Hiking Hogback Ridge Loop Twice
For the first two months after giving birth via C-section in early February, I did not do much exercise other than some short walks in my neighborhood. At my 8-week postpartum appointment, my doctor gave me the go-ahead to exercise again. Ever since then, my husband and I have been switching off baby duty on the weekends for a few hours – on Saturdays he goes to the climbing gym, and on Sundays I go for a short hike. After a few weeks of doing easier trails such as Joder Ranch and the Rabbit Mountain Loop, I felt ready to start doing some more challenging hikes.
I covered the Hogback Ridge Loop in North Boulder before, but I heard from some of my friends that doing the loop twice is a great way to get in a good workout in a short period of time, so I thought I’d try it out.
At 3.9 miles long with approximately 1,500 ft elevation gain (based on AllTrails and HikingProject data…I used my phone to log this hike and I don’t think it’s elevation tracking is precise), this hike around Hogback Ridge Loop twice really packs a punch.
It’s possible to park at the Foothills Trailhead (as you can see in the map below) or by the side of the road on the corner of 2nd St and Denver St. I usually park by the side of the road.
The trail starts uphill and soon reaches a turn off point. Go straight ahead. If you turn right you’ll find yourself on the Foothills Bench Trail.
After continuing uphill, you’ll reach another junction –
Here you can decide if you want to do the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. I prefer doing the loop clockwise because (1) I like to finish the elevation gain more quickly, (2) the views of the Boulder mountains on the way back are lovely, and (3) I prefer not to have a steep downhill on my way back.
If you go counter-clockwise the hike may be slightly easier going uphill, as you cover the elevation gain over a longer distance.
To go around the loop clockwise, I turned left.
There are two main steep uphill sections. The first is like a staircase made out of lumber and rocks –
Once you start going uphill, if you look back, you are treated to a lovely view of the Boulder mountains –
And the second steep section that connects to the summit is rocky –
Views from the Summit
There is a large ridge area at the summit with rocks that you can sit on to take a break and enjoy the view.
The view looking south toward Boulder –
The view looking north and out to the plains –
The view looking west to the mountains behind Hogback –
Views on the Way Back
After walking along the ridge for a short while, the trail heads back down. On the way back you can see nice views of the Boulder mountains most of the way.
Second Time Around
In order to get more exercise, I went around the loop again. Surprisingly, the second time around uphill seemed smoother and less difficult than the first time. I think it was likely because I was all warmed up already from the first loop.
However, I did stop to rest at the summit for longer than the first time, so maybe that is wishful thinking!
Recommended as a Strenuous Hike
At 3.9 miles with about 1,500 ft elevation gain, the stats for this hike are on par with other Boulder hikes that are often categorized as strenuous such as the Mt. Sanitas, Royal Arch, or the First and Second Flatirons hikes. It is a great option if you want to get in a quick workout with a substantial amount of elevation gain. There also tends to be less people on this trail than at Chautauqua or Mt. Sanitas if you are looking for a bit more solitude.