Heil Valley Ranch/Lichen Loop Professional Review and Guide
"This great family hike is in Boulder County’s newest open space area. It is a great way to get the kids out into the woods on a short, scenic loop through stands of beautiful ponderosa pines and open meadows. Heil Valley Ranch is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing, so keep an eye on your dog for this hike.
From the trailhead/picnic area, pass the information kiosk and follow the signs for the Lichen Loop. The trail goes over a wooden bridge and heads left, up to the start of the loop portion of the hike.
Travel through stands of beautiful ponderosa pines and a meadow filled with tall grasses, yuccas, and cacti. Views to the north up the valley are spectacular, with sharp-cut canyons and open meadows. Reach a trail junction at around the 0.5-mile mark and go right, switchbacking up through the ponderosas. Past several large lichen-covered boulders, the trail breaks out into an open meadow with tall prairie grass and the occasional ponderosa tree. Views open to the south and east at upturned sedimentary rock along a ridgeline."