The second best place in the world for a hike

Do Boulder’s 145 miles of trails trump Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code?

by Martin Mapes

If you’ve read the Boulder Ale Trail origin story you know that a walking visit to Scotland had a lot to do with it.

What you may not know is that Scotland is uniquely designed for great walking.

There is a law in Scotland called the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. In short, it says that as a recreational walker (or jogger, swimmer, hiker) you have the right to be on just about any land in Scotland, so long as you exercise this right responsibly.

It doesn’t aply to houses, gardens, or airport runways, but essentially you are allowed to get from any point A to any point B by walking there. Just be a responsible adult about it.

In Scotland (and England) you can buy an Ordnance Survey Leisure map. Pick one at random and marvel at all of the trails, footpaths, and bridleways marked in every corner of the country.

Ordnance Survey provides incredibly detailed maps

It’s even more impressive on foot. Ways and trails will lead you along rivers, past farmland, and through small villages -- The Borders Abbeys Way even crosses a golf course.

Here in the Western United States things are different. Barbed-wire fences seem to line every road. And except for our National Parks and National Forests, every parcel is marked with "keep out" and "private property."

Still, we do have it good here in Boulder County. The LoBo Trail (the underlying route behind the Boulder Ale Trail) is just a small fraction of the hundreds of miles of trails in Boulder County.

It’s just that sometimes hiking here in the States I think of Woody Guthrie:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

* Okay, we admit it. There are segments of the trail where there are cars. See the Route Overview page for more details.