So you’re looking for some amazing hikes around Denver? Then look no further – we have the perfect guide for you! We put together a list of our top ten favorite hikes around Denver, Colorado, so you don’t have to spend hours researching. These day hikes are no more than a 30-minute drive from the city center, so you are sure to find a hike that is suitable for your time scale. In this list, we offer a variety of hikes with varying landscapes and difficulties.
From the red rocks of South Valley Park to the amazing meadows near Evergreen, you are sure to find a hike that’s best for you. Denver offers some of the most fantastic views of mountains and countryside and is arguably one of the best places for hiking in all of the United States. Whether you are looking to do a day hike, or for some fun activities while out on a weekend-long camping trip, this guide has it all!
Below, we’ve also included a few tips for hiking around Denver to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable as possible. These tips will ensure that you and your group will be kept safe while out on the trail. It’s advised that you plan in advance to ensure that your hike goes as smoothly as possible, and take all the necessary precautions in terms of weather and maintaining your health.
Tips for Hiking Around Denver
Start Your Hike Early
Making a start on your hike early in the morning will ensure that you will never run out of time on the track, and be stuck coming back in darkness. It will also ensure that you have plenty of time to really take in the scenery around you, and even stop for some picture taking!
If you arrive at the start of the trail around 7 am, it will mean that you can beat the crowds and have a large part of the hike just to yourself and your group. On weekends and holidays, parking spots at the start of trailheads can be pretty limited, so arriving early will mean you will have no trouble finding a space to leave your car for the day.
Prepare for the Weather
Before you embark on your hike, ensure that you have researched the weather conditions for the day. There is nothing worse than having to cut a hike short because of terrible wet weather conditions. By making sure you know if the weather conditions are favorable for hiking, you reduce the risk of having an unsuccessful and unenjoyable hike.
Prepare for Altitude Sickness
A lot of hikes around Denver begin above 10,000 feet. You must ensure that you are appropriately equipped to deal with altitude sickness while out on the trail. Altitude sickness can be severe. At least, it will definitely ruin your day out. Ensure that you have packed enough water and snacks to counteract some of the symptoms. While out on the hike, if you’re feeling the symptoms of altitude sickness, it’s sometimes best to turn around to a lower altitude until you feel better. You can then begin to hike back up in altitude again slowly.
Create a plan for your hike
Creating a plan before you leave for your hike is the best way to ensure that you can enjoy the trip as much as possible. The last thing you want while out on a one day hike is to get lost in the wilderness for a few hours, trying to find your way back. Take screenshots of various points along the way, and even download a map that can be used for when you run out of service. Ensure that the rest of your group also has backup maps and plans with them in case anyone gets lost.
Bring a First Aid Kit
Even if you are just going on a day hike, accidents can happen. Having a first aid kit will put your mind at ease if an accident were to happen. Don’t forget to take any medications or equipment that you specifically need throughout the day, too.
Now that you have been given a few tips, here are our top ten hiking routes around Denver for you to choose from:
1. Bear Creek Trail, Beginning at Lair O The Bear
We’re starting with an easy hike. Bear Creek Trail is an excellent choice for beginner hikers, or those simply looking for an easy-going day out with the family. The total distance of this hike is 1.6 miles, so it won’t take too much time if time is your worry on the day. This choice is great for the entire family, and it’s even doable for young kids. Lair O The Bear park is also a beautiful park where you can take breaks and even have a picnic in the sun once you have finished your hike!
2. Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs)
The second hike on our list is the hike to the Garden of the Gods, which total distance is approximately four miles and is rated as an easy to moderate difficulty level. During this hike, you can visit the National Natural Landmark of Garden of the Gods – a beautiful red rock formation. The view of this is truly spectacular, especially on sunny, clear days. This hike is perfect for families as, even though it may be slightly longer in terms of distance than other hikes, the hiking difficulty is relatively easy. You can be assured that even the young members of the family will enjoy this.
3. Sleepy Lion
The Sleepy Lion trek starts from Button Rock Preserve and is approximately 5.4 miles in total. During this hike, you will be able to see a variety of scenes from mountain ranges to meadows. Near the end of the walk, you will arrive at the Ralph Price Reservoir, a fantastic lake that you can even fish in if you have a permit. This reservoir is the perfect resting spot for a picnic or refreshments after a long day of hiking. This is certainly a peaceful hike for many to enjoy.
