Pick up the trail at 30th and Arapahoe, on the east end of town, at Scott Carpenter Park?named in honor of a hometown hero who was the second astronaut to orbit the earth. With downtown and the Pearl Street Inn just over a mile way, you can opt to linger about the park for a while or even stray a bit off the trail to the Boulder Crossroads Mall or Village Shopping Center before heading into the city center.
Moving west on the path, out of the park, you will quickly come to the Underwater Observatory, where you can stare through glass panels at trout and other aquatic wonders below the water surface. If the kids are along, take some time out to feed the fish. A vending machine spits out a handful of trout pellets for a quarter.
The trail then enters the University of Colorado's historic district. Here you will see buildings dating back to 1876, the year Colorado became a state and Boulder received the university. To get to the heart of the district veer off the trail at 17th Street and head past University Avenue to Pleasant Street. Old Main, the first building built on campus, resides on the Norlin Quadrangle. Erected in 1876, when the surrounding landscape still resembled a lonely prairie, the top floor is now home to the Heritage Center. Mackey Auditorium sits across from Old Main. A prominent local banker, Andrew Mackey, willed $300,000 for the construction of an auditorium, but the cash became tied up in legal proceedings. Thus, the structure stood without windows and doors for a number of years. A 1985 renovation turned the old auditorium into a state of the art concert facility, which is now home to the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. The Woodbury Arts and Sciences building went up in 1890 as the men's dormitory. At the end of the block, at Pleasant and Broadway, past the beloved Varsity Lake, sits the Hale Science Building. Built in 1891, the structure served as a radio transmission research center during construction. Therefore no iron nails hold the place together?they would have interfered with frequencies.
Turn north on Broadway and take a stroll through Andrews Arboretum before again connecting with the Boulder Creek Path at Arapahoe. From Arapahoe, move west on the trail into Central Park. The lively green is always crawling with locals and students, especially on summer days when the Farmers' Market is in full swing. This spot is also a great stopping point for those who want to head over to the Pearl Street Mall for a bite to eat shopping. For the crowd wanting to do more sightseeing, go west along the path to the Heartling Sculpture Garden. The garden is home to an elegant stone statue of Chief Niwot, the Arapahoe chief who greeted the first gold seekers in the area. The next stop is the Kids' Fishing Pond. Kids under 12 can cast a line for free and keep the ones that do not get away. After the kids have their fill of fishing, travel over to the Xeriscape Garden and observe how Boulderites manage to landscape with little or no water.
The journey ends at Eben G. Park, named for a local pharmacist and avid mountaineer. The park rests in the shadow of the foothills and is a perfect place to have a picnic before heading back downtown. For those still wanting more exercise or riding bikes, the trail continues west through Settlers Park and begins climbing Boulder Canyon. After about a mile you will see the Whitewater Course, where kayakers practice turns and maneuvers.