If you’re looking to do some great hikes in Boulder, you’ve come to the right place. The Anemone Loop Trail is definitely one of the best! It’s difficult enough to feel like you’ve worked hard but easy enough that nearly anyone can do it! Including kids! There are several Boulder loop trails in the foothills, but the Anemone Loop Trail is easily one of my favorites.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy hike, you can also check out the Red Rocks Spur Loop Trail which is in the same Boulder open space area as the Anemone Loop Trail. Just don’t confuse that with the Trading Post Trail at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
I’ll mention directions at certain points in this post. Keep in mind that in Boulder the mountains are always to the west. Remembering this will help out to situate yourself.
Anemone Loop Trail Reading Time: 17 minutes
Boulder Hiking Trail: Anemone Loop Trail
The Boulder Anemone Trail (uh-nem-uh-nee) recently got a facelift. While the majority of Boulder hiking trails are created by the city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks crews, this one was actually redone with assistance from an outside team. Nearly 400 flagstone pieces were carried in via helicopter to revamp the Anemone Trail; It was reopened to the public in 2021.
Must Hike Score:
I strongly suggest venturing out to the Anemone Trail as it’s one of the best hiking trails in Boulder, in my opinion. It’s not far from downtown, making it very easy to reach by car, bike, or on foot. The majority of the trial is relatively flat but takes you through some pretty incredible landscapes.
Where is the Anemone Loop Trail in Boulder?
The Anemone Trail in Boulder is situated exactly between the People’s Crossing Parking Lot (west end of Pearl St, across from Eben G Fine Park) and the Centennial Trailhead (Mapleton St). You can follow the Red Rocks Trail from either side, leading you to the start of the Anemone approach trail. The approach trail will then lead you to the start of the Anemone Loop Trail.
Anemone Loop Trail Elevation
There is a 630′ elevation gain on the Anemone Loop Trail from parking to peak. The highest point on the Anemone Loop Trail hike is at 6351′ of elevation.
Anemone Loop Trail Trailhead
The Anemone Loop trailhead lies in the center of the Boulder open space between Centennial and People’s Crossing. You need to take a short hike along the Red Rocks Trail, either from the Centennial trailhead or the Red Rocks Spur Loop trailhead to reach the Anemone Trailhead. It’s very easy to find.
Where to Park for the Anemone Loop Trail
You have two options for parking. You can park your car on the south end at the People’s Crossing (west end of Pearl St), or on the north end at the Centennial Trailhead (Mapleton St). You shouldn’t have a problem finding parking if you go early in the morning. However, if you venture out in the afternoon, you may find full lots with no spaces available. In that case, you can park along the residential streets near both lots (Pearl St or Mapleton St). Parking along the residential streets will only add an extra 5-10 minutes to your hike.
Both lots have spaces to park a bicycle.
Take the bus
If you don’t have a car or prefer not to drive, biking or busing is also an option. Boulder has great public transportation available, and there are a number of buses that can drop you off within walking range of the People’s Crossing Park. There are no buses that go to the Centennial trailhead on Mapleton Street.
The penultimate stop on the Dash route before reaching the station is at Canyon Blvd & Broadway. Get off there and head northwest. The easiest way is to just walk to Pearl Street, and then go west until you reach the People’s Crossing parking lot. It’s a 25-minute walk.
There is a Hop stop on the clockwise route right at 9th & Walnut St. From there, walk the two blocks to Pearl and head west until you reach the People’s Crossing parking lot. It’s a 15-minute walk.
Where to Start Hiking the Anemone Loop Trail
Just like with the parking, there are two spots to begin to hike the Anemone Loop Trail. You can start at the Centennial trailhead and follow the Red Rocks Trail south until the Anemone trailhead. It will be obvious as there are helpful trail markers.
You can also start at the People’s Crossing lot. Take the Red Rocks Spur Loop uphill until you reach the fork. The path is clearly marked. Go left at the fork and follow the Red Rocks Trail. After a couple of minutes, you’ll arrive at an opening. On your left, you’ll see the Anemone Trailhead marker.
