Woof-Tacular Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by foxintheforest

In case you haven’t noticed, Colorado is big on four-legged friends. Everywhere you turn there is a doggo and for as many dogs as there are, there are countless amazing dog-friendly hikes near Denver. 

Living in such a dog-friendly city means that you can find plenty of amazing dog-friendly hikes. From gentle romps in the foothills to awesome hiking trails in the alpine, Denver is all about happy trails and happy tails.

My doggo Nina is a bit of a badass. She’s literally hiked thousands of miles on all of the dog-friendly trails near Denver. She’s now 14 (we think) and she can still throw down 8 miles in the mountains and be less sore than I am!

In fact, she’s done over 130 miles of the Colorado Trail with me, been up burly mountain passes, even summited some of Colorado’s easiest 14ers.

But for as many amazing dog-friendly hikes in Colorado that we’ve done, we’ve had plenty of mis-adventures too.

Nina has literally walked her paws off while backpacking. (Yes, it was very sad and super scary). 

She’s been out when it’s too hot and we’ve had to carry her back to the car after running out of water. We were all fine, no worries.

The point is, we’ve so many dog friendly hikes in Colorado since I moved here and rescued Nina 12 years ago, I’m THE expert in all things hiking. As many of you know, I’m a full-time writer for the outdoors, so I get paid to hike. 

As a pro hiker with a happy pup and a long-time Colorado local, you know you’re getting the best recommendations for dog-friendly hikes near Denver. 

It’s my mission to get you (and your pup) outdoors like a local, not a tourist. 

About this Guide to Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

When it comes to getting outside and on the trails with your pup, I’ve got you covered. Inside this guide to the best dog-friendly hikes near Denver, you’ll find…

  • The best time to hike near Denver with your doggo
  • The best easy dog-friendly hikes near Denver
  • Moderate hikes near Denver for you and your pup
  • Awesome, challenging hikes near Denver for dogs
  • Mileage, elevation, difficulty, and estimated time for each hike
  • Tips for hiking with a dog in Colorado
  • Hiking packing list for your pup

PSST. This post contains affiliate links. When you click on an item and purchase something, I get a small kickback at no added cost to you. It’s an excellent way to show your support for this blog (it’s my full-time job) and I can continue to give you the secrets to hiking with your dog in Colorado. For more info, check out my privacy policy.

dog friendly hikes denver

When is the Best Time to Hike in Colorado?

The best time to visit Colorado for hiking (or hit the trails) depends on where you are hiking.

You can, of course, hike year-round near Denver. In the winter, the foothills and lower elevations tend to be safer from avalanche danger. This is a great time to go for a hike if you are looking for an added challenge and your dog likes the cooler temperatures. 

Mountain bikers also aren’t out, which makes trails a bit easier to navigate with a dog.

Winter in the high alpine or snowy mountains typically involves a lot of post-holing (sinking up to their chest) for your dog. Avalanche danger is also quite great – so avoid these times.

Spring is known as mud season. Typically trails are muddy and slushy – not ideal for hiking – especially if your pup picks up dirt easily. April and May are also ideal times for rattlesnake sightings near Denver, so take care if you are out on the trails early in the morning or later in the evening. Snake bites are a real threat and happen every year!

Springs in higher elevations (think 10,000 feet and higher) tend to still be dangerous. Snow is melting which causes wet-slide avalanches. Not to mention dogs will still be sinking in deep snow.

Summers are great for hiking with a dog near Denver, but it gets HOT during the day time. Dogs overheat faster than humans, so certainly avoid the heat of the day in the summer. Instead opt to hike towards sunset or around sunrise. 

In the higher elevations, the trails are clear of snow and the temps are pleasant. Your doggo will love the alpine this time of year as much as you do. It’s also the most crowded time to hike in the mountains, so be sure to follow all leash laws.

Fall is another amazing time to hike both in the mountains and the Denver foothills. The temperatures are far more mild but the sun is still shining. Most of the out-of-town tourists have left and things start to slow down a little. In my expert opinion, this is the best time to hike with your dog in Colorado.

A Map of the Best Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

Get oriented with this dog-friendly hikes map. Don’t forget to check out the interactive version too so you can save trailheads to your favorite places.

Dog friendly hikes colorado map

The Best Easy Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

When you and your canine buddy need some fresh air, these easy hikes are great outdoor escapes that are less than an hour from Denver. 

1. Brother’s Lookout and Sisters Loop

One of the quintessential hikes in Evergreen, the Brother’s Lookout and Sisters Loop is a forested trail with rock formations along the way – and plenty of places for your dog to play. Once you reach the lookout, you’ll be able to see the Continental Divide and several of Colorado’s 14ers.

