Incredible Hikes Near Denver for Any Ability

As a local of over 12 years, I get asked a lot about all of the amazing hikes near Denver. There are so many hikes to choose from located less than 2 hours from Denver, it was almost hard to narrow down this list!

So instead, I’ve decided to give you a wide range of the best hikes near Denver so you can pick and choose your favorite Denver hiking trail.

The Mile High City is well known for its outdoor lifestyle. However, many people are surprised to find that the best day hikes near Denver actually aren’t that close to downtown.

That’s okay because there are plenty of nearby areas that have plenty of Denver’s best hiking trails. All the trails listed in this guide are within an 2 hours of Denver.

Listen, I’ve scoured the state for the most amazing hikes near Denver. In fact, I’ve done over 100 hikes near Denver. I’m also paid to hike thanks to my professional experience as an outdoor writer.

Yeah, it’s kinda a dream job, but I’ve been writing for the outdoor industry for over half a decade. It’s my mission to get you out on the trails like a local, not a tourist.

Unlike other blogs and websites, this site is dedicated to giving you local hiking recommendations in Colorado so you can get outside with insider knowledge.

No I don’t want to lead you into a conga line of hikers. And yea, I want you to experience the best hikes near Denver in as much solitude as possible – just like the pros.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone hiking in Denver on some of the most popular trails and hardly seen any people. This exclusive know-how simply isn’t available anywhere else – I know I’ve looked.

This guide brings you in-depth knowledge to the most scenic hikes near Denver and how to beat the crowds at some of the most popular Denver hiking trails.

So lace up your boots, it’s time to hike!

About this Guide to Hikes Near Denver

This comprehensive look at the best day hikes near Denver is a labor of love. As a Denver local of over 12 years and an outdoor industry expert, I’ve created this comprehensive list of hikes just for you.

These hikes range in difficulty, elevation gain, and mileage. Some of them even make for excellent Colorado backpacking trips.

In this trail guide you’ll find:

Under each trail description, you’ll find information on difficulty, length, location, and any inside tips, as I’ve personally hiked each and every trail on this list. 

Where Can I Hike Near Denver?

If you’re new to Denver, then don’t fret, there are so many hikes near Denver, it’s almost overwhelming. This post is broken down by area, so you can plan your Denver hike based upon how far you want to travel to the trailhead.

There are a few must-visit places to hike near Denver. Here are a few must-visit Denver hiking areas that you should add to your bucket list:

  • Roxborough Stat Park: Red rocks and green valleys give you stunning Front Range Views. Best in April and May.
  • The Continental Divide along I-70. Closest mountain hikes near Denver. Great spots for sunset, but it can be windy so check the weather. Best in July and August.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Farther from Denver, but a stunning national park that features Denver-area hikes for all abilities. Best from July through October (exceptionally crowded July through mid-September).
  • Boulder. Easy access to a variety of hiking trails that feature tall rock features (the Flatirons), distant mountain views, and views towards Denver. Best in April, May, late September, and October.

Hikes 30 Minutes from Denver

Wanna get away but don’t want to drive for hours and hours? Check out this list of hikes 30 minutes from Denver. These actual trails (read, not loops in city parks) offer up some scenic views of the Front Range and the eastern plains.

1. Mount Galbraith Loop

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 928 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 18 miles, 30 minutes
Crowd Level: High. Generally quiet during the week.

This quick and easy day hike near Denver is perfect for a post-work hike. The way up Mount Galbraith offers plenty in the way of rocks and animals, including an awesome view of Golden – perfect for sunset.

Local Tip: If you’re looking to get in shape for hiking in the alpine, this loop is a great starter! You’ll find fewer crowds for sunset.

2. Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 675 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 18 miles, 30 minutes
Crowd Level:
Medium to high. Crazy on weekends, quiet during the week.

Another excellent hike less than 30 minutes from Denver, the Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail delivers awesome views (you can see the Continental Divide on a clear day).

It’s pretty straight forward and the trail actually goes along for quite a bit if you want to continue to work those legs. This is a great hiking trail near Denver to hit up in the winter months.

hikes near denver

3. North Table Mountain Via Rim Rock Loop

Distance: 8.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 18 miles, 30 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high

This trail up to the top of North Table Mountain is relatively easy aside from a moderate incline at the start.

The trail itself isn’t entirely interesting (aside from some views), but it’s a great spot to bring kids since the trail is wide and well kept. You can also easily make this trail as short or as long as you’d like.

Once you’ve reached the top of North Table Mountain, several options for loops exist. Just take note of where you popped up, since there are two trails leading back down.

Keep in mind it gets quite muddy here during the wet months.

4. Clear Creek Trail

Distance: 20.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 226 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 17 miles, 20 minutes
Crowd Level:
High to Very high, but paved and accessible.

An excellent option if you’re looking for a paved, accessible trail. This point-to-point jaunt can be picked up from multiple points between Golden and Commerce City.

