Nicki sits on the top of a massive red rock. Her back is to the camera, but her head is turned back to the camera, smiling. In the background you can see green trees and grass and the Flatirons.

Red Rocks Spur Loop: Easy Hike in Boulder Colorado

The Red Rocks Spur Loop is a hiking trail in Boulder, CO that offers great views, and beautiful nature, without having to breathe too heavily. It’s a quick loop that should take only 30 minutes to complete. It’s also a great trail for kids, as it is one of the easier hiking trails in Boulder.

I was recently walking along Pearl Street and randomly a man from out of town stopped me to ask where he could find a quick and easy hike in Boulder. He said he had heard of some hiking trails near Pearl Street. I happily pointed my finger west and told him to go just a few more blocks until the street dead-ended. The Red Rocks Spur Loop was exactly what he was looking for: close, quick, and fairly easy. I was happy to help him out.

Click here to see my Red Rocks Spur Loop reel on Instagram.

Red Rocks Spur Loop Reading Time: 13 minutes

The Red Rocks Spur Loop (also called the Red Rocks Loop) is one of the easier hikes in Boulder, Colorado. This trail is not to be confused with the Red Rocks Trail near the amphitheater in Morrison, CO. If you’re looking for a great hiking trail near the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, I suggest doing the Trading Post Trail.

The Red Rocks Spur Loop Boulder is a short 0.6-mile loop around some red rock formations up top. It’s fairly easy but offers some great views of Boulder, and Mount Sanitas. Dogs on a leash are welcome to this trail.

Red Rocks Loop Trail: you can see the red rocks in the distance and tall weeds in the foreground.
Red Rocks in the distance


If you’re looking for hiking trails in Boulder, CO but only have a short time, maybe give this one a miss. While beautiful, it’s also relatively easy and not that challenging. I wouldn’t list it in my top 3 best hikes in Boulder, Colorado. However, it is perfect if you’re looking for a more simple walk, rather than a strenuous hike. It’s also a great Boulder hiking trail to do with kids.

The Red Rocks Spur Loop in Boulder is located south of Mount Sanitas and north of Chautauqua Park. It can easily be reached from downtown Boulder. It’s a 15-minute walk (or a 3-minute drive) from the west end of the Pearl Street walking mall.

While the Red Rocks Spur Loop is quite easy, there is an elevation gain of about 206 feet. The highest point along the hike is 5716 feet.

In the center of the image is a tall and thin red rock in the foreground. In the background you can see green hills and trees in the distance where the flatirons are.
Red Rocks on the way up.

The Red Rocks Spur Loop Trailhead is very easy to find and easy to get started hiking without a lot of fuss. If you don’t have a car, you can simply walk west along Pearl Street about 15 minutes from the west end of the walking mall. You’ll find the People’s Crossing Trailhead on your right side.

If you’re planning to drive to the Red Rocks Spur Loop Trailhead, you can head to the People’s Crossing Trailhead. You can find this parking lot where Pearl Street dead ends to the west, on your right side. You can also go west along Canyon Blvd towards Eben G Fine Park. Then turn right on Pearl Street, and the People’s Crossing Trailhead parking lot will be immediately to your left. You can see what the entrance to the People’s Crossing Trailhead looks like in the photo below.

There are about 25 parking spots available here in this parking lot. If for some reason the parking lot is full, you should be able to park along Pearl Street and walk up.

Red Rocks Loop: This is a sign in front of the parking lot entrance that reads "The People's Crossing Trailhead"
The People’s Crossing Trailhead

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.

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.

Boulder has a ton of bike lanes and very often it is faster and easier to bike places rather than drive. Follow the Boulder Creek Path west along Canyon Blvd. After passing through Eben G Fine Park, you can go underneath Canyon Blvd and you’ll reach the Red Rocks Loop trailhead. There are several parking spots for bikes near the entrance to the People’s Crossing Parking lot.

After you park your car in the People’s Crossing parking lot, you’ll find an opening in the trees, right in the middle of the lot. Go through the opening, and cross a small bridge. You’ll then find the map that you can see below. There is a trail that runs parallel to the parking lot; you can go right towards downtown, or left to Eben G Fine Park. Go straight to begin the Red Rocks Spur Loop trail. It will be obvious. The trail is very well marked.

Red Rocks Loop: This shows a trail map with all the possible trail connections.
The map near the parking lot of the Red Rocks Loop Trail

Overall, I would say that hiking the Red Rocks Spur Loop in Boulder is quite easy. There are a few inclines, and rock steps you’ll need to go over, but all in all one of the easier hikes in Boulder, Colorado.

You can check out my Red Rocks Loop reel on Instagram here to get a sneak peek.

This hiking trail in Boulder starts out a little steep and you’ll need to go up a few steps. Once you reach the first clearing, make sure you turn around to catch some incredible views. There are beautiful look-outs all along the trail if you go just slightly off the main path.

