Denver Colorado hiking offers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains. From family-friendly trails to challenging treks, there is something for everyone in this hiker’s paradise.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into various hikes suitable for all skill levels and interests. Discover picturesque day hikes with panoramic views, kid-friendly trails teeming with wildlife spotting opportunities, and dog-friendly options that cater to your furry friends. We will also highlight popular alpine trails near Denver and provide insights on conquering Colorado’s highest peaks – the “14ers.”
Whether you are a local or a traveler seeking fresh mountain air and unforgettable experiences, our detailed overview of Denver Colorado hiking destinations promises captivating adventures amidst stunning landscapes.
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Family-Friendly Hikes Near Denver
Denver, Colorado boasts a variety of family-friendly treks for all ages to enjoy. Red Rocks Park’s Trading Post Trail, a 1.6-mile circuit with views of stunning red rock formations and the possibility to observe native fauna such as foxes, golden eagles, and mule deer, is an ideal family hike. This easy ramble is an ideal choice for families with youngsters or those wanting a relaxed walk in the crisp mountain atmosphere.
Another great option for families is the Mount Falcon Castle hike near Morrison, Colorado. This short distance trek takes you up to castle ruins that kids will love exploring while parents enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. The trail also features informative signs about the history of Mount Falcon Castle along its path.
More Family-Friendly Hikes Near Denver
- Bear Lake Trailhead: A scenic hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that leads to a beautiful mountain lake.
- Mesa Trail: A 6.7-mile trail in Boulder that offers stunning views of the Flatirons and the Front Range.
- Brainard Lake Recreation Area: A great place for families to hike and picnic in the mountains.
- North Table Mountain: A mesa located in Golden, Colorado that offers great views of the Mile High City and the surrounding foothills.
Whether you’re looking for a short hike with great views or a longer trek through the mountains, Colorado has plenty of options for families. Gather your supplies and get ready to embark on an outdoor adventure.
Challenging Hikes Around Boulder
If you’re seeking adventure near Denver or Boulder, look no further than Chautauqua Park. This historic hamlet just outside Colorado Springs offers big views and numerous hikes that are perfect for those who crave a challenge while exploring the great outdoors.
Chautauqua Ranger Cottage
At the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage, you can find maps and get helpful advice from experienced rangers to make sure your trek is a success. Stop by to pick up maps, learn about trail conditions, and get advice from knowledgeable rangers before embarking on your hike.
The Mesa Trail, running 6.9 miles from Chautauqua to the Eldorado Springs parking lot, provides a moderate-level challenge with its varied terrain and elevation changes – plus gorgeous views of forests, meadows and mountain vistas. Along its path, you’ll be treated to picturesque scenery that includes lush forests, rolling meadows, and stunning mountain vistas. The Mesa Trail offers moderate difficulty but can be challenging at times due to elevation changes and rocky terrain – so come prepared.
- Trail Length: 6.9 miles one-way
- Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,000 feet
- Dogs Allowed?: Yes (on-leash)
In addition to Mesa Trail’s beauty and challenge level, it also connects with several other trails within Chautauqua Park – making it easy for hikers of all skill levels to find their perfect adventure. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore the challenging hikes around Boulder.
Spruce Creek Trailhead & Mohawk Lakes Hike
Looking for a hike that offers stunning views and fresh mountain air? Look no further than the Spruce Creek Trailhead leading to the Mohawk Lakes hike, just south of Breckenridge.
Wildflower Sightings on Mohawk Lakes Hike
Spring months bring a colorful display of wildflowers along the trail, including Indian paintbrushes, columbines, and lupines. But don’t worry if you miss the blooms – the trail offers beautiful scenery year-round.
Mountain Streams Along Spruce Creek
Traverse rocky terrain and lush greenery while listening to the soothing sound of crystal-clear mountain streams. Spot the diverse wildlife such as deer, elk, moose and even black bears while traversing the rocky terrain and lush greenery.
Make sure to bring along some refreshments and the right shoes for tackling tricky paths with sharp inclines. And if you’re looking for more hiking opportunities in Colorado, check out the Colorado Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, or Colorado Springs.