However, the best spot is to park at the Grant Terry Trailhead (Clear Creek Canyon Park) and hike along Clear Creek in Golden. There are several little spur trails worth taking from Labyrinth to Windy Saddle and Magpie Gulch.

Local Tip: In the summer you can float Clear Creek from this area. Bring a tube, hike up-stream, and float to the Clear Creek RV Park. Small rapids are relatively easy to navigate with a big drop or two.

NOTE: This trail is currently closed and under construction until July 2021

Denver hikes
You can see the Clear Creek Trail down below.

5. Mt Falcon

Distance: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,601 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 19 miles, 30 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high

Known as Denver’s best hike for butt busting uphill training, Mt Falcon is a must-hike for anyone who wants to work on those glutes. This trail makes its way to the top of Mt Falcon and gives you sweeping views of Downtown Denver, Red Rocks, and the Foothills.

Local Tip: Watch out for rattlesnakes in the spring.

6. Green Mountain

Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 898 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 12 miles, 25 minutes
Crowd Level: High to very high. Weekday evenings or early mornings are best

This moderate hill climb offers sweet views and shady trails. Bring Fido or even opt to run Green Mountain for an easy weekday jaunt. As one of the best hikes near Denver, this place gets busy, but the trails fan out quickly so it’s not hard to have some solitude on a weekday evening.

I LOVE this trail for a spring season trail run. It’s got plenty of beautiful scenery and the view from the top is worth it. You can also add several spur trails to go even further.

Local Tip: In spring there are a LOT of rattlesnakes on the trail, especially in the mornings and evenings, so take care!

Hikes in Boulder

Boulder offers an array of some of the best hikes near Denver. Many of these Boulder hikes are within an hour from Denver, or right in Boulder.

These trails make their way towards interesting geographical features without heavy mileage, making the Boulder area a great hiking destination for those looking for a quick adventure.

7. Mount Sanitas Valley Loop

Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,256 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 30.8 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: High

An awesome training hike just a stone’s throw from Boulder. The climb to the top is pretty consistent, but it doesn’t have quite the incline as other hikes in Boulder. Keep in mind, this is a horse-friendly destination and they always have the right of way.

8. Flatirons Vista

Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 285 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 21 miles, 45 minutes with no traffic
Crowd Level: very crowded

The appeal is in the name. Come gaze at the enormos rock fingers that jutt out of the start of the Front Range along the Flatirons Vista. As one of the easier loops in the Chautauqua Park area, this is a must-do Denver hike.

This is a particularly beautiful trail in mid-May, when the hillsides are lush with greenery.

Local Tip: You can easily add on this loop to any of the Flatirons hikes to soak in even more scenery.

best hikes near Boulder, Colorado
Get sweeping views of the Flatirons in right near Boulder

9. First and Second Flat Iron

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,427 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 21 miles, 45 minutes with no traffic
Crowd Level: High

This is a great butt-buster for anyone who wants to get up-close and personal with Boulder’s greatest landmark.

There are several different paths you can take up towards the First and Second Flat Iron. Once you reach the forest, follow signs for the First Flat Iron.

Best day hikes near denver

10. Royal Arch

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,377 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 21 miles, 45 minutes with no traffic
Crowd Level: High

Start in the Chautauqua Park (Chautauqua Trail) area and follow the signs towards Royal Arch. Make your way up the staircase and hike on to reach a stunning arch. This trail gets crowded, so opt to go during the week or start early.

11. Sleepy Lion Trail

Distance: 25.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 921 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 51 miles, 1 hr 20 minutes
Crowd Level: medium to high

Located in nearby Lyons, the Sleepy Lion Trail is one of the best hikes near Denver if you’re looking to dip your toes in a cool creek. Take your pup for a quick dip (later in the season is safer) and enjoy wooded canyons, rocky outcrops, and sunny weather!

12. Chautauqua Trail

Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 419 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 21 miles, 45 minutes with no traffic
Crowd Level:
Very high

Another option for a grand view of Boulder’s mighty Flatirons, this more moderate loop gains a bit more elevation than the other nearby loops. You’ll also get that classic view of the Flatty’s, almost a right of passage for any Denver hiker.

You can easily add this trail to the Vista Trail for maximum views.

Local Tip: Come for sunset. It’s GORGEOUS!

Best Hikes Near Denver in Golden, Colorado

Golden is an outdoor lover’s paradise located just 20 minutes west of downtown Denver. Nestled at the base of the foothills, there’s plenty of Denver hiking trails to choose from.

Pro Tip: Golden and nearby Evergreen are home to plenty of uncrowded hikes near Denver. A win-win!

13. Centennial Cone

Distance: 8.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,368 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 34 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level:
Moderate

Looking for a challenging hike within 45 minutes from downtown? Check out the Centennial Cone Loop from Mayhem Gulch. This ancient volcanic cone delivers big on views of the Foothills. Consider hiking this trail in June or late September for exceptional scenery.

