12 Amazingly Colorful Wildflower Hikes in Colorado That You’ll Never Forget

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by foxintheforest

June through mid-August bring a rainbow of colors to the high alpine landscapes of Colorado. The best way to experience the blooms is to head out on one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado.

One of the most amazing things about Colorado’s wildflower hikes is you can come back to the same trail a few weeks later, and see completely new colors. From the blues and purples of the Columbines (Colorado’s state flower) to the vibrant swaths of reds and oranges that mark the Indian Paintbrush blooms wildflower season is one of the best times to hike in Colorado.

These incredible trails feature miles of sweeping alpine valleys. Bursting with all of the colors of the rainbow, you can’t miss these amazing wildflower hikes in Colorado.

After experiencing 12 seasons of exploring the best wildflower hikes in Colorado, I know exactly where you need to go to experience the best blooms. In fact, as a hiking pro (literally, I still can’t believe I get paid to write about hiking for big-name brands like REI) it’s my mission to get you out on the best wildflower hikes in Colorado like a local, not a tourist.

About this Guide to the Mindblowing Wildflower Hikes in Colorado

When it comes to getting the most out of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado, I’ve got you covered. Inside this exclusive, local guide you’ll find:

  • The best time to experience wildflower blooms in Colorado
  • Incredible wildflower hikes near Denver
  • Wildflower hikes in Summit County you can’t miss
  • Amazing wildflower hikes in the San Juans
  • Hikes in the Sangre de Cristos
  • Incredible wildflower hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Tips for beating the crowds, and practical info for each hike
  • Additional planning resources
wildflower hikes colorado

When Do the Wildflowers Bloom in Colorado?

Like all things in nature, the wildflower season in Colorado varies from year to year. In general, you’ll find the best time to experience the explosions of color is from mid-June through early August. 

Wetter years typically see longer bloom cycles. Heavy snowfall years may push peak season well into mid-July. Your best bet is to head out on a wildflower hike during peak summer months.

Unfortunately, this is also the most popular time to hike. And this list of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado surely includes some extraordinarily crowded trails.

The best way to beat the crowds while hiking in Colorado is to simply start earlier than everyone else. This means arriving at the trailhead by 7 am or even as early as 5 am for some of the most crowded trails.

Okay, so a pre-dawn alarm may not be your favorite thing, but I promise you there’s nothing quite like hiking amongst the wildflowers as the sun rises in the heart of the mountains. 

You’ll quickly forget how early you woke up and instead enjoy a breathtaking scene without the crowds.

Local Tip: DO NOT PICK THE WILDFLOWERS! They take years to grow old enough to bloom, and picking these precious jewels harms the environment. Also, walking through the dense fields of flowers off-trail is a HUGE no-no. Stick to the trails and leave it better than you found it.

2023 Colorado Wildflower Season Update

This year the wildflower season is seeing a bit of a delay due to tons of moisture. I scout trails every year for blooms and I would estimate that we are about 2-3 weeks behind with blooms.

It’s here!!! I recently did a 3 peak loop around Guanella Pass (7/13) and the colors were POPPING! From the low elevations to the upper tundra.

Some areas (looking at you Gore Rang and Maroon Bells) are still quite snowy, but blooms are showing up where the ground has been dry for a while.

Right now you can still spot some color below 10,500 feet. So look for blooms in meadows throughout Golden, Evergreen, and Boulder. They are abundant compared to years past! Flatirons Vista has quite a few fields of yellow in the distance.

Best Wildflower Hikes in the Front Range

The Front Range has plenty of awesome hikes near Denver that deliver big on wildflowers. But be aware, wildflower hiking is one of the best Colorado activities, so expect to share the trail on these iconic hikes.

1. Fourth of July Mine via Arapaho Pass

Fourth of July Trailhead is full of amazing hikes, including some of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado. The trailhead is aptly named because July is actually the perfect time to hit the trail here to see the wildflowers. 

You’ll also get the chance to cross a small waterfall on the way to the Fourth of July mine. Once you reach the mine, you can head back to enjoy the wildflowers again on the return hike, or you can continue on the entire Arapaho Pass hike if you want some amazing alpine views, too.

  • Distance: 4.1 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,131 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash
wildflower hikes in colorado

2. Herman Gulch

Herman Gulch is always an amazing hike, but when the wildflowers are in bloom it’s even more beautiful. Located in the Arapaho National Forest, this hike is a great 13er near Denver (which also makes it super popular and crowded). Mountain views, abundant wildflowers, and an alpine lake at the end all add up to what is truly one of the best hikes in Colorado.

Local Tip: This hike is UBER popular and well-known Colorado wildflower hike. Start by 7 am to get ahead of the crowds and have some solitude. 

