Boulder – Overland Loop at Heil Valley Ranch

Hiking the Overland Loop at Heil Valley Ranch

The Overland Loop Trail at Heil Valley Ranch is one of a few easier and shorter trails at the ranch. It is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers alike. It is also open to horseback riding.

The Hike

Although AllTrails marks this loop as 2.7 miles long, it is closer to 2.3 or 2.4 miles, as marked by HikingProject. The trail has a little bit of elevation gain (about 200 ft) and alternately passes through sunny areas and ponderosa pine forest.

Normally hikers go counter-clockwise on this trail, while mountain bikers go clockwise. However, the trail is currently one-way for all visitors, likely because of the pandemic (see picture below).

Starting Out

You can access this trail from the Corral Trailhead or the Main Trailhead of Heil Valley Ranch. I’ve only accessed it from the Corral Trailhead, as there has always been space to park there in the morning during the week when I visited. The Main Trailhead has more parking spaces, though, and may need to be your starting point if you visit on the weekend and the Corral Trailhead is full (it usually is on the weekend).

There are restrooms at both of these trailheads.

From the Corral Trailhead, you can start from the map sign or behind the restrooms.

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

After about 0.2 miles, you reach the junction for the loop. Under normal circumstances, mountain bikers must go clockwise around the loop, while hikers are encouraged to go counter-clockwise. However, at the moment, there is a sign that says all visitors must go clockwise, likely due to the pandemic –

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch sign

The Trail

After turning left onto the trail, the path dips down south before turning back up north in the direction of Heil Valley Ranch’s Main Trailhead.

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

Along the way there are some views of the valley.

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

The trail is more exposed than not, passing through some areas of ponderosa pine forest –

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch Ponderosa Pines

But also passing through several sunny meadows.

Halfway along the loop, at mile 1.2, the loop starts turning back around. At this point you see one of the better views on the trail –

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

It’s a good view, but if you’re looking for even better scenery on an easy trail at Heil Vally Ranch, I would recommend the Lichen Loop or Grindstone Quarry Trail instead.

At mile 1.3 you reach a junction on the trail that leads to the Main Trailhead. Turn right to continue along the Overland Loop Trail.

On the way back, the path back winds around a bit back and forth.

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

As you come to the end of the loop, you are treated with this view –

Overland Loop Trail Heil Valley Ranch

Recommended as an Easy Hike

This 2.3-mile easy hike at Heil Valley Ranch alternately passes through sunny areas and ponderosa pine forest. It is a good option for a quick hike. Since there are mountain bikes on the trail, I wouldn’t categorize it as family-friendly. Even so, I have hiked this loop a few times while I’ve been pregnant and felt that it provides a good amount of exercise for my current condition.

The Overland Loop can be paired with the Schoolhouse Loop for a total of 3.3 miles. Since it connects with the Main Trailhead, it can also be paired in various permutations with the Lichen Loop (1.4 miles long) and Grindstone Quarry Trail (1.4 miles in one direction) if you are looking to add further mileage on your hike.

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