Local Tip: This area is prone to annual closures for hunting. So be sure to check current conditions before heading out.

14. Burro Trail Loop to Windy Peak

Distance: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,893 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 21 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: Medium to high

Located in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, this is one of my favorite Denver hiking trails for fall. It’s got enough elevation gain where you’ll feel challenged, but it isn’t too commanding.

Keep in mind that Colorado State Parks require a $5 entry fee unless you have an annual pass. There are a lot of other trails in the park worth a visit.

hiking trails near denver

Best Denver Hikes off of the 285

Highway 285 is the gateway to the mountains in south Denver. Although you are a ways from the Continental Divide, some of the best Denver hikes are located here.

Local Tip: Be sure to explore Staunton State Park and the Lost Creek Wilderness.

15. Ben Tyler Trail

Distance: 11.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,402 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 52 miles, 1 hr 15 minutes
Crowd Level: Moderate

The Lost Creek Wilderness was once a little-known slice of awesome offering some of the best Denver hikes. However, this area has grown in popularity over the years.

The Ben Tyler Trail offers some ass-kicking elevation gain in this stunning wilderness area. The difficulty keeps a lot of folks away, but if you’re up for a challenge, be sure to explore this gem.

16. McCurdy Mountain

Distance: 16.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,931 feet
Difficulty: very difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 88 miles, 2 hours
Crowd Level: Low

So I almost didn’t put McCurdy on the list, since most would prefer to backpack this route. However, the beauty of McCurdy lies in the fact that you don’t have to do the entire trail to see beautiful rock formations.

If you’re an expert hiker, this is one of the most challenging hikes in Colorado near Denver.

17. Waterton Canyon

Distance: 12.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 688 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: no dogs
Distance from Denver: 23 miles, 35 minutes
Crowd Level: High to very high

Also known as the official start to the Colorado Trail this super-famous route is known for an almost gaurunteed spotting of Big Horn Sheep. In fact, Waterton Canyon is so famous, they don’t allow dogs in the area.

It does get crowded (and very hot) in the summer, so aim to hit up this trail from fall through spring. The canyon comes to life with a roaring river and the lush greenery is a welcomed break from the dull brown scenery come springtime.

hikes near denver

18. Staunton Ranch and Bugling Elk Loop Trail

Distance: 8.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,574 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 41 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Crowd Level: High

Staunton State Park has some of the best hiking near Denver. It was difficult to choose just one hike in the park to highlight here – but I love the Bugling Elk Loop Trail for its awesome views and meandering landscape. It’s a great one in winter too – just be sure to bring traction, as the trail gets icy.

Know before you go. Here are a few handy resources for your next big Colorado hike:

best hikes near denver

Day Hikes Near Evergreen

Some of the best hiking near Denver can be found just 30 minutes outside of town in Evergreen, Colorado.

Evergreen captures the essence of the foothills. Rolling mountains sprinkled with rock and pine trees open up to wide valleys with spanning low-altitude vistas. Here’s a look at some of the best hiking trails near Evergreen.

19. Alderfer Three Sisters Trail

Distance: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 31 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: High. Come early in the morning (before 8 am) to avoid mountain bike traffic.

The Alderfer Three Sisters open space offers an endless array of hiking trails. This one is a classic trail that hits the highlights and brings you some sweeping views of the Three Sisters and other unique rock formations.

It’s easy to break it up into smaller chunks if you’re looking for something with lower miles. Enjoy beautiful views of the nearby foothills under the cover of the pines.

20. Evergreen Mountain Trail

Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 816 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 31 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: High

If you’re up for a quick summit, or training hike, climb to the top of Evergreen Mountain! The short mileage and moderate gains make this gem possible during the week. The view from the top is pretty top-notch.

Local Tip: If you’re planning to hit up one of Colorado’s best backpacking routes, add this to your list of training hikes near Denver.

21. Panorama Point Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 675 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 30.8 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level:
High. PSST…a sunrise in mid-September here brings solitude and pristine beauty.

If you’re looking for an amazing fall hike near Denver, then the Panorama Point Trail in Golden Gate State Park is for you. The Park has a $5 entrance fee but this trail is worth it. Head along the moderate incline as you slowly make your way to an unexpected view of a beautiful mountain valley.

Local Tip: After your hike, enjoy the main road through Golden Gate Park, it’s one of the best fall drives in Colorado and one of the most scenic drives near Denver.

22. Elk Meadow

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 593 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 28 miles, 40 minutes
Crowd Level: High. Generally lower in winter and early spring.

This is my go-to spot when I want to get the dog out but don’t have time for a full-blown epic. Meander the open space and enjoy the spanning meadow views. This hiking trail near Denver is great for wildflower season.

Local Tip: Add in Bergen Peak or other nearby loops to make this hike more challenging.

