Picture Rock Trail

Trail Meter: 

You've ridden the rest, now ride the best!

If you're in the mood for a mellow trail to hit when you're out of shape and ready for a relaxing afternoon, this is not the trail for you.

This first time you ride this trail, it's gonna feel all jumbled and funky like trying to force conversation on a first date in high school. But, after a couple of runs on this, you'll get your groove on and it's a flowing pump track of silliness. Rolling sections, ripping tight turns, rock problems that will make you balance, and a constant grade that is just the right steepness for giggles make this one of the best trails in the Front Range. The trail's just a couple of years old and it's a reflection of what trail designers have learned about making trails fun, safe, and sustainable in the last couple decades.

At 5.5 miles one-way, it's not a small ride all by itself, but you can connect this ride with the rest of Heil Valley Ranch (see below) or go totally bonkers and do this as part of the Boulder Monster! My favorite afternoon ride is to start in town and add an out and back on the Wild Turkey to get to the overlook!

Riding the Trail

Starting at the Picture Rock trailhead, get your schmancy bike clothes on, be sure to tie your shoelaces and head across Red Gulch Road and hit the trail. Does it seem smooth and flat to you? Just wait, the hurt is coming! After about a half mile the open fields end and you'll start getting into the narrow singletrack goodness.

You've got two miles of groovy flowing uphill until things really change up again. As you're cruising up here, be aware that there are a heck of a lot of blind turns here so riding with an iPod may be a bit of a death wish. Ever wonder what a "picture rock" is? About a mile in, you'll see a big rock picnic table. The tabletop is a special kind of sandstone quarried right here in Lyons called picture rock. After the trail was completed, we at BMA thought that it would be swell to have a place where everyone could chill out and enjoy the view, so we paid for this table to be put in.

So What Is "Picture Rock"?

See that slab of rock that is the tabletop in the above photo?  Sweet isn't it? Back when the quarries in Lyons were just getting started, there were outcrops of sandstone that exposed the layers of sedimentary rock quite well.  Some of those layers separated, mineral laden water seeped in, dried, and the process repeated over thousands of years.  The tabletop above is a layer of sandstone that looks like a cut cross section, but it's not. Who knows how many millenia it took to create this beautiful pattern.  The quarry the trail runs through reportedly had plenty of picture rock to harvest and sell.  Because the active quarries today have been in operation for more than 50 years, outcrops are hard to find and picture rock is rare.  BMA purchased the rock for this picnic table and BCPOS installed it.

BMA/BCPOS plaque on Picture Rock

Halfway (mile 2.5) - The Silo

If you're a beginning rider and getter here freaked you out or you barfed up your lungs, there's no shame in turning around. If you are feeling your inner badness, however, prepare to kick it up a notch! From here up to the top of this trail, Picture Rock gets a lot more technical. It's not the rock garden of madness known as Bitterbrush, but it's got some funky bits of rock hopping that regularly claims chainrings. There's nothing here that a strong rider can't clean and it's great fun for the rock riding fetishist, but the Bike Patrol has built up quite a list of injured cyclists they've helped off the mountain here.

Rockin' the Top

Yup, just about the time that you think that this uphill is never going to end, you'll get to mile 5.5 and you'll be at the end of the trail, and at a great rest area with plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the views. Picture Rock ends at the Wild Turkey Trail where you can add some great additional miles in.

Getting Back Down

Here comes the payback for that sweat. Like I said, the first time you hit this trail you'll either think it's clunky with no flow, or you'll get owned. But, once you get the groove and know where most of the tricks are, this is a blast heading down. Above the silo, look for tight turns and the occasional rock that double as a kicker. Below the silo, it's super smooth and flowy. Love it, but keep your eyes open for other folks.

Picture Rock Trail GPX File109.64 KB
Picture Rock Trail Google Earth File4.71 KB
Heil Valley Ranch Kiosk Map.pdf1.7 MB
Map to Trail Head: 

View Boulder County Trailheads in a larger map

Picture Rock Trail Click on image to enlarge
Picture Rock Trail Click on image to enlarge

T: 6 A: 6 C: 9

Learn more about BMA Rating
Learn More About Trail Difficulty Ratings
5.5 mi.
1056 ft.
BMA needs your help updating trail conditions. Please register for an account on our website - it's free, fast, and instantly makes you part of the BMA trail community