Why we love it: In a world of bagging fourteeners, this barely qualifies as a hike. However, it's the perfect pull-off spot between Boulder and Nederland to snap a few pictures, dip your toes in the water, and give a little wink to Mother Nature.
When to go: Between May 1 to October 31. The trail is closed in the winter.
Several friends have told me about Boulder Falls, and each one made a point to clarify that this was more of a leisurely walk than a hike. They were right—the trek brings to mind the phrase "short and sweet." At only .3 miles out and back, you can still see the road from the waterfall. There's a slight, gradual climb—about 95 feet—over a few slippery, slanted rocks to reach the falls. The cascading water marks where North Boulder Creek meets Middle Boulder Creek.
This is an easy hike, so you'll see families with dogs, couples, and groups of friends taking photos on the downed logs beneath the falls. And there's entertainment: climbers regularly ascend the nearby rock faces. The falls are gorgeous, the mist feels wonderful, and it just goes to show that you don't have to hike into the backcountry to commune with nature. Sometimes you just need a quick fix.
Getting there: From Boulder, head west on Canyon Boulevard/Highway 119. The parking lot is about 9 miles down, on the left. Cross Highway 119 with care—it can be very busy and there's a curve right at the parking lot.