  • Distance: 6.6 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,781 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

3. Devil’s Thumb

This hike will make you work for the wildflowers, but it’s absolutely worth it! Devil’s Thumb is a steep six miles to the top, with incredible views of the Continental Divide. Take a breather in the alpine meadows which showcase lovely bluebells and columbine and will make you forget about your sore quads.

  • Distance: 12.1 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,467 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 7-8 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

4. Lone Eagle Peak via Mirror Lake and Cascade Creek

The trail to Lone Eagle Peak is long, but well worth it. You’ll pass through several gorgeous alpine valleys that feature brilliant blooms. If you’re keen to enjoy one of the best backpacking trips in Colorado, you can snag a permit (several months in advance) and spend the night here at one of the few backcountry campsites. 

However, avid hikers can certainly enjoy this long hike as a day trip.

Psst. Don’t forget to check out some of the most scenic Colorado mountain towns – Granby on your way out!

  • Miles: 14.3 round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,244 feet. Elevation gain is rather steady and sometimes comes in bursts
  • Difficulty: Moderate, but long.
  • Dog-Friendly?: Yes, but your dog must be kept on a leash.
  • Time: This hike takes between 7 to 8 hours round trip. Also a great option for an overnight.
wildflower hikes near denver

Best Wildflower Hikes in Summit County

Summit County might just be the best place for wildflower hikes in Colorado. Countless trails bring you the best in lush mountain meadows. These are the top hikes near Breckenridge and beyond that feature beautiful blooms.

5. Gold Hill

Gold Hill is a great trail near Frisco. It passes through an evergreen forest and clear-cut areas in the lodgepole pines. Climbing the hill will provide you with excellent views of the Tenmile Range as well the Upper Blue River Valley, where you will see plenty of wildflowers. The trail connects to several other trails, including the Peaks Trail and the Colorado Trail, if you want the option to extend your hike.

  • Distance: 2.9 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 534 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

6. Mayflower Gulch

With the word “flower” right there in the name, you know this has to be one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado! This hike features plenty of blooms in a rainbow of colors from blue to red to gold. 

The mountain views make a picture-perfect backdrop to the colorful meadow, and you’ll discover some old mining ruins, too. Mayflower Gulch is definitely one of the must-do hikes near Vail!

Local Tip: This is another uber-crowded trailhead. Get here by 6 am to beat the crowds and enjoy the stunning views of this wildly dramatic mountain cirque.

  • Distance: 4.6 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,141 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

7. Willow Lakes

Work for your wildflowers with the challenging Willow Lakes hike. Located near Silverthorne, this trail takes you through the Eagles Nest Wilderness in the Gore Range. The breathtaking views of the alpine lakes framed by mountain peaks are even more incredible when the wildflowers are in bloom on the banks of the lake. 

Willow Lakes can be done as a day hike, but it’s even better as a backpacking trip (one of the top Colorado backpacking routes), where you can take your time to stop and smell the flowers.

  • Distance: 11.9 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,716 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 7-8 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

8. Gore Lake

Gore Lake is an absolutely stunning hike nestled deep in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. It feels very remote out in the Gores, so this is a perfect hike if you want to avoid typical Colorado crowds. Savor the solitude by backpacking to Gore Lake and camping by the lake, which looks like a scene from a fairytale when the wildflowers are in bloom.

  • Distance: 12.5 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,890 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 6-7 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

9. West Ridge of Quandary Peak

Quandary Peak is usually considered one of the easy 14ers in Colorado, but that’s on the standard East Ridge trail (permit required). If you head up the West Ridge instead (no permit), you’ll be rewarded with awesome views of Blue Lake as well as a basin filled with wildflowers. But be aware that this is a more technical trail requiring a helmet, and some exposed scrambling is required to reach the summit.

Local Tip: Not up for the challenging ridgeline? The first few miles of this hike climb up the hill near Blue Lake and end at a beautiful waterfall with several ponds and colorful blooms. Just stop before you reach the rocky ridge. As one of the best lake hikes in Colorado, you don’t want to miss this hike.

  • Distance: 3.4-mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours
  • Dog Friendly: No

Best Wildflower Hikes in the San Juans

You really can’t go wrong with any hike in the San Juans. From amazing hikes near Telluride to epic Colorado 14ers, you’ll find plenty of wildflowers on virtually any trail. These recommendations just happen to be my favorites.

10. Mount Sneffels via Yankee Boy Basin

Mount Sneffels is a good hike and a challenging 14er, but during wildflower season, the section of this hike that really shines is the trail through Yankee Boy Basin

The meadows here seem to explode with a variety of wildflowers, from columbine to irises to sunflowers, and so many more! In fact, you could skip the summit, and just take in the view of Mount Sneffels framed by the spectacular rainbow of wildflowers.

