As they say, heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. Getting nature’s exposure is believed to drastically improve our mental and physical health.
Although fleeing from the office desk into nature gest may seem hard at first, but not anymore as we have sorted out a list of Best Colorado Hiking Trails near you after interviewing many locals, talking with tourists, and pondering visitors’ experiences online.
Colorado since long has been a hiker’s dream come true. Encompassing vast grassy plains to the rocky mountains and verdant valleys with awe-inspiring landscapes makes up the vicinity of Colorado with plenty of spring hiking trails and camping/hiking options near Denver.
These trails are of various lengths ranging from a day hike to over a day, talking about the difficulty levels; there are preferably short, appealing treks with low-moderate levels, whereas for adventure seekers, there are moderate to hard:
longer, and challenging trails that take you through the absolute wilderness to test your capabilities to extremes- in short, Colorado has everything for everyone.
Table of Contents
1 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain undoubtedly is one of the famous national parks of the United States, with over 04 million people flooding annually to find comfort in the mighty peaks over 12,000 feet, rugged pathways, alpinist lakes with mind blogging views.
The Park is situated between the towns of Grand Lake to the west and Estes Park to the east. The Rocky Mountain National Park can be reached 76miles (122 km) away from Denver International Airport, from where you can either drive northwest to Estes Park or take the Estes Park Shuttle to reach the Park.
The Rocky Mountain National Park occupies a hiking area of over 355 miles in the wilderness away from human intervention and excellent chances to see wildlife, i.e., Moose, Deer, Bighorn sheep, Elk, and over 370 bird species.
The open hiking trail and easily accessible one is the Wild Basin Trail, which lies in the easy to moderate category depending on how far you go or what type of adventure suits you.
If you’re not fond of walking and want things to go smooth like a rejuvenating walk in nature, then the one-mile Copeland Fall suits you, and if you like, you can advance further to Calypso Cascades for approx 4 miles round trip.
However, if you have family and kids accompanying you, you’d certainly be more interested in fun, engaging, yet not so demanding trails. Well, there’s no better option than Bear Lake Loop.
It’s a brief and flat tour around the lake which offers wildlife sightings along with vistas of Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak.
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For a bit more challenge, you can opt for Pear Lake (9 miles round trip) and Bluebird Lake (12 miles round trip) to witness the yogi still subalpine lakes and encamp under open skies near one of these for a delightful outdoor vacation. There you’ll retreat for multiple-day backpacking adventures, fish multiple species of trout.
2 Four Pass Loop, White River National Forest
The Four Pass Loop is a classic 28 miles loop trail that is a part of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area in Central Colorado. The course takes you through in-depth insights of wondrous and high-reaching passes (West Maroon, Frigid Air, Trail Rider, Buckskin) through rocky pathways of the Elk Mountains.
Venturing your way through scenic meadows with blooming wildflowers up to alpinist lakes and thick forests is what White River National Forest is all about.
White River National Forest lies in close proximity to Denver, a 90 minutes drive (61miles) that will take you to the Park. To access the trail at Maroon Bells Area, you’re advised to enter before 08 am or after 5 pm to gain access with your vehicle. However, a shuttle service is also provided for visitors arriving in between.
The Four Pass Loop can be completed within 03-04 days depending on your pace, but let me assure you that it is physically demanding, which will make your heart beat faster as you ascend closer and closer to the Trail Rider Pass at 12,000 feet to finally be awe-inspired with the 360° panoramic views of national forests wilderness.
For ease & reliving experience, you can also opt for sidetracks of Geneva Lake and Willow Pass to explore nature at your own pace.
Along with that, tourists who have been to White River National Forest exclaim that Snowmass Lake is one of the most enjoyed places throughout the trek with incredible photography spots, clean campsites under open skies, with great fly fishing opportunities.
You’re recommended to follow the loop in a clockwise manner. The steepness is gradual throughout the West Maroon Valley, making it easier to carry the backpack in anticipation of tremendous mountainous vistas.
The best time to visit the Four Pass Loop is Mid-Summers; however, dealing with the irritating mosquitoes is at your consent.
3 Garden of the Gods Loop, Colorado Springs
The Garden of the Gods Loop is a 06 miles moderately crowded loop in Colorado Springs. The loop is famous for its prominent red rock formations, well-maintained trails, variety of stopping points, family, pet, and beginner-friendly loop.
The loop can be approached 06 miles northwest of downtown Colorado Springs. Though access to the Park is free, finding parking can hold you back. Come early or come late to find a parking spot to roll on. There’s also a free shuttle service available to all visitors too.
Starting on the Perkins Central Garden Trail, the loop ascends through scenic vistas of primeval forest and towering rock formations. The tracks are pretty good where even strollers can be moved. However, it’s only until the rain when things get muddy, and walking can get burdensome.