4. Chasm Lake
Number four is definitely one of the most challenging hikes, so it’s not recommended for families with young children. The distance of this hike is around 8.4 miles, including the trip back to the start. As this hike is so difficult, many people don’t complete it. If you are a seasoned hiker, you may enjoy the challenge with this one! However, when you arrive at Chasm Lake, it will feel like all the effort and pain you experienced to get there is worth it.
The view from the lake is breathtaking. You will also have many opportunities to watch wildlife, from elk to mountain goats. Ensure that you check the weather conditions before you embark on this hike as it can be pretty cold, even in the summer!
5. Bergen Peak Hike
Number five is another challenging hike on our list. The total distance of Bergen Peak hike is approximately 9.2 miles, and we don’t recommend it for beginner hikers. The Bergen Peak hike is located near Evergreen, about a 35-minute drive from downtown Denver. This hike will provide you with incredible, panoramic views of the meadows and the mountain ranges.
6. East Plum Creek Trail
East Plum Creek Trail is a great choice for an enjoyable family day hike. Totaling 6 miles in distance, this particular hike is classified as an easy one, making it perfect if you have younger kids in your group. The hike runs around the town of Castle rock and offers great views of some beautiful meadows and mountains in the distance.
7. Mount Elbert
Number seven is another hike to add to your difficult list of choices. In total, it is roughly an 8-mile round trip. The Mount Elbert hike is just over 14,000 feet above sea level, so you need to be prepared for any altitude sickness while out on the trail. Mount Elbert is actually the highest mountain in all of Colorado, so it’s definitely a challenge! Getting to the top of this mountain will be worth it for the view. Make sure you start this hike early in the morning, giving yourself plenty of rest along the way.
8. Emerland Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Number eight on our list of favorite hikes in Denver is the Emerland Lake trail. This trail is around 3.5 miles in length and is classified as an easy to moderate hike. This makes Emerland Lake a great choice for those wishing to take a day hike with the entire family! Along the way, you can enjoy the scenery at Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. Once you reach around 1.8 miles into your journey, you will arrive at Emerland Lake, making the whole hike worth it. At the lake, you will be able to enjoy the view of the active Tyndall Glacier. This is the perfect spot to relax and have a picnic.
9. Mount Audubon, Indian Peaks Wilderness
Number 9 is a great option for a day hike with spectacular views. It’s a perfect alternative to Rocky Mountain National Park if you are looking for a hike with much fewer crowds. This particular hike starts within the forest, and then you will start to see the amazing views of the mountains. Before you embark on this hike, ensure that you have researched the weather conditions.
It’s common for there to be a lot of snow, even in the summer, and it can become potentially dangerous. Bring your snow boots! The last section of this hike will involve a lot of climbing over and descending large rocks and boulders, so be prepared for this. When you reach the end, you’ll be able to sit back and relax. You can enjoy the views of Longs Peak and all other mountain ranges in Rocky Mountain National Park.
10. Herman Gulch to Herman Lake
Last up on our list is one of the best in terms of the amount of scenery you can see in such a short space of time. The hike totals around 6.5 miles in distance and can get up to almost 12,000 feet above sea level at the summit, so prepare for some altitude sickness along the way. You will start at Herman Lake, at the base of Pettingell Peak. The hike to Herman Gulch is considered very easy and offers spectacular views. Make sure to start this hike early in the morning to avoid crowds!
One of the most amazing things about this hike is the incredible wildflowers that naturally grow throughout the trail. To see these flowers, try to hike in the summer. Most of the scenery on this hike will consist of large mountain ranges full of these colorful flowers. The Herman Gulch hike is one of the most relaxing hikes, with breathtaking views, that you can take throughout all of Denver. It is certainly a family favorite!
There you have it: our entire guide to hiking some of the most beautiful trails in all of Denver, Colorado. We are sure that you’ll have found your perfect hike after reading this article. Remember to follow our top tips to ensure that you can successfully complete your hike while making it as enjoyable as possible. Make sure you and your group are kept safe and well throughout the entire trip. No one wants to become ill or have an accident while out on these gorgeous hiking trails. Have fun on your day hike in Denver!