Fairly rocky with some loose spots. This can become muddy with standing water after very heavy rains. The northern section holds snow longer.
The Hogback Ridge Trail is a satisfying but short loop at the northern end of the Foothills North Trail
. It does not see as much traffic as you would expect for being so close to the neighborhoods of north Boulder. From the junction of the Foothills North Trail
, head west along the "stem" of this lollipop loop. The loop can be done in either direction: opt for counter-clockwise if you want a longer gentler climb up and a fast descent, or clockwise if you want to get your heart pounding at first and preserve your knees on the descent. The following is a description of the loop in the counter-clockwise direction- that is, heading north (right) first instead of west (left).
The trail ambles north, gradually gaining elevation as it covers open fields of tall grass and wildflowers. The narrow trail has many large embedded rocks with some sections of loose stones. There is little shade on the trail, so be prepared. The trail passes a spring and numerous boulders, providing sweeping views of the eastern plains. Travel along the benches of the foothills, until the northernmost point after which the trail steepens noticeably. Here the ascent begins in earnest, climbing several challenging sections around the northern end of the ridge.
Next, the trail skirts the western side of the hogback and you begin to see down into the next canyon which holds Olde Stage Road. Here you can also see remnants of the Olde Stage Fire (1990 and 2009). If you stay on the official trail you won't reach the "summit" of the hogback, so if you want the best views, scramble up the rocky backside or look for one of the faint spur trails.
Once back on the Hogback Ridge Trail, continue south along the ridge taking advantage of shade provided by the pines. Pop back out into the open and descend into a picturesque meadow surrounded by rocky outcrops. This pretty spot in the saddle between the two hogbacks feels very inviting! Contour around grassy hillsides and then prepare for the final downhill, taking advantage of the rock and log steps. These help you shed elevation in a hurry. Be sure to appreciate the wonderful views to the south of the Flatirons and Bear Peak in the distance. After briefly passing through some more prairie terrain, close the loop and retrace your steps back down the "stem" of the lollipop to the Foothills North Trail
Deer, coyotes, hawks, rattlesnakes (especially on the summit), wildflowers, ponderosa pine.