The Nighthawk Hiking Trail near Boulder is an excellent route through a vast open space. Just outside the little bluegrass town of Lyons, Hall Ranch is one of the area's several designated Boulder Country Open Spaces. Hall Ranch offers numerous multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The Nighthawk Trail is the only trail that is exclusively designated for pedestrian use. This offers a bit more solitude, as Hall Ranch is a local favorite for mountain biking.
From the main upper parking lot, the Nighthawk trail begins after 300 yards of trailhead. Signs designate the Nighhawk Trail clearly, mentioning that this is a pedestrian only trail. The trail crosses the main meadow heading west as it stays relatively flat. Wild brush, cactus, and pine trees are scattered about the area making the air Colorado crisp. The majority of the trail is loose sand and sandstone rock. This trail is 4.7 miles one way to the Button Rock trail junction. Along the way the trail will gradually gain elevation up and over sandstone cliffs and switchbacks. The landscape will begin to open up, and hikers can enjoy the views of the South St. Vrain Creek Valley. Deer and rattlesnakes frequent this area in particular, so keep your eyes open.
The Nighthawk Trail can be used as a quick out and back, or it can be traveled as a long day hike using the various connecting network of trails. Various loops can easily exceed 10 miles round trip, offering excellent utility of this open space close to Boulder.