23. Bergen Peak

Distance: 8.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,768 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 28 miles, 40 minutes
Crowd Level: medium. Most people don’t opt to hike the peak.

If you want a bit more of a challenge, connect the Elk Meadow Trail to Bergen Peak. The result is added elevation gain (and bigger views) for a satisfying workout. This trail makes a great training hike for a Colorado 14er.

As one of the most beautiful winter hikes in Colorado, this is a great intro to winter summits too.

Incredible Denver Hikes Near I-70

Continue up I-70 past Evergreen to reach some high altitude day hikes near Denver. This bunch is a bit more committing than the other hikes on this list.

Be sure to be prepared for high-alpine conditions. If you do choose to summit a peak, pack properly for a mountain climb and be sure to follow these tips.

24. Herman and Watrous Gulch

Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,755 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 51 miles, 50 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high. Honestly, get here by 6 am to get ahead of throngs of crowds here. Or head to Watrous for far fewer people.

Just to be clear, Herman Gulch and Watrous Gulch are completely different hikes. Head to the Herman Gulch Trailhead and go left for Herman or opt to explore Watrous Gulch, its lesser-trafficked neighbor to the right.

Either hike is worthwhile and one of the best hikes near Denver thanks to the beautiful mountain scenery and wildflowers along thew ay.

Both trails are about the same in difficulty, the difference being that Herman Gulch is one of the most popular trails in the state – with good reason, it’s dramatic and beautiful.

If you’re looking for the best wildflower hikes in Colorado, you can’t go wrong with either trail and both have options to summit nearby peaks.

herman gulch trail

25. Mt Flora

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 675 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 56 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes
Crowd Level:
Medium to high on weekends, light during the week.

Located at the top of Berthoud Pass, Mt Flora is one of the best hikes for a first summit. It’s straight forward, relatively mellow, and delivers BIG on mountain views.

You’ll be able to see the Continental Divide along Jones Pass, the rugged Gore Range, and even the peaks of Rocky Mountain National park from here.

I love this hike for an early-season (think May) sunrise. The best part? You can do it on a weekday and be back at the office by 9 am.

26. Mayflower Gulch

Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 575 feet
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 84 miles, 2 hours
Crowd Level:
Very High

Okay, so this may be the furthest hike on the list, but it’s super-classic. Mayflower Gulch is one of the easiest and most scenic hikes near Denver. As one of the greatest wildflower hikes in Colorado, a summer visit is a must.

You’ll have to travel quite a ways, but once you’ve reached the parking lot, it’s a quick jaunt to an incredible mountain cirque. Soak in the drama and check out the old mining cabin.

Local Tip: This hike is excellent in both July and the winter. But keep in mind, it’s CROWDED. Get here by 7 am to beat the crowds.

mountain hikes near denver

27. Hell’s Hole

Distance: 9.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,916 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 43 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Crowd Level:
High. During the week, this trail sees very little traffic.

Hell’s Hole is a great secret trail near Denver that sees crowds during specific times of the year. Most people hike Hell’s Hole but give up rather quickly.

In the fall, there’s plenty of beautiful colors and during late spring, this is one of the first areas to dry out and be snow-free.

The meandering uphill grind through the trees gets a little boring, the view of the glacial cirque of Hell’s Hole is worth it – keep going!

28. Grays and Torrey’s Peak

Distance: 7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,582 feet
Difficulty: very difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes – if your dog doesn’t’ mind sharp rocks
Distance from Denver: 55 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high. This is one of the most popular 14ers and sees A LOT of crowds. Arrive before 5 am if you want a chance at parking at the trailhead, even during the week.

Summit two Colorado 14ers in one day along the burly trail to the top of Grays and Torreys Peak. Even though this duo is considered an “easier” Colorado 14er pair, it is anything but.

The elevation is demanding and you must take care to start your trip before sunrise in order to avoid bad weather.

However, there are no special skills required, and even the hike to the base of the mountains is stunning.

Check out the ultimate guide to hiking Colorado’s 14ers for more tips.

29. Cupid Peak and Grizzly Peak

Distance: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,631 feet
Difficulty: hard
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 61 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Crowd Level:
low

If you’re looking for an alternative to Mount Sniktau or the crowd-ridden Greys and Torrey’s Peaks, then Cupid and Grizzly is where it’s at. These peaks see little traffic and offer badass views of the surrounding mountains.

Cupid is mostly just a hump of a mountain, but afterward you’ll embark on a rocky switchback trail to the top of Grizzly Peak. Enjoy the spanning views of mountains in every direction. Can you spot the ones you’ve summited?

Local Tip: If you’re up for a sunrise summit in winter, these twin peaks see little avalanche danger and deliver BIG alpenglow.

30. Mount Sniktau

Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,530 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 61 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Crowd Level: moderate

Mount Sniktau is a great beginner summit or an awesome spot to watch the sun set over the Colorado Rockies. It also happens to be one of the best 13ers near Denver.

