13 Magnificent Hikes Near Golden, CO You’ll Love

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by foxintheforest

From canyons to glittering aspen groves there are plenty of amazing hikes near Golden to enjoy. Just a short and scenic drive from Denver, the foothills of Golden are an absolute playground of trails to explore.

North Table and South Table Mountain beckon with panoramic vistas from the top of the mesas, and you can hike up Lookout Mountain (the one with the “M” for School of Mines), too. Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Clear Creek Canyon offer more scenic hikes near Golden, CO.

As a local of over 13 years, I’ve spent tons of time on the Golden hiking trails and exploring all the things to do in Golden. I will show you how to travel like a local, not a tourist, with this extensive guide to all the awesome hikes near Golden, Colorado.

About this Guide to Hikes Near Golden, CO

Inside this local guide to Golden hikes, you’ll find info about:

  • The best time for hiking in Golden
  • A map of the best hiking trails near Golden
  • Easy hikes near Golden, CO
  • Moderate hikes near Golden
  • Golden hiking trails that offer a real challenge
  • Where to eat & drink
  • Additional Colorado hiking resources

When is the Best Time for Hiking in Golden?

You can hike year-round in Golden! Fall is perfect for hitting the Golden hiking trails, with cooler temps and dry trails. While winter brings the snow, many hikes near Golden, CO are especially beautiful with a dusting of the white stuff, as long as you’re prepared for the conditions.

Spring can be a tricky season on the hiking trails near Golden because the melting snow leads to muddy conditions. To preserve the trails, many trails are closed if they are too muddy. Summer brings drier trails, but it can be quite hot, and some of the trails don’t offer much shade.

Map of the Best Hikes near Golden

The Best Easy Hikes Near Golden, CO

Golden is a great introduction to hiking in Colorado, with some excellent easy hikes near Denver.

1. Clear Creek Trail (Peaks to Plains)

Clear Creek runs right through Golden, and the paved path along the creek is the perfect way to explore the beauty of Golden.

The Peaks to Plains Trail will eventually run 65 miles from the South Platte Trail in Denver all the way to Loveland Pass, but only some sections of the trail have been completed so far.

From the Gateway Trailhead at the start of Clear Creek Canyon, you can head out 1.75 miles before crossing the creek and heading back to the trailhead on a loop.

Local Tip: Climbing in Clear Creek is super popular, with crags up and down the canyon for all levels of climbers.

Distance: Varies
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

2. South Table Mountain

Take a short (but somewhat steep hike) up South Table Mountain for amazing views of downtown Golden, the foothills, and even the Denver skyline in the distance.

There are a few trails to get up to the top of the mesa, but the Lubahn Trail (also known as the Golden Summit Trail) is the best option.

Distance: 2.5-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 449 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

3. Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail

Several trails head out from Windy Saddle, and the Lookout Mountain Trail is the easiest of the bunch if you’re looking for a quick jaunt.

You’ll head up through forested terrain to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center. The full trail continues along a road, but many hikers use the Nature Center as their turnaround point.

Distance: 4.4 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 705 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

The Best Moderate Hikes Near Golden, Colorado

The moderate trails are where Golden shines. From the mesa of North Table to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Golden has some of the best moderate hikes near Denver.

4. Chimney Gulch Trail (from Highway 6)

Chimney Gulch is one of the best hikes near Golden, CO, especially if you’re training for a bigger adventure.

This trail packs in plenty of elevation right from the get-go! After some serious uphill at the start, you’ll reach a lovely forest where the trail mellows out a bit before you get to Windy Saddle.

Local tip: You can park for this trail in a dirt lot along Highway 6, or you can start from downtown Golden on a connector trail through an underpass.

Distance: 5 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

5. Mt. Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail

Mount Galbraith is definitely one of the best hikes near Golden, CO, providing beautiful views of the town and Lookout Mountain nearby.

Cedar Gulch is a pretty, wooded trail that takes you up to the Mt. Galbraith Loop, where you can choose your own adventure clockwise or counterclockwise.

Local tip: Nightbird Gulch is another trail option that connects with Mount Galbraith from the other side, with slightly more mileage and elevation gain.

Distance: 4 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 928 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

6. Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop

This loop is a popular jaunt up some rocky sections along a creek and through a lovely forest.
Local tip: Hikers are only allowed to use the trail on odd calendar dates – even dates are for biking.

Distance: 5.5-mile lollipop loop
Elevation Gain: 1,243 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2.5-3 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

7. North Table Mountain & Rim Rock Loop

North Table is an absolute must when exploring hikes near Golden, CO. The mesa is a playground for hikers, bikers, and climbers, and a whole network of trails heads uphill and around the top of the mesa.

The Rim Rock Loop is a great way to spend a half day checking out North Table.

Distance: 8.3-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

8. Dakota Ridge Trail

Dakota Ridge gives you some fun, rocky elevation gain and great views of Morrison, and you can connect to the nearby Red Rocks Trail for even more.

Local Tip: This is a great hike to train for harder hikes in the alpine.

Distance: 5.4 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 1,099 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2.5-3 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes

9. Rawhide Trail

One of many excellent trails in White Ranch Park, Rawhide is a nice loop with gentle hills through forests and meadows.

Distance: 5-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 859 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2-2.5 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

10. Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow

Check out Golden Gate Canyon State Park, one of the best state parks in Colorado, on the Horseshoe Trail.

When the aspens turn to gold, this is one of the gorgeous fall hikes in Colorado.

Distance: 3.8 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 944 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

11. Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop

Chavez and Beaver Book is one of the great moderate hikes near Golden, CO in Genesee. The forest offers plenty of shade, and in the summer you can cool off in the creek.

Distance: 5 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 1,122 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 2.5-3 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

The Best Challenging Hikes Near Golden, CO

While Golden doesn’t have the kind of challenging hikes that Boulder does, there are a couple of longer hiking trails near Golden for a full-day adventure.

12. Beaver Brook Trail

Starting at Windy Saddle, Beaver Brook Trail runs through the woods, with lots of rocky sections and amazing views.

You’ll hit a summit before descending into Genesee, but you can also turn around at any point for a less intense hike.

Local tip: Sections of the trail get very icy in winter, so bring microspikes and be prepared to turn around if it’s sketchy.

Distance: 13.4 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 3,297 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Estimated Time: 7-8 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

13. Travois Trail via Mayhem Gulch

The Travois Trail loop, accessed by the Mayhem Gulch Trail, offers a bit of everything – open meadow, shady trees, and rocky scrambles.

You also get lovely views of Clear Creek Canyon and beyond. On weekends, the trail is alternating use, with hikers only allowed on odd-numbered dates, and bikers only on even-numbered dates.

Local tip: Centennial Cone Park, which encompasses this trail, is closed each year from December 1 – January 31 for hunting access. Hiking is not permitted during that time.

Distance: 16.9 miles out & back
Elevation Gain: 2,673 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Estimated Time: 8-10 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash

Don’t forget the essentials!

Here’s a look at what should be in your hiking bag.

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:

Where to Eat & Drink Post-Hike

Did your hike work up quite a hunger? Check out these tasty post-hike eats:

  • Bob’s Atomic Burger: Burgers & fries $
  • Sherpa House: Nepalese & Indian food $$
  • Thai Gold: Thai food $$
  • Golden Mill: Food hall with pour-your-own taps $$
  • New Terrain: Local brewery with food trucks $

More Local Colorado Hiking Resources

Ready to hike like a local, not a tourist? Check out these resources:

Picture of Meg Atteberry
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.