In Boulder, it can be hard to resist the high ground. From everywhere in town, the Flatirons tantalize in view; one can get up close to those rocks by ascending the trail from Chautauqua Park. Equally mesmerizing is Green Mountain. That regal point, too, can be hiked if one is up for the elevation gain.
But maybe one wants to keep it simple on low, flat ground. There are treasures here as well. Take, for example, Wonderland Lake.
The body of water is a pleasant surprise in the middle of a neighborhood, not far west of busy Broadway Street. The lake is the centerpiece of open space left undisturbed, a designated wildlife sanctuary abutting the foothills. The fenced-off shortgrass prairie and wetlands are home to an array of birds and critters.
The trail encircling the lake is home to another array: hikers, joggers and cyclists who might elect to take laps or connect with the surrounding network. One side path, about three-quarters of a mile one way, leads to the top of Wonderland Hill, a launch point for paragliders. Another option is to follow the Foothills South Trail farther afield.
The trail around Wonderland Lake is also frequented by parents introducing little ones to nature. Young or old, we can all enjoy the simple pleasures here.
From the south side of the lake at the playground, we opted to start the loop clockwise, toward the foothills. In about a half-mile, the trail briefly meets the sidewalk; the dirt and gravel continues back to the lake just ahead. At another split, stay right, following the shoreline. Spots are marked for fishing on this side of the lake.
A short spur leads to a peninsula with open views of the water and distant mountains. Relax. Save those heights for another day.
Trip log: 1.3 miles round trip (loop), 131 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Parking lot at 4201 Broadway, Boulder
FYI: Dogs on leash. No swimming or boating. More information at bouldercolorado.gov/trail/wonderland-lake
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE