The Great Outdoors: Healthy Activities in the Boulder County Area

With flowers in full bloom and warm temperatures beginning to peak in the lower 70s, the months of summer have officially begun. Many Colorado residents are itching to say goodbye to the winter blues and COVID-19 restrictions and stretch out in the summer sun. For many, summer simply means relaxing for weeks on end beachside but for residents of the Boulder County area, there is no better time to explore the activities available in the greater outdoors of Colorado. The area is more than well-known as a destination for recreational winter sports, but visitors and residents alike find that in the summer months, Colorado comes alive. Boulder County, in particular, benefits from being in the footsteps of the Rocky Mountain National Park. The sheer variety of outdoor activities—rock climbing, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.—is more than enough to fill an entire summer with sober and outdoor-related recreational fun.

How Physical Activity Helps Recovery

For addiction recovery patients, the Boulder County area presents an ideal environment for taking up new or old habits that will further promote long-term sobriety. Outdoor physical activities such as hiking have proven benefits to patients’ overall well-being while in recovery, both psychological as well as physical. The physical activity itself releases endorphins which reduces patients’ chances for increased feelings of depression. The activity of hiking itself also takes up a large amount of the leisure time patients experience in early recovery—time no longer spent misusing illicit substances—replacing it with a healthy habit. Routine, structure, and goal-oriented achievements are all benefits that come from any outdoor physical activity by improving self-worth as well as reinforcing mental and physical health in early recovery. Not to mention, patients may accidentally turn themselves on to a new hobby they enjoy and would have never experienced had they continued misusing illicit substances. Outdoor physical activities also can be done in a group setting, making it a great way to ease into sober socialization and preventing the threat of isolation that often occurs in early recovery.

We have included some of the top trails in the Boulder County area for hiking below to start all the burgeoning amateur outdoor enthusiasts.

Hiking Trails for the Amateur and Experienced Outdoor Enthusiasts

  • Mount Sanitas: The Mount Sanitas hike is on several must-do lists for the Boulder County area and tops out our list. Interested hikers can start their trek on this moderate to difficult trail from downtown Boulder. Although the hike’s difficulty level is a little higher than a casual stroll through the woods, the scenic views of Mount Sanitas more than reward hikers for their efforts. There is a small parking alcove at the start of the trail if visitors are not walking from downtown Boulder, and the actual trail ascends at a gradual incline that will break a sweat even for experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers finish at the summit of Mount Sanitas and can enjoy the scenic view of Boulder as well as the mountain ranges to the north and west. The total distance for the looped trail is 3.2 miles.
  • Royal Arch Hike: The Royal Arch Hike is also listed as moderate to difficult, but just like Mount Sanitas, the payoff in viewing the beautiful rock formations is well worth any hikers’ efforts. The 3.1-mile trail itself is located just off Baseline Road, and we should forewarn less experienced hikers that the trail requires climbing many stairs to eventually reach the top of the Royal Arch. Visitors can also simply view the rock formations from below if the stairs prove too strenuous.
  • Chautauqua Trail: This is a moderate to easy 1.2-mile trail that mainly serves as an inroad to some of the longer, more popular trails of the Flatirons. However, if you are a fan of wildflowers, this trail provides an abundance of blooms as well as a slight incline that will be fairly easy for a quick afternoon hike.
  • First and Second Flatirons Loop: Located in the scenic Flatirons, these two short looped trails provide a moderate level of difficulty for hikers with scenic views of Boulder’s iconic sandstone rock formations. These 2.5-mile looped trails do get quite rocky toward the end, so be advised to wear proper footwear.
  • Green Mountain Summit Hike: Situated on the North end of Chautauqua Park, the Green Mountain Summit is one of the longer hikes at 4 miles, but the difficulty is listed as easy to moderate. Wildflowers and evergreens run alongside much of the hike and at the summit, hikers can enjoy the view of South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak.

Outdoor physical activities such as hiking can be beneficial in early recovery by providing structure as well as improving patients’ overall health and well-being. Since addictive disorders target both the mind and body, this type of activity is the direct antithesis of continuous substance misuse and can serve as an entryway into healthier, fun, and sober lifestyle choices. If you or someone you love needs help from an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has dual-diagnosis treatment services that can help. We offer men the chance to achieve initial sobriety as they begin to learn the necessary skills to maintain that sobriety in the long term. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, we utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities to address the psychological and physical reliance of addictive disorders. This includes unique programs like our Outdoor Wilderness Therapy, where men reconnect with themselves, nature, and fellow recovery patients through physical activity like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. Our addiction recovery treatment services include a 90-day inpatient program, intensive outpatient services, and the chance to reside at our sober living campus. For more information about Choice House facilities and treatment services, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.

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