UPDATED MAR 15, 2020
You probably live in Denver because you want to spend time enjoying the outdoors. Luckily, it's not hard to find hiking trails in and around the city to stretch your legs with a little fresh air. So grab some water and a snack, then hit these epic trails to get back in touch with your inner explorer.
If you want to feel like a real Colorado resident, you better have at least one 14-er under your belt. These mountains are a two-for-one deal that offer the perfect opportunity to hike 14,000ft. mountain peaks. Although these are considered “easy” as far as 14,000ft. mountain peaks go, plan ahead, dress in layers, and avoid going hiking until summer. Start the four-mile, 3,000-foot elevation change up Grays, then follow the saddle over to Torreys. Your legs will ache for a couple days after, but the views above 14,000 feet make it all worth it.
This spot is nature’s Stairmaster. With miles of rocky terrain, steep bluffs, and a 1000-foot elevation change, you may be a bit intimidated, but we promise the views are worth it. Feel the burn for a little over four miles before you enjoy the view at the top of Denver, Golden, the Coors facility, and the Continental Divide. The best part is that this is all just a 25-minute drive from the city to the trailhead.
Imagine 360 degrees of unobstructed, pure Rocky Mountain views. If you’re about an hour from Denver near Sedalia, this doesn't have to just be a daydream. To experience the view at Devil’s Head Fire Lookout, take a mile-and-a-half-long trail from the Devil’s Head Campground before scaling the 143 steps to the actual fire lookout. Fitt tip: This trail is only open in the summer. If you’re up for camping, this makes a great full weekend adventure.
Trying to avoid the weekend warriors at other crowded state parks? Take a drive down I-25 and explore this Castle Rock hike. This park is especially convenient for South Denverites and worth it for anyone looking for a change of scenery from the Westside mountain trails. Enjoy a short hike to a waterfall and scenic views along the Cherry Creek Trail.
This trail is perfect to visit any time of the year, especially if you want something closer to the city. Portions of this trail are popular for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, and it even crosses a pumpkin patch in the fall. There's no worry of getting hangry after an exhausting hike since this trail loops through parts of Lafayette, Broomfield, and Louisville; there are plenty of places to stop for a snack or drink if you conquer the whole trail.
Part of the Jeffco Open Space system, Mount Falcon offers several trails and routes ranging from beginner to intermediate. You can really have it all at this park; there are stunning views of the Rockies and downtown Denver as well as historic ruins to check out along the way. This is an easy half hour drive from Downtown Denver, so be sure to check it out!
Hiking North Table Rock Mountain is like walking into your backyard…if your backyard were nothing but lush wilderness. Only about 20 minutes from the city, you’d be crazy not to visit the 15 miles of trail and wildlife atop a mesa. There is very little shade, so wear a hat to enjoy the terrain, wildflowers, and views from every angle. This mountain is also a popular spot for more challenging workouts, like rock climbing and mountain biking.
Take a scenic drive to Morrison, only 30 minutes from Denver, to explore Lair o’ the Bear Park. This park, filled with streams, valleys, and peaks, has something for everyone, and it's great for all levels. You can jet quickly up the mile-and-a-half Bear Creek Trail or opt for the lengthier 13-mile trail that will take you through three parks to the west. If you’re up for a challenge, the longer trail is worth it to avoid the crowds.
If you are short on time but need your nature fix, hop on the Green Mountain Trail in nearby William F. Hayden Park. You can bike, walk, hike, or run to enjoy the lake, city, and mountain views close to town. Because its location makes it drier than the foothill parks, this trail is a safe bet year-round if you want to avoid caking your boots with mud.
If you're an experienced hiker, the Golden Gate Canyon State Park is definitely your jam. Sleep in a yurt for only 80 dollars a night before tackling the trails in the morning. This park is a great option to hike year-round since the yurts are equipped with heaters. In addition to over 35 miles of spring and summer hiking trails, this is an excellent location to watch the aspens change color in the fall or snowshoe in the winter.
You're guaranteed to love the unreal views of St. Mary’s Lake, several Rockies peaks, and the year-round snowfield of St Mary’s Glacier Trail. The glacier is just about an hour outside of Denver in Idaho Springs. Although a shorter hike (1.5-mile loop), it is pretty rocky and often snowy, so the terrain calls for sturdy hiking shoes or boots. During the winter, keep this one in mind for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as well.
This trail in Waterton Canyon is perfect for hikers of all levels. It’s also a biking, horseback riding, and fishing wonderland. In and out is a little less than 13 miles. Don’t be surprised if you get to spot some wildlife; bring the binoculars for some close-ups of birds, and if you’re lucky, bighorn sheep!
Go rogue from your responsibilities with the Centennial Cone. These 12 miles will truly take you off the grid. It’s not uncommon to spot elk and other wildlife while venturing up this slightly more challenging trail. While some of the trail is in a flat meadow, the rockier portion is not for the faint of heart. Consider taking a picnic lunch for the halfway-point to refuel for the rest.
Explore a piece of Colorado history on this trail. It is a truly unique hike, with tons of mine shafts along the route – as the name suggests, it used to be a wagon trail used for miners. Buckle up for phenomenal views and exposures of the Front Range, as well as views of the remains of the Silver Creek mining town. If you’re looking for a full-day trip, you can explore a little bit of historic Georgetown while you’re at it.
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