I’ve been running the trails of Boulder’s mountain parks for over 20 years. This week I was looking at a trail map and noticed a small loop that I’ve never been on before. I decided to check it out.
I parked my bike at the trailhead, strapped on my hydration belt and started off. About 2 miles in I found the trail turnoff (unmarked) and followed it steeply uphill. I was already riding the excitement of exploring something new when I passed another smaller trail shooting off on its own. It looked legitimate, but it was not on any maps. Should I go explore this unnamed trail or be satisfied with the pleasure of what I’d already found?
After a moment’s debate I took the unnamed trail, not knowing if it would dead-end or take me very far out of my way. It led to a beautiful hidden overlook and then a gigantic boulder in the forest. The trail never petered out and eventually I found myself connecting back to the well-known trail system. The detour added about 3/4 mile and the new trails formed a perfect loop back to the trailhead. Awesome!
Some of my favorite experiences are discovering new places, those hidden gems, and it’s all the more exciting when they have been hiding nearby all along. I suspect there are hidden gems everywhere if we’re open to looking for them.