What it’s Like to Hike the Anemone Loop Trail Boulder
If you start at the People’s Crossing parking lot
When you start at the People’s Crossing lot, you’ll cross a small bridge. Then follow the signs for the Red Rocks Spur Loop. The start of the hike is a little steep but it doesn’t last long. There will be several points where you should turn around and check the views behind you as it is very beautiful with lots of red rocks. In the distance, you’ll see the big red rocks on the peak. Follow the path until you reach a fork. There is a clear trail marker there. Red Rocks Loop to the right, and Red Rocks Trail to the left. Go left.
When you go left, the trail will go around the edge of the hill. After 5-10 minutes, you’ll reach an opening where three paths meet: Red Rocks Trail from the Spur Loop (the one you’re on), the Red Rocks Trail from the Centennial lot, and the Anemone trail. Go left to continue on the Anemone Trail.
The path from the parking lot to the Anemone trailhead is a little steep in parts, with several steps to walk up. You’ll walk through tree coverings at some points but there will also be several wide open spaces.
If you start at the Centennial trailhead parking lot
The Centennial trailhead parking lot has bathrooms so make sure to use them before you start hiking. This is the same trailhead you would park at to climb Mount Sanitas as well.
I personally think the Red Rocks Trail from the Centennial lot to the Anemone trailhead is quite a bit easier than the trail from the Red Rocks Spur Loop. It’s a slow and steady uphill walk with no steps. The trail is made of standard trail pebbles with no big rocks or boulders in the way. There is no tree cover. You’ll walk through wide open space along the trail until you reach the trailhead.
To your left will be the Red Rocks Trail that leads to the Red Rocks Spur Loop. To your right, you’ll find the trail marker for the start of the Anemone Trail.
The Anemone Loop Approach Trail
Regardless of where you start the trail, you’ll find yourself here at the Anemone Loop trailhead. You’ll see the Anemone Loop trail map and the arrows directing you where to go (see photo below). This is the start of the Anemone Loop approach trail.
Follow the approach trail about 0.6 miles until you reach the junction where the loop begins. The trail is cut into the side of the mountain. There is minimal tree cover along this approach trail. As you walk along the side of the mountain, you can look to your left and get a great view of the Red Rocks to your left.
There are a few flagstaff steps that you’ll need to go up, but it’s mainly pretty flat and well-maintained.
The Anemone Loop Trail
After walking 0.6 miles on the approach trail, you’ll reach the loop junction. You can go left or right. If you plan to do the whole loop, it really doesn’t matter which way you go first. If you just want a great view before turning around, go right to see the Reflection Point.
As you make your way around the Anemone Loop Trail, you will pass through several sections of tree-covered paths, as well as wide open spaces. If you go left at the junction, the path will slowly ascend until you reach Anemone Point at the peak. Along the way, you’ll pass several openings with great views of mountains and the town of Boulder in the distance.
Anemone Point is the highest peak along the Anemone Loop. There is a small trail leading up the point just off of the main trail, which will be obvious. It is at the point where the loop begins to turn and head back in the other direction. At the top of Anemone Point, you’ll find several boulders and a few downed logs to take a rest. There is a wooden fence around the point to ensure that you don’t go off the trail. You can see it pictured below. From this point, you can look down and see great views of Boulder below.
Reflection Point is another viewing area along the Anemone Loop Trail. There is a small path leading to Reflection Point just off the main loop trail. As with Anemone Point, there is also a small wooden fence around the perimeter, making the path obvious.
If you go left at the original junction, Reflection Point will be towards the end of the hike. If you go right at the junction, Reflection Point will be off to the right of the trail after just a few minutes. It is worth it to veer slightly off the trail to see the views from this point.
How Long Does it Take to Hike the Anemone Loop Trail in Boulder?
We parked along Mapleton Street near the Centennial Trailhead. The entire hike, from the parking lot and back again took us two hours total. We took the Red Rocks Trail from the Centennial trailhead up to the approach trail, which took about 10 minutes. From the start of the approach trail until the junction with the Anemone loop start was another 15 minutes. From the junction, going left, we reached Anemone Point after another 40 minutes.
All in all, it was just over one hour to reach Anemone Point, and just under one hour to get back down as we continued along the loop. Two hours total from start to finish. Those two hours include us stopping to take a break and enjoy the view at both Anemone Point and Reflection Point. We also took several photos along the way. Without the breaks and distractions, I think we could probably complete the entire hike in under 90 minutes.
What is the Difficulty Level to Hike the Anemone Loop Trail in Boulder?