Rest assured, it is a great retreat with family, and beginners can enjoy the gentle trails giving them more and more time to admire the exposure and learn from what the Park has to offer.
Venturing through the loop, you’ll see the famous rock formation on the west that resembles two camels kissing each other. It is also the most photographed place on the trail.
On your east, you can find a sidetrack, Sleeping Giant Trail. This is a short, dirt trail that leads to the bottom of Sleeping Giant rock formation and follows the Cathedral Spire and Three Spires to reconnect with Perkins Central Garden Trail.
In the Garden of the Gods Loop, there are no fewer options to explore the geological formations. Choose your trek away from the crowd into the obscure and less traveled routes without fearing getting lost because the rock formations are always visible, and you can stumble back anytime you feel like you had enough.
Keep your phones charged for adventurous Instagram clicks, stories of yourself, or the captivating sunrise, sunset from Colorado Springs. Lastly, with all great fun opportunities, there can come a little spider web on your face. You got to watch ya.
4 Lost Lake Trail
Our fourth contender for the best Colorado Hiking Trails is the Lost Lake Trail, a 04 miles moderately trafficked trail to a pristine lake surrounded by the Indian Peaks. As they say, it’s not too long nor too much but a complete all-around hike.
Go through Boulder Creek through blooming wild fauna into the lush meadows to reach a set of tumbling waterfalls. In winter, relish cross country skiing and snowshoeing for an experience like never before!
The Lost Lake Trail is one hour northwest of Denver and is located outside the Indian Peak Wilderness Area near the small town of Nederland.
Drive past the settlement of Eldora through the rocky road and a run-off stream past beyond the trail sign to park your vehicle at a better spot. This will also save a mile to start off from a better place.
It’s a beginner-friendly trail that can be traveled with the family that passes through ancient woods, offering insights into nature’s liar to reach sublime lakes.
These lakes are also rich in trout, so considering a fishing rod with you wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, especially at South Mesa Lake.
The trail begins at 9000 feet moving westwards in a thin shade of aspen which eases the start of the track until a swept valley and mountain in a distinct background starts to appear.
Ascend through the rocky terrain as far into the wilderness until you get to hear the rushing middle boulder creek. Stop, relax, have some snacks, or make a coffee for a bit of warmth to continue towards the lake.
Continue on the Devil’s Thumb Trail to reach the long-awaited Lost Lake, which is now not far enough, along with the nearby Woodland Lake and King Lake. There are around 08 campgrounds for families and first-time backpackers. Pitch in your tents, and if there’s more time in the day, you’ll not regret exploring the surrounding area on your own.
5 Chautauqua Park
Chautauqua Park trail is a highly crowded trail for locals and tourists alike; it boasts around 5.5 miles round trip that introduces visitors to the summit of Green Mountains with captivating sights of nearby boulders, Flatirons suburbs, and Chautauqua meadows.
The Park is situated on a 45-minute drive from Denver, offering countless hiking options into the Flatirons through deceiving canyons and expensive sightseeing of iconic Rocky mountains. The main trail takes you towards the Green Mountains and backs, whereas Enchanted Mesa Loop offers an easy hike through diverse terrain like pine forests.
Upon continuing the Mesa Trail, it’ll link itself to Bluebell Road Trail, walking shortly; you’ll reach a historic stone structure called Blue Bell Shelter, which is not only reputed to be the Chautauqua landmark but also a great picnic spot which can be opted for reservations for special occasions with your family and friends.
Head northwards until the hidden meadows begin to unveil themselves, from where you can hike flatirons on First and Second Flatirons Hike Trails.
You’ll also get along the Ski Jump Trail, which was operational in WW2, stop by to read the history and significance, or move onto the finishing Gregory Canyon Trailhead that is another 2-3 hours moderate difficulty trail encompassing several loops with good views of the Rocky Mountains, summit views, and jungle flora and fauna. The Baseline trail will head you back on the trailhead.
The Park provides access to Open Space Mountain Park Trails, a secluded trek meant for families and kids to spend more time with nature, so their wandering thoughts go adrift. Children love this part of the area as it gives them the freedom to explore and playfully experience the wild.
The Park is a must-look place on early morning lights when the sun approaches the mountains from the foreground, making it a great spectacle to watch. Many photographers wait in the early morning to capture in time moment of the first light awakening the sleeping meadows and wildlife alike.
Nature is an excellent remedy to all work-related stress and boredom, therefore going on a hiking or camping trip can be a great idea to spend quality time with your loved ones.
The rankings are based on the personal preferences of people with different tastes, likes, and backgrounds.
So it is always advisable to choose what suits you best regarding distance from your home, your vacation tenure, your hiking preferences (short, long hike), off-track opportunities, children or pets friendly trails, camping, lodging options, and jeep or RV parking facilities. Your next adventure awaits you!