Since this trail is located right off of Loveland Pass, it is not only a great hiking trail near Denver, but it is also easily accessible.

If you would like a bit more of a challenge, consider hiking to the top of Grizzly Peak instead.

best 13ers near denver

31. Chicago Lakes Trail

Distance: 8.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,860 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 50 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes
Crowd Level: Medium to high. Most people don’t make it to Chicago Lakes and turn around after the steep downhill start.

Located off of the Mt Evans Scenic Byway (one of Colorado’s scenic drives), this hike starts out STEEP before leveling off for several miles. Then it climbs again to reach a picture-perfect alpine lake.

The start of this trail is typically packed, but it thins out the further you venture. The tough gains are well worth the effort and having a flat section in the middle of the hike makes it less of a suffer-fest than it looks. This is one of my favorite hikes in Colorado near Denver.

32. St Mary’s Glacier

Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 807 feet
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 44 miles, 50 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high
. Arrive before 8 am in order to park. There is a $5 parking fee.

You can’t go hiking near Denver and not see St Mary’s Glacier. It’s uber-classic and perfect throughout the year. As one of the easiest hikes in Colorado, you’ll get big views for little effort.

If you’re into things like mountaineering and backcountry skiing, St Mary’s is the preferred training ground. Practice your skills and enjoy a year-round snowfiled.

If you love sledding there are plenty of spots to whisk your way downhill here too. Just stay away from the backside of the lake (this is avalanche terrain and it slides regularly).

Local Tip: St Mary’s isn’t technically a glacier. Those actually don’t exist here in Colorado. It’s a permanent snowfield. So no crevasses or moving ice in this area.

hiking trails near denver

33. James Peak

Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,949 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 44 miles, 50 minutes
Crowd Level:
moderate once you leave St Marys.

If you’re ready for a lung-buster then top out at St Mary’s Glacier with a romp up James Peak. This easier summit has amazing views of the nearby Indian Peaks Wilderness.

It’s a real slog to the top (and expect snow, even in summer), but it’s a great summit to check off of your to-do list. A few very technical routes exist, and if that’s your thing then pick up the Colorado Snow Climbs Book.

Local Tip: This peak sees fierce winds year-round. Check weather reports before attempting.

Amazing Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the best hiking near Denver. Keep in mind that the park gets busy during the summer months, so a little pre-planning goes a long way. Also, dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails in the park.

For more amazing recommendations see the complete list of drool-worthy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

34. Emerald Lake and Dream Lake

Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 702 feet
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Dog-Friendly: no dogs allowed
Distance from Denver: 78 miles, 2 hours
Crowd Level:
Very high

As one of the most scenic lake hikes in Colorado, Emerald Lake and Dream Lake is a must-do hike. These easy hikes take you into the heart of the best scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Make your way to Dream Lake, an exceptional sunrise location, and watch the alpen glow light up the rugged cliffs of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.

Then make your way to the more exclusive Emerald Lake where the green hues of the water reflect an absolutely breathtaking scene.

Local Tip: This is the most popular hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want a chance of beating the crowds and finding parking (no matter what time of year), you’ll want to be at the trailhead before 6 am.

easy hikes near denver
As one of the easy hikes near Denver, Dream Lake really lives up to its name.

35. Sky Pond

Distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,765 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: no
Distance from Denver: 77 miles, 1 hour 55 minutes
Crowd Level: High

Arguably the most iconic day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Sky Pond hike has it all. Gentle pine forest walking, steep inclines (you’ll climb a waterfall), and – of course – lots of alpine lakes!

Plenty of elevation gain, waterfalls, and an unbeatable view of one of Colorado’s best alpine lakes. The surrounding peaks bring a special drama to the place.

36. Loch Lake Trail

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,072 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: no
Distance from Denver: 77 miles, 1 hour 55 minutes
Crowd Level: High

Unlike its cousins at the Bear Lake Trailhead, Loch Lake has a bit more breathing room than Lake Haiyaha and a little less challenge than Sky Pond. The Loch is one of my absolute favorite places to have a trailside picnic in Rocky Mountain National Park. The views are scenic and the trail isn’t too difficult.

Located at the same trailhead as Sky Pond you can opt to carry onwards towards the lake in the sky or spend your time enjoying Lock Lake instead.

37. Lake Haiyaha

Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 864 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dog-Friendly: no
Distance from Denver: 78 miles, 2 hours
Crowd Level: High

One of my favorite day hikes near Denver is Lake Haiyaha. This 3.6-mile trail passes by Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake. So you’ll get quadruple the lake action along this uber-awesome hike near Denver.

It’s a great winter snowshoe (just be cautious of a bit of avalanche terrain) and an excellent spot for sunrise.