Many hiking websites will label this hike as moderate to difficult. Personally, I didn’t feel that it was much of a challenge. There were never extreme ascents, or boulders to avoid or scramble over. The majority of the trail was fairly flat with a few flagstone steps. As you can see in the photo below, the trail is well-maintained and has an even distribution of pebbles and dirt.
I saw a few people running quite quickly along this loop. The most difficult thing was the heat.
What to Wear when Hiking the Anemone Loop Trail
The Anemone Loop trail in Boulder is not hugely strenuous, but you should dress accordingly to protect your ankles and knees along the trail, and your face from the sun. Here are a few suggestions:
- Simple athletic shoes/hiking boots
- shorts/pants – I love Kuhl hiking pants
- Athletic top that wicks away sweat
- Light jacket if you go early in the morning or in the evening (I LOVE the Cotopaxi windbreaker)
- Fleece in the winter or early spring.
- Hat- my favorite is from Cotopaxi
What do Bring when Hiking the Anemone Loop Trail
The trail may take you 2-3 hours, so don’t forget these things:
- Water bottle
- Water bottle sleeve to easily carry your bottle without hands
- Sunscreen SPF
- Hip bag (for keys and things)
- SPF Chapstick
- Step counter watch
- Your phone to take photos
Tips for Hiking the Anemone Loop Trail in Boulder
- Go early in the morning as it gets very hot in the afternoon. There is not a lot of tree cover in some parts.
- Park in the People’s Crossing Parking lot (or along Pearl if it’s full).
- Alternatively, park at the Centennial Trailhead lot (or along Mapleton if it’s full).
- Remember to bring water and SPF.
- Many great photo opportunities around.
- Dogs are allowed in the area, but only on a leash.
- Check out both Anemone Point and Reflection Point.
- Stand aside and let other hikers pass if they approach behind you quickly.
- Uphill hikers always have the right-of-way; stand aside for them.
- Take your trash with you.
- Don’t forget to carry out your dog’s poo bags.
- The Red Rocks trail from the Centennial lot to the approach trail is shorter and easier than from the People’s Crossing parking lot.
- There are bathrooms in the Centennial lot.
Looking for a Longer Hike? Anemone Loop Trail Trail Add-ons:
Mount Sanitas Valley
Across the street from the Centennial Trailhead, you can find the start of the Mount Sanitas Trail hike. You can either go up the Mount Sanitas Trail to the left, or through the Sanitas Valley to the East Ridge Trail to the right.
Red Rocks Spur Loop
As you walk along the approach trail to reach the Anemone Loop junction, you can look to your left and see the big red rocks that make the peak of the Red Rocks Spur Loop trail. If you’re looking to add on some more trails to your hike, you can head here either before or after and do this Red Rocks Spur Loop. The full loop takes about 30 minutes.
From the Centennial trailhead parking lot, you can either go straight up the Red Rocks Trail towards the Anemone Loop, or you can turn right almost immediately and follow the path up to the Sunshine Canyon Trail. The trail is 1.08 miles long. Dogs on leashes are allowed. The Sunshine Canyon Trail ends at Mapleton Avenue, but if you cross the road, you can continue on to the Lion’s Lair Trail which will also lead you to the peak of Mount Sanitas.
Where to Stay in Boulder near the Anemone Loop Trail
If you have come to visit Boulder to be close to nature, here are a few suggestions for the area:
Description: This is an historic hotel in downtown Boulder, one of the town’s oldest. It’s located just one block off of Pearl Street. You can easily walk to the Red Rocks Loop trail from here. There is a restaurant and bar on-site, though there are several around in the area as well.
Price: Rooms range in price from $250-$400 in the summer, and around $100 less in the winter.
Foot of the Mountain Motel
Description: This motel is located just next to Eben G Fine Park and about a 5-minute walk from the Red Rocks Spur Loop trailhead. Bike rentals are also available. Breakfast is included. One free parking space is allotted to each room. This place comes highly recommended by friends who have stayed here.
Price: Rooms are around $200 – $300/night in the summer and can go as low as $125/night in the winter.
Boulder Adventure Lodge
Description: This is a self-described “convening point for the outdoor-minded.” This is a hostel and community space that offers private rooms as well as dorm beds, though the hostel room is specifically for out-of-state travelers.
Price: A bed in the hostel dorm room runs about $60/night, while the private rooms can go from anywhere between $200-$300/night.