Lehigh St. take the Lehigh Connector trail and continue, gradually climbing, to the right onto Shanahan North Fork. This loop continues left onto the Mesa Trail and starts the decline as you take another left onto the Shanahan South Fork trail. This route is open year-round to dogs and the City of Boulder voice-and-site regulations apply.

View the route and download the GPX file here

Dog-Friendly Chautauqua Tour

(2 miles, 740 ft gain)

This popular area is well-visited, but the vast number of trails gives several options for routes to find peace and quiet. We highly recommend checking out several of these trails, but here is a short intermediate hike to start! Begin your ascent from the main Chautauqua Trailhead near the ranger station and take the wide almost paved looking trail called Chautauqua Trail. This route passes many places you can extend your hike. For very fit dogs, try adding on the entire Royal Arch trail! This route is open year-round to dogs and the City of Boulder voice-and-site regulations apply, keep in mind that in the area around the main trailhead, leashes are required.

View the route and download the GPX file here


(3 miles, 1,300ft gain)

This loop is a quintessential Boulder hike with or without dogs. Take your pup along for the adventure to get quick views of Boulder and the foothills! We typically hike this loop clockwise, but why not try both? From Mapleton Ave. take the Mount Sanitas Trail that steadily climbs the ridge. There will be a few false summits, but soon enough you will reach the top! The trail continues past the summit on your left, but this connects to Lion’s Lair which is a no-dogs-allowed trail. After taking in the summit carefully climb down the East Ridge Trail. This will become more gradual soon, so take your time. The rest of the descent has two options: the wide Sanitas Valley Trail or the slightly more rugged (but shaded) Dakota Ridge Trail. This is a busy hike so you will likely see many other pooches! This route is open year-round to dogs and the City of Boulder voice-and-site regulations apply.

View the route and download the GPX file here

Dog Days of Summer

Does your dog like to swim? With City of Boulder’s Dog Dayz on hiatus, we’ve pulled together a few lakes around Boulder that allow dog swimming. Before letting your doggo into the water, check on the status of occasional algae blooms that can be potentially toxic (consider playing in running water like Boulder Creek when that is the case).

Coot Lake

Coot Lake near Gunbarrel has a short ~1 mile trail around the lake for a gentle stroll and you can connect to trails around Boulder Reservoir for a longer walk. The east and south shores are open for Fido to swim and as a City of Boulder park, your dog is allowed off-leash if they are registered for Voice & Sight control.

East Boulder Off-Leash Dog Park

This fenced dog park is an inviting and convenient location to bring your pup for some off-leash socialization. The park is divided into two separate sections offering almost 2 acres of space to burn off some energy. The larger area has access to a small lake for playing in the water, and the neighboring community center has many options for your biped children to unpack energy as well. Win-win!

Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes, as you’ve probably guessed, has two small lakes with walking trails. This area has bountiful wildlife from the water to the sky. This is a popular area for fishing, turtles are fun to watch, and nearby you can often spot a family of great horned owls. The two lakes are separated by a fence, with the west lake allowing off-leash dog play. Dogs are allowed around the east lake but must remain on leash. The trails around each lake are each just under a mile long and for a longer walk, you can explore the Lobo Trail nearby.

Until next time!

Posted By : Allison Benham at