The Bear Lake Parking Lot in Rocky Mountain National Park fills up fast, especially in summer, so get there early unless you want to take the shuttle.

best hikes near denver

38. Chasm Lake

Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,601 feet
Difficulty: Difficult
Dog-Friendly: No dogs
Distance from Denver: 70 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
Crowd Level: High. The Long’s Peak Trailhead fills up by 3 am on weekends.

Chasm Lake takes you to deep into the alpine to a lake situated at the base of the second largest (and highest) granite rock wall in America. Knonw as the Diamond, climbers from all over the world come here to try their luck at one of the difficult, roped routes to the top of Long’s Peak.

Hike to Chasm Lake if you aren’t ready for Long’s Peak and get up-close and personal with one of America’s most famous peaks.

39. Long’s Peak

Distance: 14.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,039 feet
Difficulty: Very difficult
Dog-Friendly: No dogs
Distance from Denver: 70 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
Crowd Level:
High

As one of the closets 14ers in Colorado, many people set their eyes on the Keyhole Route up Long’s Peak. It’s uber-iconic and packed with history, but be prepared – this journey takes up most of a day and requires a helmet.

The Class 3 route is the standard way to the top and is extremely crowded. Do your homework and research the route. Only attempt this hike on a clear-weather day and plan on starting at 2 am for a safer ascent.

If you’re looking for a different way to the top and have a little mulit-pitch climbing experience, the Cables Route on Long’s Peak takes about 2.5 miles off of the journey and sees a fraction of the crowds.

best hikes near denver

Morrison Area Hikes

Right at the base of the mountains near I-70 there are a variety of hikes near Denver. The town of Morrison has a few staples worth exploring if you don’t want to climb into the mountains.

40. Mount Morrison

Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,873 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes – but some rock hopping is required
Distance from Denver: 18 miles, 35 minutes
Crowd Level: Moderate to high.

Mount Morrison offers a great spot to train for bigger hikes and 14ers. The hike itself pretty much continues to climb uphill until you reach a small section where you’ll need your hands.

The danger of falling isn’t great, but if you’re new to scrambling, this is a great spot to learn. The hike tops out with awesome views of Denver and if you’re lucky, you can spot the snow-capped peaks of the Continental Divide in the distance.

Local Tip: if you’re training, load up a heavy pack and hit this one hard!

Best Denver Hikes

41. Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 357 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 17miles, 35 minutes
Crowd Level: High

Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of Colorado’s favorite landmarks. But did you know there are hiking trails near Denver located right near Red Rocks?

If you want a simple, flat hiking experience (somewhat rare in the Rocky Mountain State), check out Red Rocks. This family-friendly trail is perfect for small children.

Southern Day Hikes Near Denver

Head towards Castle Rock for a more desert-plains feel. Hikes in these foothills give you great views without boatloads of burly elevation gain. Areas south of Denver are well-knonw for canyons, red rocks, and interesting rock spires..

42. Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop

Distance: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 534 feet
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 23 miles, 35 minutes
Crowd Level:
moderate

Some of the best hikes near Denver can be found in these smaller parks south of town. Meadow Lark Plymouth Creek in Deer Creek Canyon Park is no exception.

You’ll get beautiful views of red rock mesas and plenty of that blue Colorado sky, then Meadowlark is calling your name. This trail is generally forested with a few peeping views.

43. Devil’s Head

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 885 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 44 miles, 1 hour 35 minutes
Crowd Level: Very high

Hike up to the Devil’s Head Fire Tower in the Rampart Range. This moderate hike boasts stellar views – on a clear day you can see all the way to Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.

The trail keeps a pretty moderate incline the whole way, with plenty of room to pass. Eventually, you’ll reach a lookout that gives you a sense of just how vast thhe foothills are.

Local Tip: Access to Devil’s Head closes seasonally. Sometimes it’s a start-stop sequence with the opening and closing of this area. If you plan to hike in fall or spring, check if the road is open before you head out.

denver hiking trails

44. Rim Rock Trail to Creek Trail Loop

Distance: 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 37 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: Medium

Castlewood Canyon State Park offers some canyon exploration and hiking near Denver. This short loop is perfect if you want to explore the stream and canyon rim.

The views down the canyon are quite spectacular, look for hawks riding the thermals. $5 entry fee to the park.

45. Garden of the Gods Loop

Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 777 feet
Difficulty: easy
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 68 miles, 1 hour 25 minutes
Crowd Level:
Very high

Another iconic hiking trail near Denver, Garden of the Gods is Loop is arguably one of the best hikes in Colorado Springs too.

Garden of the Gods is one of the top things to see in Colorado, so don’t ever expect to have this place to yourself.

However, there is a reson it’s so popular – it’s jaw-dropping.

Hike the loop for easy romp through this mesmerizing red rock garden.

Local Tip: This place is accessible and family-friendly. You can easily add or subtract to this hike to fit your needs.