Keep heading up the trail. Eventually, you will see a large formation up above you with several red rock clusters (like in the photo below). As you near those red rocks, you’ll run into a fork in the road. Going left will take you on the much longer Red Rocks trail. Going right will continue to lead you around the loop. Once you reach the peak, you can look out to your left to see Mount Sanitas in the distance (as well as the Centennial trail). To your right, you’ll see the giant red rocks.

You can continue on the path to finish the loop and head back down the hill. Or, you can stop for several minutes to play and scramble on the rocks. I suggest the latter. It’s great fun to climb up on these massive stones and be able to look down to see the incredible views over Boulder.

You can see the peak of the mountain path with red rock formations sticking out on the top of the hill.
The red rock formations on the top of the hill

The Red Rocks Loop is one of the shorter and quicker hiking trails in Boulder Colorado. If you hike the loop around without stopping, it should take about 25 minutes. However, if you want to stop and take in the views, snap some photos, and climb on the rocks (which I suggest), then add on another 30-45 minutes.

The photo below is when you reach the first clearing after the initial ascent through the trees. If you take the trail just off to the left, you can stand on this lookout point by the red rocks, and take in the fantastic view. Chautauqua Park is just behind that hill you see in the distance.

An early view on the Red Rocks Loop Trail: Red rocks jut out and green trees and grass spread out below into the distance.
Early on in the hike

If you’re of a moderate fitness level, this Boulder hiking trail should be quite easy for you. If you’re a beginner hiker, you may feel challenged with the initial ascent. Beyond that, it’s just a slow and steady incline until you reach the peak. Hiking is for everybody and every body, so go at the speed you feel is right for you.

The biggest challenge, as I mentioned, is the start. It’s about 5-10 minutes of steep hiking along a semi-tree-covered path. You should keep your eyes on the ground and watch for stones and rocks you’ll need to step over.

If you decide to climb the red rocks at the top of the peak, there are several paths up and around. You will need to use both hands to pull yourself up at certain points. Take the path that feels most comfortable to you, and remember to always check in with your intuition. While the views are incredible from up there, only get as close to the edge of the rocks as you feel comfortable. A fall could be very damaging.

The photo below shows the steep initial ascent along the trail.

Red Rocks Loop Boulder: You can see a red rock path going uphill. There are trees on the right side with shade extending to the left.
The start of the path to the Red Rocks Loop Trail Boulder

The Red Rocks hiking trail in Boulder is fairly easy, but steep in parts, and you should dress accordingly to protect your ankles and knees. Here are a few suggestions:

Nicki sits on the top of a massive red rock. Her back is to the camera, but her head is turned back to the camera, smiling. In the background you can see green trees and grass and the Flatirons.

Check out my blog post about the best hiking gear for beginners.

Even though the trail is quite easy and short, you still need to be prepared, so don’t forget these things:

  • Go early in the morning as it gets very hot in the afternoon. There is not a lot of tree cover.
  • Park in the People’s Crossing Parking lot (or along Pearl if it’s full)
  • Remember to bring water and SPF
  • Many great photo opportunities around
  • Bring bandaids for minor cuts and scrapes if you plan to play on the rocks.

Once you reach the peak of the Red Rocks Spur Loop, you can look to your left and see Mount Sanitas in the distance. Just after passing the red rocks up top, you’ll see a trail marker on the left-hand side showing you where to turn to get onto the Centennial Trail. The Centennial trail is the Boulder hiking trail that connects the Red Rocks Loop to Mount Sanitas. The Centennial Trail ends at the Centennial parking lot (on Mapleton). But you can also go west from the parking lot, and continue on the Sunshine Canyon trail if you’re looking to extend the hike even further.

This is an image that is very green. In the foreground are green bushes. In the background distance, you can see Mount Sanitas.
You can see Mount Sanitas in the distance

Once you reach the fork in the road, you can go right to continue the Red Rocks Loop, or you can go left to take the Red Rocks Trail. The Red Rocks Trail is a longer route that will lead eventually to the Centennial Parking lot along Mapleton.

There is a trail pole with two green signs. One sign points to the left and says "Red Rocks Trail" and the other one points straight and says "Red Rocks Loop"
Choose which way

If you take the Red Rocks Trail, you will reach another fork in the road where you can choose to take the Anemone Loop. This loop is 4.4 miles long and should take about 2.5 hours to complete. Make sure to keep your dogs on a leash at all times.

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.

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.

Price: Rooms are around $200 – $300/night in the summer and can go as low as $125/night in the winter.

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.

There is not a lot of tree covering or shade except in a few spots near the beginning and a few spots near the top. You should definitely make sure to bring water and wear SPF for these reasons. While the Red Rocks Spur Loop was not a major physical challenge, I found it really fun and rewarding. It was a nice warm-up walking to the peak, and I really enjoyed climbing and scrambling around on the red rocks. If you have limited time but want great views and nature, this could be the perfect Boulder hiking trail for you.

You can see many red rock formations looking up on the Red Rocks Loop Boulder.
Looking up at the red rocks