Conquering Colorado’s “14ers”
If you’re up for a challenge, consider tackling one of Colorado’s famous “14ers” – mountains with an elevation over 14,000 feet. Some of the most accessible options include Grays Torreys Peaks, South Mount Elbert, and Black Cloud Trails. These hikes are not for the faint-hearted but offer breathtaking views from their summits.
Grays Torreys Peaks
Two peaks in one day? Challenge accepted. Grays Torreys Peaks offers incredible vistas along the way, but be prepared for a long day out. This trail is around 8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 3,500 feet.
South Mount Elbert
Ready to climb the highest peak in Colorado? South Mount Elbert offers hikers a challenging climb through beautiful alpine forests. At a distance of 11 miles, you’ll ascend almost 4,900 feet as you take on the challenge of South Mount Elbert. Don’t forget to take in the stunning views.
Black Cloud Trails
For those seeking solitude on their hike up a “14er,” Black Cloud Trails might be your best bet. This lesser-known route climbs steeply through dense forest before opening up to stunning views atop its summit ridge. The trail covers roughly 10 miles round trip with an elevation gain of nearly 5,300 feet. Don’t forget to bring along a photographic device.
When attempting any of these challenging hikes, it’s essential to be prepared for long days out and changing weather conditions. Ensure you’re outfitted with the right equipment, have a plentiful supply of H2O, and are acquainted with the track before starting your excursion. Remind yourself that the experience is as vital as reaching your destination.
Chicago Lakes Summit Lake Trail
The Chicago Lakes Summit Lake Trail is a picturesque hiking destination located just over an hour west of Georgetown. This 11.3-mile out-and-back trail is an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil escape from the city, offering stunning alpine scenery as it winds its way to two picturesque mountain lakes.
Alpine Scenery That Will Take Your Breath Away
This beautiful trail takes hikers through lush forests, across mountain streams, and past cascading waterfalls before reaching its final destination at two stunning alpine lakes nestled beneath towering peaks. The journey offers breathtaking views of Mount Evans and other surrounding mountains that will leave you feeling inspired by nature’s grandeur.
Proximity to Denver: A Wilderness Experience Close to Home
One of the main attractions of this hike is its proximity to Denver, allowing outdoor enthusiasts easy access to a true wilderness experience without having to travel far from their urban base. Despite its close vicinity to civilization, this trail presents an atmosphere of seclusion and peace that can be hard to discover in more packed spots.
Make sure you come prepared with appropriate gear such as sturdy hiking boots or shoes, plenty of water, and snacks or lunch for sustenance along the way. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll want memories from this unforgettable trek.
For more information on the Chicago Lakes Summit Lake Trail, check out AllTrails.
Photo by Nico Miot on Unsplash
Kid-Friendly Hikes with Wildlife Spotting Opportunities
Colorado has plenty of hikes that are perfect for families with kids who want to explore the great outdoors and spot some local wildlife. East Plum Creek, located near Castle Rock, is an easy and scenic trail that leads to Idaho Springs’ four lakes. These picturesque lakes provide excellent opportunities for picnics by the water and wildlife sightings such as deer, birds, and even beavers. Check out this AllTrails link to learn more about the East Plum Creek Trail.
If you’re looking for more family-friendly trails, Rocky Mountain National Park has got you covered. The Bear Lake Loop is a popular option that features a relatively flat terrain surrounded by towering trees and beautiful views of Bear Lake itself. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, marmots, or other native creatures along the way. For further information on family-friendly trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, visit their website.
- Elevation Gain: Minimal gain in elevation makes these trails suitable for young children.
- Mileage: Both East Plum Creek Trail (4 miles) and Bear Lake Loop (0.7 miles) are short enough to keep kids engaged without becoming too tired.
- Terrain: Well-maintained paths ensure safety while exploring these beautiful natural settings.
Incorporating wildlife spotting into your family hike not only adds excitement but also provides educational moments where children can learn about Colorado’s diverse ecosystem firsthand. Gather your hiking gear, prepare a snack, and embark on an adventure with the family to discover nature.
South Platte River Trail Adventure
Looking for a challenging hike near Denver that rewards you with stunning views? For an adventurous and rewarding hike near Denver, the South Platte River Trail is a great choice. Take a 17-mile journey through gorgeous meadows, thick pine woods and awe-inspiring rock formations with the South Platte River Trail.