One of the best things to do in Colorado is go hiking. These are the best hiking trails in Colorado according to a local. Explore the most scenic spots in Colorado along these amazing hikes. This list includes hikes near Denver, Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Great Sand Dunes National Park and more. Get amazing hiking recommendations for your vacation to Colorado. #hiking #colorado #outdoors
All of the trails in Garden of the Gods are some of the best easy hikes near Denver.

46. Manitou Incline

Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 675 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: no dogs.
Distance from Denver: 77 miles, 1 hour 35 minutes
Crowd Level:
Very high

The Incline Trail features over 2,000 steps. Many people hit up this Denver-area hiking trail to try their luck to make it to the top.

The route is a series of stairs up an un-shaded hillside. It’s also stuffed with people (boo).

It’s quite crowded, and in my opinion a little over-rated, but if you like a good challenge and want to check out one of the most popular hikes near Denver then this is it.

Although I wouldn’t personally recommend it – it’s an area classic. But you’ll need to make a reservation in advance and pay a $10 parking fee.

47. Roxborough State Park

Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 777 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: No
Distance from Denver: 35 miles, 45 minutes
Crowd Level: High. Get here before 8 am if you want a chance at getting in the gate. They cap the visitors and it’s not uncommon to wait in a line to get in.

Roxborough State Park offers some excellent terrain for hiking. Most of the trails here are either easy or moderate and all of them offer amazing views, especially in early summer when the green grass contrasts against beautiful red rock formations.

There are several trails worth linking to create your own hiking route based on your ability and mileage. The South Rim to Willow Creek to Fountain Valley Loop offers a bird’s-eye view of the park.

The trail itself winds its way around the park giving you access to some incredible red-rock vistas. Since Roxborough is a state park, there is a $5 entry into the park and during nice days, the park does fill up, so get here early.

best hikes near denver

Hikes Near Denver in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Located just west of Boulder, Indian Peaks Wilderness boasts some of the best hikes in Colorado near Denver, without the traffic of I-70.

However, everyone knows this, so don’t expect to find solitude here. Regardless, it’s a beautiful spot for hiking among classic Colorado scenery.

48. Lost Lake Via Hessie Trail

Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 869 feet
Difficulty: easy/moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 50 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Crowd Level: High. You’ll want to get here before 7 am on weekends to get parking. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a shuttle from Nederland or Boulder.

It’s easy to see why this trail sees so much traffic. it’s a beautiful trail with plenty of wildflowers but doesn’t take too much effort. Opt to start early to beat the weekend rush. Bring a tasty snack or lunch to enjoy the epic beauty of Indian Peaks Wilderness.

49. Arapaho Pass

Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,758 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 54 miles, 1 hour 35 minutes
Crowd Level:
High. The trailhead is closed during winter. Usually, it’s open from late May through November.

I visit the 4th of July Trailhead at least once a year. There are so many amazing hikes in this area it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best hikes near Denver.

Check out Arapaho Pass for incredible mountain views in every direction.

What’s so awesome about this trail, is that it takes about 20 minutes to get epic high-alpine scenery. And that scenery just gets better the further along you go.

Local Tip: you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to reach the trailhead. Parking is super-strict and the trailhead will fill up by 7 am on a weekend. Plan accordingly.

denver area hikes

50. Cascade Creek to Mirror Lake

Distance: 14.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,375 feet
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 103 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes
Crowd Level: Moderate to high. The distance keeps most people from making it to the end.

This is the furthest day hike from Denver on the list. However, it’s one of best hikes in Colorado. The hike itself isn’t hard, but it’s long. I would certainly recommend obtaining backpacking permits for this area – it’s that drop-dead gorgeous.

However, if you’re short on time and an able hiker, opt to start this hike right before sunrise. Lone Eagle Peak reflects perfectly off of Mirror Lake in the morning light.

hiking trails near denver

51. Lake Isabelle Trail

Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,030 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 54 miles, 1 hour 39 minutes
Crowd Level: Moderate to High

Lake Isabelle is a beautiful alpine lake situated among a few dramatic peaks with permanent snowfields. Many people flock to this trail throughout the year to see the snow and wildflowers, but I love it for winter endevours.

Remember, the lake is technically privately owned, so it gets drained once a year. Keep an eye on conditions and visit before they drain it out at the end of summer.

The winter trail adds an additional three miles to what’s listed here. Despite this, Lake Isabelle is a fantastic day hike near Denver perfect for any season.

Local Tip: it’s a $12 fee to access Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

52. Mt Audobon

Distance: 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,670 feet
Difficulty: difficult
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Distance from Denver: 54 miles, 1 hour 39 minutes
Crowd Level:
Moderate

Located within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area ($12 fee) this popular 13er gives you a bird’s eye view of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

As a stunning summer summit or a challenging winter peak, Mt Audobon is a classic Colorado 13er.

Be warned – the hike is a real slog, but a lot of people like a constant, up hill butt-buster so who am I to judge?