  • Distance: 7.1 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 3,320 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

11. Island Lake via Ice Lakes Trail

Another one of the best lake hikes in Colorado, Island Lake is a special oasis in the San Juan National Forest. Along the trail, you’ll pass waterfalls on the way to Ice Lake, and then continue from there to the beautiful blue-green Island Lake. The alpine basin that you’ll hike through is absolutely filled with wildflowers of all kinds.

Note: The Ice Lakes Trail has now reopened to hikers after being closed for almost a year.

  • Distance: 7.2 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 2,670 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Best Wildflower Hikes in the Sangre de Cristos

Often overlooked by most hikers, the Sangre de Cristo mountains offer up some of the most amazing wildflower hikes in Colorado without the crowds. 

12. South Colony Lakes

While South Colony Lakes is often seen as a base for attempting the 14ers in the area (Kit Carson, Humboldt Peak, and the Crestones), the hike to the lakes is beautiful in its own right, especially during wildflower season. You can still appreciate the views of the alpine lakes with the cirque of mountains behind them, even if you don’t climb the peaks!

  • Distance: 8.9 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,286 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 5-6 hours
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

13. Lilly Lake Trail

Lilly Lake near Mt Lindsey delivers killer scenery without the hordes of people. Since you’ll need a solid 4WD vehicle with a little clearance to make it to the remote trailhead, you’ll find a lot of peace in this colorful valley.

You’ll start the trail by meandering through an unbelievable mountain valley, you’ll gain a ridge, then spot a cut off for Lilly Lake (most people opt to continue along the Mt Lindsey Trail). It’s a long, steep day hike or an ideal backpack if you want some solitude. The blooms make the effort oh-so-worth it.

  • Distance: 12.9 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,919 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 6 hours
  • Dog Friendly: yes, leased

Best Wildflower Hikes in Estes Park

There are countless amazing hikes in Estes Park. From the scenic Rocky Mountain National Park hiking trails to a few hidden gems stashed amongst the edges of the Continental Divide there are plenty of stashes of beautiful blooms.

14. Gem Lake

For a wonderful wildflower hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, check out Gem Lake. Though this hike is slightly steep, it’s a quick jaunt to the lake, so it’s a good way to see some wildflowers if you’re short on time. Also, instead of the usual meadows of flowers, the unique pink wildflowers at Gem Lake actually grow in cracks in th granite that surround the lake.

  • Distance: 3.4 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 990 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours
  • Dog Friendly: No
wildflower hikes in rocky mountian national park

15. Dream and Emerald Lake

The path up to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain passes by 4 incredible alpine lakes. You’ll bounce between lush pine forests and pockets of wildflowers. This is one of the most popular hikes in the state, so plan to be at the trailhead by 5 am if you want to find parking (and not be hiking with hundreds of your closest friends).

A sunrise at Emerald Lake is truly special and will have you forgetting about the early alarm in an instant.

Local Tip: From May 28th to October 11th you’ll need to reserve a time slot to enter the park (if you’re not there before sunrise). Plan accordingly.

  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 702 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours
  • Dog-friendly: No

16. Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge

If you want to experience one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado without too much elevation gain, then the Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge is for you. You’ll start your hike above the treeline (take care for afternoon thunderstorms) and have access to beautiful microblooms the entire way. 

The trail gets a little rocky and isn’t always obvious, so bring a GPS to navigate to the end. You’ll need a timed entry reservation from May 28th until October 11th.

Local Tip: Due to the Troublesome Fire in October of 2020, many of the park’s area’s remain closed, including this trail. Check recent conditions before heading out, as closure areas begin to open back up.

  • Distance: 5.6 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,990 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly: No

Hiking in Colorado? Be sure to have these items!

Here’s a comprehensive packing list for your next wildflower hike.

What to wear:

  • Sunshirt
  • Noncotton socks
  • Hiking footwear with good traction that you are comfortable wearing all day. 
  • Non-cotton shorts for hiking
  • Or non-cotton, pants for hiking. Convertible pants are great too!
  • Non-cotton shirt for hiking

What to pack:

Additional Planning Resources

Planning a hiking trip to Colorado? You’re in the right place. Let me show you the best Colorado hiking spots with expert, local resources about cool Colorado hidden gems.


Visiting Colorado in the summer is amazing because... wildflowers! If you're keen to see wildflowers in Colorado this summer, here are the top wildflower hikes in CO that guarantee beautiful sights!
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Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Hi There!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.