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 459 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 11.5 hours

2. Flatirons Vista

You and your furry friend can both appreciate the signature skyline of Boulder on this easy Boulder hiking trail that showcases its namesake Flatirons. These unique rock formations are a must-see in the Front Range and this hike gives you a great view making it one of the best dog-friendly hikes near Denver

  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 285 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 1.5-2 hours
best hikes near Boulder, Colorado
Get sweeping views of the Flatirons in right near Boulder

3. Fowler Trail

This is a pretty trail that lets you explore Eldorado Canyon, which is home to some of the best hikes near Boulder. The Fowler Trail ends up in the state park, and you can connect with other trails there, including Rattlesnake Gulch, if your dog has extra energy and wants to keep going. Be sure to look out for climbers scaling the tall rock walls of Eldo!

Local Tip: You can hike this trail starting in Eldorado Canyon State Park. It’s a $10 fee to enter the park and parking is not allowed anywhere but at designated areas.

  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 433 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours

4. Elk Meadow

Hiking Elk Meadow is the perfect way to get some fresh air with your four-legged buddy if you don’t have a lot of time. It’s just about a 45 min drive from Denver up to this Evergreen hiking hot spot, and the hike is quick, too. But if you want to stay out longer, just slow down and enjoy the meadow views, which are especially beautiful during wildflower season. You could also add on Bergen Peak if you’re feeling more ambitious.

Local Tip: Elk Meadow has some of the most scenic winter hikes in Colorado that also happen to be dog-friendly! Don’t miss out if you’re craving some trail time during the snowy season.

  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 593 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours

5. Mayflower Gulch

Mayflower Gulch is a beautiful hike that both you and your doggo are sure to love. It’s a bit of a drive from Denver, but totally worth it for the scenery. Trust me, this is one of the most beautiful hikes in Colorado.

The stunning cirque of mountains you’ll find at the end of the trail is worth every second you spend on the road to get there. The trail is pretty mellow but a nice way to stretch your legs – or paws! You’ll get jaw-dropping views along this amazing Colorado wildflower hiking trail.

Local Tip: If you want more trail time, check out some of the other hikes in Breckenridge nearby – most are dog-friendly.

  • Distance: 3.2 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 575 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
denver dog friendly hikes

6. North Table Mountain via Rim Rock Loop

The trail to the top of North Table Mountain is a great hike that easily lets you choose your own adventure based on your dog’s needs. It starts out with a moderate incline to get your heart pumping, then you can hike around the top of the mesa for as long (or short) as you want on one of the many different looping trails. You’ll also get some great views of Golden and the Denver skyline in the distance.

  • Distance: 8.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

The Best Moderate Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

These trails encompass a variety of what Colorado has to offer, while still staying close to Denver so you’re dog won’t get too antsy or anxious in the car.

7. Lost Lake via Hessie Trailhead

Lost Lake is a beautiful trail and one of the best lake hikes in Colorado. You’ll make your way through meadows of wildflowers and pass a waterfall on the way to this alpine lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Let your dog frolic by the lake on this amazing dog-friendly hike near Denver before heading back down to the trailhead.

  • Distance: 4.0 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 830 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2 hours
hikes for dogs denver

8. Green Mountain

Located in Morrison (there is another Green Mountain in Boulder), Green Mountain is a trail of rolling hills that takes you to great views at the top. You can combine different loops to get the length you’re looking for. Pack a lunch and have a picnic while your dog rolls in the grass before you head back down.

Local Tip: This is a hot spot for rattlesnakes in the spring, so keep your eyes out and that leash short if you venture here during the morning or evening.

  • Distance: 4.6 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 898 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours

9. Herman Gulch

Herman Gulch is a gorgeous hike that ends up at an alpine lake – the perfect place for you and your pup to do the doggy paddle and cool off on a hot day! The mountain views along the way are impressive, and the trail is also awesome for appreciating wildflowers.

Local tip: This is an extremely popular hike, so if you’re turned off by the crowds, you could try Watrous Gulch instead. Both hikes start at the same trailhead.

  • Distance: 6.3 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,755 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

10. Arapaho Pass

The 4th of July Trailhead is full of amazing hikes, but Arapaho Pass is definitely a favorite. You’ll be treated to incredible alpine scenery that only gets more epic the higher you hike. Plus, you’ll pass a pretty little waterfall on your way. If your dog gets tired, you can also cut this hike short and turn around once you reach the 4th of July Mine, which is about 2 miles in. But if your four-legged friend has excess energy, it’s absolutely worth it to keep going to the top of Arapaho Pass.

  • Distance: 6.2 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,758 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

The Best Difficult Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

These more challenging hikes are best for those extremely agile dogs that just never seem to get tired.

11. Mount Sniktau

Mount Sniktau makes an awesome intro summit for you and your dog! This is one of the best 13ers near Denver, right off of Loveland Pass. While it has some good elevation gain, it is a very doable and one of the best challenging dog-friendly hikes near Denver. It is also an especially good spot to watch the sunset over the Rockies.