Hiking Resources for the Best Hikes Near Denver

When it comes to hiking near the Mile High City, there are endless hiking trails near Denver. In fact, some of the best hikes in Colorado are right near Denver (hurray!).

Sometimes it’s tough to know where to start! If you’re new to hiking, definitely check out my ultimate guide to hiking for beginners before you hit the trail.

Additionally, if you’re nervous about being in the elements, pick a hike with low mileage closer to town.

Wanna find your own hike? Check out the guide to finding hiking trails near you.

Most of the hikes listed here require a moderate level of fitness, but don’t let that stop you from getting out there going for it!

You don’t have to start on an easy trail if you feel you’re up for a challenge. Simply remember to be prepared, Leave No Trace, and acclimatize properly if you aren’t used to the thin air in Denver.

How to Beat the Crowds on the Best Hikes Near Denver

You may have noticed that many of these hiking trails are flagged as high-traffick areas. That’s because Denver and the metro area is huge – many people get out on the weekends.

Hiking has become even more popular since the pandemic so be prepared.

The best way to beat the crowds at any of the Denver hiking trails is to simply get there earlier than everyone.

Hands-down it will work any time. Any of these hikes for sunrise will see a fraction of the regular traffic. Not to mention you won’t have to compete with parking.

For hikes within 30 minutes from Denver going during the week in the middle of the day can be a quiet time to visit. Or opt to go for sunset during the week too.

What to Know About Hiking Near Denver

Before you hit the trail, it’s important to understand that hiking in Colorado requires a few special skills. First, you want to be properly acclimatized and adjusted to the higher altitude (this goes for locals too). Even as a local Coloradan of over 11 years, I still sometimes have trouble with high altitude hiking.

Watch the Weather

Also, be sure to pay attention to the weather. The last thing you want is to get zapped by lightning (eek!).

The best way to avoid storms is to start early, I’m talking 6 am at the trailhead early for a long hike. Plan your route so that you’re below treeline no later than 11 am.

Local tip: Colorado’s hiking trails get uber crowded in the summer, avoid the conga line and bad weather with an early start. 

Here in Colorado, the weather can change on a dime, and when you’re hiking in the mountains, you might not see what’s coming, since the mountains block the view.

Remember, Colorado storms typically move in from the west (sometimes northwest, and sometimes southwest). Be alert when hiking and note your position. 

This extensive list of the best day hikes near Denver offers perfect hiking experiences for any tastes or abilities. Get out there and hike these fantastic trails this season!

Responsible Hiking Near Denver

With hiking becoming one of the best things to do in Denver, more and more people are hitting the trails.

This means that the human impact on these places has skyrocketed.

I’ll put it simply – your mom doesn’t live here and no one is picking up after you. Locals are absolutely sick and tired of watching people trash our backyards (yes, this includes fellow locals who don’t know any better).

Pack a small baggy for your personal trash. Use a small ziplock baggy and pack out all used toilet pper.

NEVER leave dog poop or dog poop bags on the trail. Even if you plan to pick it up later.

Tie the dam poop bag to your pack and continue walking.

If you can’t handle these simple rules, then stay home until you’re ready to get out and hike. responsibly.

How to Pack a Hike Near Denver

Heading out on a hike? Don’t forget your hiking checklist if you want to stay organized. Here’s what you’ll need to enjoy one of the many hikes near Denver:

  • Light jacket for Denver hikes, a puffy layer for hikes in the mountains
  • water bottle or water bladder with at least 2 liters
  • snacks
  • trash baggy for trash
  • dog poop bags
  • dog leash
  • Beanie, Gloves, and a Buff
  • Wind/Rain jacket – even if the skies look clear the weather changes on a dime
  • headlamp with extra batteries
  • GPS device
  • Comfortable hiking shoes. Waterproof boots or shoes in the winter and spring.
  • small first aid kit
  • hiking pack
  • Hiking poles (optional but highly recommended for hikes with steep inclines)

How Many Hiking Trails are in Denver?

Many. And more get added each year as state parks and open-space areas expand their development. To be honest with you, I probably can’t count that high!

The best way to really enjoy all of the hikes near Denver is to get out and start exploring. Find an area you like? Pick up a map (or snap a photo at the trailhead) and start red lining hikes. This means hiking all of the trails in a particular area. It’s a great way to visit the places you enjoy the most and never have the same experience twice.

Want more outside time in Colorado? Check out these posts

Best hiking trails near Denver, Colorado. A complete list of day hikes near Denver. Hiking trails for all abilities near Denver, Colorado separated by region. Denver's best hikes. #hiking #outdoors #denvertravel #nationalparks #coloradotravel #travel
Best hiking trails near Denver, Colorado. A complete list of day hikes near Denver. Hiking trails for all abilities near Denver, Colorado separated by region. Denver's best hikes. #hiking #outdoors #denvertravel #nationalparks #coloradotravel #travel

Hi There!

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure. She'd rather be dirty than done up.