Hiking Trails in Colorado
Colorado is home to SO many hiking trails, from the Rocky Mountains down to the San Juan National Forest. You are bound to find one to please your hiking bug. This list however doesn’t even begin to list ALL the amazing hikes Colorado has to offer; not to mention there are nearly 60 14ers that should most definitely be added to your list.
Pro Tip: Use leave no trace practices (pack out everything you pack in!)
Pro Tip: Opting for reusable items rather than single use will help improve these practices as well as reducing your carbon footprint in the process. Our reusable food wraps and our reusable coffee filters are great alternatives to single-use products. We have a whole blog on zero-waste camping with more information.
Maroon Bells: Aspen
From Denver, Aspen is about a 4-hour drive from Denver. You can hike, camp and backpack to see it’s iconic mountain views, lakes, tundra, aspens, and wildlife like moose, beavers, and elk. There are five main trails here, ranging from 1 to 13 miles round trip. Here are three:
Scenic Loop Trail: A short 3-mile lollipop loop
Maroon Creek Trail: There are two trailheads here; one is 2.5 miles and the other is 3.5 miles. This route tends to be a little less crowded.
Crater Lake: This hike is around 3.5 miles, and is a moderate trail used best for hiking in warmer months, and great for viewing meadows and forests of glistening aspens.
Pro Tip: Camping is prohibited due to poor camping practices, in order to keep human and canine impact to a minimum.
Manitou Incline: Colorado Springs
In Southern Colorado, you can experience one of the shortest, but steepest hikes in Colorado. While it’s less than a mile, it has an extremely steep elevation gain of 2000 feet; only a mere 2768 steps ;). It was originally built as a cable car to carry materials up to build pipelines, but after the project was completed, it was turned into what we are now able to adventure through today. Downhill use of the incline is discouraged. Instead, you can hike down the bottom 4 miles of the Barr Trail instead.
Pro Tip: Bring plenty of water and snacks
Fun Fact: Record time to make it up the incline sits at 17 minutes, 45 seconds.
St Mary’s Glacier: Idaho Springs
Off I-70 near Idaho Springs you can find a beginner, 1.5-mile round trip hike. St. Mary’s glacier is unique in the fact that is has a beautiful glacier at the top above the lake year-round. This hike is filled with forest, a glacier, a lake, mountain range views and snow. Because of the snow year-round, you can snowboard and snowshoe in addition to hiking or mountain biking.
Sky Pond: Rocky Mountain National Park
A more difficult hike is Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can find amazing lakes, wildflowers, and a waterfall on this 9-mile round trip trek in between Granby and Estes Park. In addition to hiking, you can capture the essence of the area on a camera or simply for your memory, and you can fish as well.
You can begin your ascent to sky pond at Glacier Gorge Trailhead or at Bear Lake Trailhead. The first lake you will come across is Lake of Glass, and you can go another quarter mile and you will reach sky pond, which is double to size of Lake of Glass
Pro Tip: Maybe stop at Alberta Falls on your way up for a spectacular view!
Starting at Long Lake Trailhead, you can take the 4.4-mile round trip to Lake Isabelle. In the morning hours, you might catch a nice view of Long Lake, Niwot Ridge and snow-capped mountain peaks. It’s located in Roosevelt National Forest, but you may hit the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary.
Pro Tip: This can be prime moose spotting territory, so be on the lookout, and make sure to stay your distance from any wildlife you might spot.
Ice Lake Basin
The trail begins from the dirt parking lot across from South Mineral Campground; from the trailhead it is 2 miles to the lower ice lake and 7 miles to the upper basin. On your adventure you may see forests, alpine meadows, alpine tundra, mountain lakes, mountain peaks and waterfalls. If you’re up for more adventure, you can add an additional trail to Island Lake or Fuller Lake.
Fun Fact: Ice Lake is an ice blue color and sits under US Grant Peak
Eldorado Canyon: Eldorado Springs
Eldorado Springs is a quick 20-minute drive from Boulder and 45 minutes from Denver and has a variety of trails and things to do while here – it’s extremely kid-friendly; your kiddos will love the shallow area of Boulder Creek. If you’re wanting to explore further and hit the trails, there are four different trails ranging from half a mile to 3.5 miles one way. The Streamside Trail follows closely along the creek and is half a mile each way. A little longer at .7 miles one way is Fowler Trail for great views of the canyon. Rattlesnake Gulch Trail takes you up to the ruins of the Crags Hotel, which burned down in 1912. Eldorado Canyon Trail is 3.5 miles one way, and it will eventually intersect with Walker Ranch Loop Trail. You can experience the views of the canyon, the cascades, cliffs by hiking, horseback, mountain bike or rock climbing.
Pro Tip: No camping is allowed at Eldorado Canyon State Park.
Pro Tip: Eldorado Canyon can get extremely busy—especially when it comes to climbing so opting to go on a weekday might give you more freedom to explore.
Crater Lake via Mirror Lake: Grand Lake
In the midst of Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Grand Lake, Colorado is the beauty of Crater Lake and Mirror Lake. This is a 15-mile round-trip hike that may take you approximately 7 to 8 hours to complete. You can experience waterfalls and lakes galore here. If you start at Monarch Lake Trailhead (another beautiful lake and hike!) and remain on Cascade Creek Trail you will reach Mirror Lake. About a quarter mile past Mirror Lake, you will reach Crater Lake.
Chasm Lake: Estes Park
Near Estes Park, is a shorter 2.8-mile round trip hike to gorgeous lake views. You will want to start at either the Endovalley Picnic Area or the West Alluvial Parking Area. Here you can picnic, hike, snowshoe, horseback ride or even camp. In the winter this can be a great snowshoe hike! On this hike you may get to experience wildlife like big horn sheep, deer, moose, bears and even more.
Pro Tip: Especially with bears in the area, be cautious of how you store your food if you choose to camp.
Ouzel Falls via Wild Basin Trail: Allenspark
If you’re up for a longer hiker – 9.8-miles round trip to be exact, you can opt for Wild Basin Trail to Ouzel Falls. This is a great fly-fishing destination in addition to hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing and back country camping.
Pro Tip: You will need a permit to fish in the lake, so come prepared.
This trail begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead near Allenspark. It sits creekside and on your way you will hit Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. If you reach the falls and are in for more adventure, you’re in luck! Past the falls there is a trail that leads to Ouzel Lake.
Pro Tip: The lake is very marshy, more trees and marshland are the perfect combo for mosquitos, so you may want to pack bug spray.
Butler Gulch Trail: Empire, Colorado
Right off I-70 and US 40, is the small town of Empire, Colorado. Near here, you can find a very steep inclined 5.5-mile trail. Due to the steep nature of this hike, hiking poles might become your new best friend (look out Tippet, you might have some competition). This hike can be taken in both the summer and the winter; not only can you hike, but you can also cross-country ski or snowshoe! This trail is somewhat shaded and runs along a creek – it turns into a waterfall along the way as well. If you want to add more, there is a lollipop loop that is about 6.5 miles
Pro Tip: Dogs are prohibited in Rocky Mountain National Park, so make sure you are aware of rules before entering the National Park.