Hogback Lollipop Loop, North Foothills Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Hogback Lollipop Loop - 2.95 miles

North Foothills Trailhead

Early morning on the Hogback Trail

Early morning on the Hogback Trail

Round-Trip Length: 2.95 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,565' - 5,565' (6,393' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +828' net elevation gain (+882' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Hogback Lollipop Loop - 2.95 Miles Round-Trip

This short trail climbs and circles the east face of a Hogback, a sharply rounded ridge with steep sloping sides where the eastern plains meet Colorado's Front Range. Visitors will enjoy good wildlife viewing opportunities and rangy views across the Flatirons and eastern plains.

The trailhead is located on the east side of Highway 36; from the parking area walk through the underpass to access the Foothills Trail. En route you'll pass a lively Prairie Dog town, where interpretive signs explain the animals' sophisticated communication techniques and reliance of other species on the community for food and shelter.

The Foothills Trail rises steadily to the Foothills Trail - Hogback Loop Trail junction (.6 miles : 5,760'). Here the Foothills Trail bends south (left) towards Wonderland Lake, and the right fork trail continues north for several miles along the foothills.

The Hogback Loop's left fork takes a steep, direct approach to the loop's highest point, while the right fork runs a longer, more gradual course. With better views and lighting in mind, the following describes clockwise travel on the Hogback Loop Trail:

From the split, steep grades continue up rudimentary stairs (.9 miles) that spill into a saddle between two hogbacks (1.15 miles : 6,192'). Rocky outcrops and pine trees dot the saddle, a pretty space with good perspective on this uniquely textured landscape. After a brief reprieve a short, final push leads to the top of a boulder-strewn hogback (1.35 miles : 6,393). Exercise caution when scrambling about, as rattlesnakes are common to the area.

The trail crests atop the hogback and drops quickly on its northern ridge to milder grades that run perpendicular across a yawning eastern slope. You'll enjoy sensational views of the eastern plains, Boulder Reservoir and Chautauqua Park area on this diverting stretch. Travel eases upon completing the loop (2.35 miles), and continues downhill .6 miles back to the trailhead.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 04.226 W105 16.962 — North Foothills Trailhead
  • N40 04.153 W105 17.557 — .6 miles : Foothills Trail - Hogback Loop split
  • N40 04.336 W105 17.854 — 1.1 miles : Brief reprieve in saddle between hogbacks
  • N40 04.497 W105 17.893 — 1.35 miles : Apex atop hogback
  • N40 04.576 W105 17.663 — 1.75 miles : Heading south across base of hogbacks
  • N40 04.153 W105 17.557 — 2.35 miles : Back @ Foothills Trail - Hogback Loop split
  • N40 04.226 W105 16.962 — 2.95 miles : North Foothills Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Tectonic forces related to the greater Rocky Mountain uplift created ripples that forced rock layers to bulge and compress at its base, creating anticlines - or convex folds on the earth's surface. As the bulging anticline's softer sediments eroded, only hard ridges - known as Hogbacks - remained from the previously rounded hilltops.

  • Hogback ridges earn that name for their resemblance to the backs of wild boars.

  • Be mindful of private property lines near the hogback ridge.

  • Rattlesnakes are common throughout this area. Stay on the trail, and never place your hands or feet where you cannot see them.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not allowed on the Hogback Loop Trail.

  • Bikes are not allowed on the Hogback Loop Trail.

  • Both Dogs and Bikes are permitted on the Foothills Trail to the Hogback Loop junction, and may continue south along the Foothills Trail. They may not continue north on the Foothills Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

From downtown Boulder, CO:
Take Broadway to Highway 36. Turn left (north) on 36. In seconds you will see an unmarked dirt road on your right. Turn right - this road will lead to the North Foothills Trailhead parking lot on the east side of Highway 36. If this turn is missed, the next unmarked road on your right (.6 miles from the Broadway - Highway 36 junction, will also lead to the trailhead parking lot.

Contact Information

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Phone: 303-441-3440

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"I loved the hike would enjoying going out with this group again. Met some wonderful people."
Akashi Lanoff  -  Lafayette  -  Date Posted: April 4, 2016
"Really easy but fun hike with beautiful views. Fairly flat walking surface with just a few rocks here and there, wouldn't good for running. It is unfortunate that rt. 36 is so loud, but the views make up for it."
Marie  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: March 17, 2015
"Contrary to your trail description, dogs are NOT allowed on the bulk of the trail. "
Kate  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: September 4, 2013
"I would give this 3 stars as it is so close to a busy road"
Jim Minot  -  Acton, MA  -  Date Posted: October 9, 2012
"Great trail description. (So many times I read these and wonder what trail they are describing, because it in no way resembled the trail we had done.) A great workout, this trail, especially going clockwise, as described. 8 deer nestled on a ridge, and at least two motion activated animal cameras on the trail, I imagine to track mountain lions in the area. A great trail, and perfect description."
Jessica  -  Westminster, CO  -  Date Posted: May 26, 2012


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