Meadows & Pine Forests
The South Platte River Trail is a nature lover’s dream. As you traverse the tranquil meadows and coniferous woodlands, be on the lookout for wildlife such as deer, elk, and even bears – though do remember to keep your distance and give them their space. Just remember to keep your distance and respect their space.
Rock Formations & Views
The unique rock formations along the trail are a sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the geological wonders that have been formed over millions of years. And once you reach higher elevations, prepare to be blown away by the panoramic views.
- Length: Approximately 17 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: Around 1,600 feet
- Dogs Allowed?: Yes (on leash)
- Parking: Available at several trailheads along the route; check out this map for more details.
Just remember, this hike is not for the faint of heart. Pack plenty of sustenance to keep your strength up throughout the long hike, as it’s worth every ounce of effort. But trust us, the South Platte River Trail is worth the effort.
Explore the Alpine Trails Near Denver
If you’re craving adventure and breathtaking views, head to the alpine trails near Denver. Herman Gulch and Chasm Lake Longs Peak Campground are two popular trails that offer stunning scenery and a chance to immerse yourself in Colorado’s pristine wilderness.
The Herman Gulch Trail is a 6.5-mile out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of over 1,600 feet. You’ll trek through lush forests, wildflower meadows, and past shimmering alpine lakes. Be prepared for snow even during summer months; appropriate gear such as trekking poles and sturdy footwear is essential when hiking this route.
Chasm Lake Longs Peak Campground
The Chasm Lake Trail, located within Rocky Mountain National Park at the base of Longs Peak, offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for hikers seeking adventure at higher elevations. This 8.4-mile round trip hike features an elevation gain of nearly 2,500 feet while passing by cascading waterfalls and towering granite cliffs before reaching the picturesque Chasm Lake. Pack your snapper.
Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions in the alpine environment. Happy hiking.
Dog-Friendly Hiking Options in Colorado
Calling all outdoor enthusiasts and their furry companions. Colorado is a paradise for adventure seekers, and we’ve got some tail-wagging trails for you and your pup to explore near Denver.
Calhan Paint Mines Interpretive Park
Located northeast of Colorado Springs, Calhan Paint Mines Interpretive Park offers easy trails perfect for young children and dogs alike. With unique geological formations to explore, this park provides an engaging experience while allowing your pup to join the adventure on-leash.
Mount Morrison Trail
For breathtaking views of the city, head over to Mount Morrison Trail. This moderately challenging hike allows leashed dogs and boasts stunning panoramic vistas from its summit. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water for both you and your furry friend as there is limited shade along the trail.
Shelf Silver Plume Trail
For a colorful wildflower experience, check out Shelf Silver Plume Trail. Keep in mind that reaching the starting point requires a high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle due to rough road conditions. Once at the trailhead, enjoy a beautiful hike through meadows filled with vibrant flowers alongside your leashed dog.
With these dog-friendly hiking options in Colorado, you and your furry friend can create unforgettable memories while exploring the great outdoors together. Don’t forget to pack water, snacks, and poop bags for your pup, and always follow Leave No Trace principles to keep our trails beautiful for generations to come.
FAQs in Relation to Denver Colorado Hiking
Denver: A Hiker’s Paradise
Denver is a hiker’s dream with trails for all levels, from Red Rocks Park to Chautauqua Ranger Cottage, and the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.
Boulder is a top city for hiking with trails like Mesa Trail, Royal Arch Trail, and Flatirons Loop Trail, while Colorado Springs offers Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods Park.
For the title of “Hiking Capital of the US,” Sedona, Arizona is a top contender with its stunning red rock formations and diverse trail system.
The best time to hike in Denver is from late May to early October when temperatures are mild and wildflowers bloom on trails like Mohawk Lakes Hike near Breckenridge.
Denver, Colorado is a hiker’s paradise with trails for all levels of experience, from family-friendly hikes to challenging “14ers.”
For breathtaking scenery and wildlife spotting, check out these top hiking spots around Denver.
- Chautauqua Park in Boulder offers stunning views of the Flatirons and easy access to other trails.
- St. Mary’s Glacier near Idaho Springs is a short but steep hike that rewards you with a beautiful alpine lake.
- Royal Arch in Boulder is a challenging hike that takes you through a stunning sandstone arch.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting, these hikes are sure to satisfy your craving for adventure in the great outdoors.