Picture Rock Trail, Heil Valley Ranch - Picture Rock Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Picture Rock Trail - 10.4 miles

Heil Valley Ranch - Picture Rock Trailhead

Looking north towards Hall Ranch from the Picture Rock Trail

Looking north towards Hall Ranch from the Picture Rock Trail

Round-Trip Length: 10.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,415' - 6,392' (6,392' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +977' net elevation gain (+1,087' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Picture Rock Trail - 10.4 Miles Round-Trip

The Picture Rock Trail is located on the north side of Heil Ranch in Lyons, Colorado.

This newly built trail leads south into Heil Ranch proper, which until recently could only be accessed from its south entrance off of Lefthand Canyon Drive.

The Picture Rock Trail now connects the multi-use trail networks of Hall and Heil Ranch. Hikers, runners and mountain bikers will enjoy mild grades, smooth track, miles of open space and a variety of wildlife:

The trail begins on smooth single track through a wavy mix of feathergrass, little bluestem and big bluestem. It rises steadily on a winding course through a spacious valley dotted with yucca, cacti, pinyon and juniper.

Heavily vegetated gulches carve through the area, riparian corridors that attract wildlife and serve as natural thoroughfares. Views of Hall Ranch and its Lyon Formation sandstone improve as you climb.

The trail reaches a picnic area in the mid-valley where juniper crowds the path (1.95 miles : 5,727'). A meandering path leads into the upper valley, where the landscape opens considerably (2.7 miles : 5,920'). Look for deer, elk, coyote, fox, and turkey in this rolling expanse.

The trail edges to the west side of the valley and threads dense timber on a more rugged track (3.5 miles : 6,052'). You'll reach a Trail Narrows sign at 4.2 miles (6,170'), but see little difference beyond this point.

The Picture Rock Trail moves steadily to its connection with the Wild Turkey Trail (5.2 miles : 6,392'), a newly created loop that continues through Heil Ranch proper.

Complete the 2.9 Wild Turkey Loop Trail for a 13.3 mile outing, or use it to connect with the Wapiti Loop Trail for additional route and distance options.

Heil Valley Ranch is home to over 50 mammal species including deer, elk, bobcat, bear and mountain lion.Rattlesnakes are drawn to prairie dog villages and sunny outcrops, and serve as a good reminder to remain on designated trails at all times.

Golden eagles and prairie falcons nest on sandstone cliffs over these valleys, while contiguous wooded areas are favored by northern goshawk and Cooper's hawk. Turkey are abundant at Heil Ranch, and frequently seen throughout the year.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 12.682 W105 16.351 — Picture Rock Trailhead
  • N40 12.170 W105 16.201 — 1.0 miles : Steady rise into lower valley
  • N40 11.725 W105 16.231 — 1.95 miles: Picnic table access; heavier brush ahead
  • N40 11.566 W105 16.557 — 2.5 miles : Winding course into upper valley
  • N40 11.382 W105 16.776 — 3.0 miles : Valley opens with great views
  • N40 11.387 W105 16.873 — 3.5 miles : Trace forest fringe on west side of valley
  • N40 11.066 W105 17.004 — 4.0 miles : Trail rides moderate grade up rockier path
  • N40 10.906 W105 17.116 — 4.5 miles : Trail threads pinyon and ponderosa stands
  • N40 10.685 W105 17.308 — 5.2 miles : Picture Rock Trail - south terminus

Worth Noting

  • The Picture Rock Trail's mild grades are well-suited for runners, families and winter activities.

  • This is a popular multi-use trail, especially among mountain bikers. Honor yield protocols. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.

  • Heil Valley Ranch supports one of the last elk herds that venture from the Continental Divide to their natural winter grounds on the eastern plains.

  • Historic remains found along the Picture Rock Trail include rock walls and dugouts from the Whitestone and Vickery Quarry Complex, which operated from the 1890s to the 1960s. Lyons sandstone procured here can be seen in many buildings on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not permitted on the Picture Rock Trail or within Heil Valley Ranch.

  • Camping, hunting, and motorized vehicles are not permitted within Heil Valley Ranch.

  • It is illegal to enter, move or remove historic remains found in Heil Valley Ranch.

Directions to Trailhead

The Picture Rock Trailhead is located on Red Gulch Road, .5 miles off of Highway 7 in Lyons, Colorado.

From the Highway 36 - Highway 7 intersection in Lyons, turn west on Highway 7 towards Allenspark. Continue .5 miles to St Vrain Canyon Road and turn left. Travel .3 miles to Red Gulch Road and turn left. Follow Red Gulch Road .2 miles to the trailhead parking lot on the right. Park only in designated spaces.

The Picture Rock Trailhead can accommodate 27 cars and 3 horse trailers. Overflow parking is available at nearby Hall Ranch.

Contact Information

Boulder County Parks & Open Space
5201 St. Vrain Road
Longmont, Colorado 80503
Phone: 303.678.6200
Fax: 303.678.6180

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