  • Distance: 4 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,587 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Dog friendly hikes denver

12. Grays and Torrey’s Peak

If your dog is ready to attempt a 14er, Grays and Torrey’s is a great one – well, actually two! – to start with. While the hike is fairly grueling, it’s not technical, so an agile dog should be able to handle the trail. Just be aware that there is some rocky terrain, so watch out for your buddy’s paws – I recommend Musher’s Secret Salve. If you complete the trail, you’ll make it to both summits and check off 14ers at once.

Local tip: Since these peaks are both close to Denver and considered relatively easy 14ers, the trail can get absolutely packed. You definitely want to get an alpine start (be at the trailhead before 5 am)!

  • Distance: 8.5 mile lollipop loop
  • Elevation Gain: 3,684 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 8-10 hours

13. Gore Lake

If you have a dog up who is up for a big adventure, you can explore the Eagles Nest Wilderness on the hike to Gore Lake. This long, steep trail makes its way through alpine meadows on the way to the high alpine lake. You could choose to backpack the trail (one of the most scenic backpacking routes in Colorado) to split up the mileage and make it a little more mellow. Backpacking also gives you a chance to slow down and enjoy the scenery, since you really will want some time to take it all in.

  • Distance: 12.1 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,867 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 7-8 hours

14. Butler Gulch

A short, but stout little challenge is the loop up Butler Gulch. This is a great hike if you’re looking to get above treeline, but don’t want the hassle of a full-blown summit hike. Since it’s only 45 minutes from Denver, it’s a great option if you want to get into the alpine but you’re short on time.

You’ll find the trailhead along Jones Pass Road. There’s no parking, so your best bet is to park at the Jones Pass Trailhead near the Henderson Mine and walk up the road a bit to the start of the trail.

  • Distance: 5.5 miles lollipop loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,814 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
  • Estimated Time: 2.5-3 hours

Tips for Hiking with Your Dog in Colorado

Before you hit the trails, it’s important to know the ins-and-outs of hiking in Colorado. Your doggo needs special attention too! 

If you’re visiting from out of town, be sure to acclimatize properly with your pooch. Dogs are susceptible to altitude sickness too!

Be sure to get an early start. There aren’t many uncrowded hikes near Denver. People get outside often. So if the crowds aren’t your thing, plan to arrive at trailheads between 6 and 7 am – especially on weekends – if you want some solo time. Keep in mind, mountain summits require an earlier start – think before 5 am.

Pick up after your pet. Yes, you may claim not to be that person who is leaving dog poop and poop bags on the trail, but the honest truth is someone is doing it. Don’t let it be you!

Putting a poop bag on the side of the trail is NOT the same as picking it up and carrying it with you. Even if you intend to pick it up on your way back, you’re still leaving litter on the trail for everyone else to see.

Be a decent human and take poop bags with you. Use a small carabiner to attach the bag to the outside of your pack. 

Keep an eye on the weather. If you’re hiking above treeline (higher elevation than the trees grow) you and your pup are at risk for afternoon thunderstorms during the summer. Turn around if the clouds roll in to stay safe.

Watch your pup’s paws. Pay attention to your dog’s paws. The rough rocks and sharp pebbles can wear holes in your dog’s foot pads. Use salve before you set out and as you hike to protect their feet. Dog booties can cause all sorts of problems and don’t allow your dog’s feet to breathe (dogs sweat through their feet).

Obey the leash laws. Remember to always pay attention to leash laws. There are rangers about and they are not afraid to give out tickets.

dog friendly hikes denver

What to Pack for Your Dog Friendly Colorado Hike

Aside from the hiking gear you need, you’ll want to pack a few extra things for your pup too. Here’s a look at what to bring for Fido’s big hike!

A collapsable dog water bowl. I love a fabric water bowl that packs down easily. It weighs nothing and easily attaches to your pack.

A leash. Preferably one that is close to you for easy handling.

Dog treats. If you’re on a challenging hike, don’t forget a few snacks for your pup!

Dog foot salve. I love Musher’s Secret since it’s all natural, easy to apply and works well with snow and ice too.

First aid kit items for your dog. This includes Benadryl for snake bites and bee stings (talk to your vet about dosing), a paw protection kit (kid’s socks and athletic tape) to make a booty if there is an unexpected foot injury, tweezers (cacti are common at lower elevations), and any other medicine your vet recommends carrying.

Plenty of water. Your dog can easily lap up just as much water as you on a hot day. Typically, they will go for streams, but on hikes with little water or in extreme cases you’ll want to be prepared with plenty of water. Pack extra in the car too!

Updated vaccines. Lepto is a common disease that can affect dogs that hike in Colorado. Also flea, tick, and mosquito protection is recommended. Check with your vet for any additional medication or shots your dog may need to go for a hike!

Additional Planning Resources

Heading to Colorado with your furry friend? Check out these resources:


Want to take your dog on a hike? There are so many dog-friendly hikes in Denver for a fun day trip with your pup! Here's a round up of the best hikes for your dog in Colorado!
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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.