With over 700,000 people, it can be hard to find solitude in the Mile High City. Get out on the trails this season with this expertly curated list of the best, uncrowded hikes near Denver.
As a Denver local for over 12 years, and a professional writer for the outdoors, I know where to find the best hikes near Denver without crowds. This list of hikes includes a few local favorites (with small parking lots) as well as some obscure hiking trails where you can easily find complete solitude.
About this Guide to the Best Hikes Near Denver Without the Crowds
When it comes to finding the best, uncrowded hikes near Denver, there are a few important things to know. First, compared to many of the best hikes in Colorado, all of these trails see far less crowds.
This list shows some of the best hikes near Denver with smaller parking lots and restrictions, more remote settings, or hikes that I’ve done countless times and seen limited people.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- A special note about hiking near Denver during COVID-19
- A list of the best hikes near Denver without crowds
- Quick tips for hiking in Colorado
- Additional Colorado hiking resources
A Special Note About Hiking in Colorado with COVID-19
Perhaps you’ve stumbled across this post because you’re looking to get out of your house and go for a hike. That’s great. Really. Mental health is paramount right now and you should get outside and hike.
Currently, the Colorado government promotes hiking locally. But what does this mean? First, it means that you shouldn’t drive more than 20 minutes to get to a trailhead. That’s LOCAL.
Second, it means you need to be responsible. If you’re sick STAY HOME. The trail isn’t going anywhere. Seriously. Stay. Home.
Don’t pull into a smashed parking lot and hike, seek uncrowded hiking trails near Denver. Hike at odd times (sunrise or sunset is great!). Don’t forget to bring your own hand sanitizer and consider only using the toilet for emergencies.
Stay 6 feet away from fellow hikers and only hike with your family or household in order to maintain social distancing while you hike. This might get tricky on a steep trail, but step out well out of the way for others. Also, wear a mask or a Buff to cover your nose and face.
Lastly, the pandemic situation is changing daily. Always check that a trail is open before you set out. Some places are closed unless you live in that county. Other places are simply shut until things calm down. Don’t disobey the rules. If you do so, the trails will close for all of us and you’ll jeopardize everyone’s safety.
Pro Tip: Jefferson County has just launched a new app called LotSpot. It’ll let you know which trailhead parking lots are full in advance, so you don’t waste time driving around.
How to Beat the Crowds Hiking in Denver
Alright, so I’ll be honest, it’s tough to find uncrowded hikes near Denver. Extremely tough. Some of the trails listed here do get crowded during peak times (think weekends from 9:30 to 4:30).
However, these trails aren’t as smashed as other hiking areas near Denver. The busier trails on this uncrowded hiking list have limited parking lots, so this does mean that the trails will get full, but thanks to the smaller lots, you’ll see less people.
In essence, this is a list of the least crowded hikes near Denver, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find other people along the trail.
In order to get some solitude on the trail, try these tips for finding hikes near Denver without the crowds:
- Go early or late. Think sunrise and sunset. Always pack a headlamp!
- Hike during the week. This can be either before or after lunch. You can also take a hike on your lunch break!
- Avoid weekends between 9:30 am to 6:30 pm.
11 of the Best, Uncrowded Hikes Near Denver
This list of the 11 best hikes near Denver without crowds includes trails for all abilities. You’ll find detailed information about each trail, including the location, difficulty, mileage and any red tape. Happy hiking!
1. Hells Hole Trail in Idaho Springs
This is hands-down one of my favorite hidden hiking trails. I’ve been up to Hells Hole a few times and never encountered very many hikers. Likely because this trail doesn’t terminate at an alpine lake, it gets a little less love. The trail winds its way up a forested path until it spills out into a gorgeous alpine bowl.
Distance: 7.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,912 feet
2. Ben Tyler Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness
The Lost Creek Wilderness has long been one of my favorite haunts. Home to lots of less-crowded hiking trails near Denver, one of the most secluded trails is the Ben Tyler Trail. There’s plenty of ass-kicking elevation gain to get your heart pumping. Thanks to steep hills, this trail sees little traffic.
Distance: 11.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,402 feet
3. Mount Galbraith Loop
I’ve long escaped to Mount Galbraith when I need to get out of the city quickly. As one of the best uncrowded hikes near Denver, Mount Galbraith Loop is a must-hike trail. Keep in mind you will see crowds here on the weekend, but a small parking lot with limited parking along the road usually keeps the bigger crowds at bay.
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 928 feet
4. Mount Morrison in Morrison
With room for just a few cars and lots of butt-busting elevation gain, Mount Morrison sees little traffic compared to nearby trails. Scramble your way to the top for sweeping views of Golden, Morrison, and more. On a clear day you can see both Pikes Peak and Longs Peak in the distance. Keep in mind, you’ll need your hands in spots.
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,873 feet
Dog-Friendly: Yes – but some rock hopping is required
5. Bergen Peak in Evergreen
If you can’t make it up to one of Colorado’s best 14ers, then hike to the top of Bergen Peak in Evergreen. As one of the best hikes in Evergreen, this one should be on everyone’s list. Although this JeffCo open space sees a lot of traffic, most people skip Bergen Peak because of it’s bigger altitude gains. But don’t worry, the view from the top is worth the effort!
Distance: 8.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,768 feet
6. Colorow Mountain Forest and Meadow Loop in Golden
This quiet, almost unknown trail located just west of Lookout Mountain is one of the best uncrowded hiking trails in Denver. The short lollipop loop offers a few nice views, along with plenty of bird watching. It makes for a nice romp to get some fresh air without having to worry about crowds of people.
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 141 feet
7. Castle Rock Trail in Castle Rock
located near the town’s namesake, this easy hiking trail is an excellent break from the hustle of suburban life. You’ll get beautiful views of the Front Range for just a little bit of effort. You can also head to the top of the rock.
Distance: 1.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 328 feet
8. Quarry Mesa Loop Trail in Castle Rock
Although you’ll have to share this trail with mountain bikers, it offers a quick escape from the crowds. Complete with sweeping views of the foothills and Castle Rock, you’ll be able to get outside and stretch your legs.
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 351 feet
9. Huntsman Gulch Trail in Clear Creek Canyon
Clear Creek Canyon is better known for its rock climbing than hiking, which is why many people overlook the Huntsman Gulch Trail. As one of the most secluded hikes near Denver, this short jaunt has plenty of beautiful canyon views with a few steep sections of elevation gain.
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 659 feet
10. Beaver Brook Trail in Golden
Although this may be the most crowded trail on the list, I’ve still not seen too many people hiking the Beaver Brook Trail near Golden. Mostly because this trail is located on the side of Lookout Mountain with a tiny parking lot. For a foothills hike, there’s plenty of mountain views.
Avoid this trail on the weekends and you’ll have the whole 9-plus-mile stretch to yourself after a few hundred yards. Bonus points, Lookout Mountain is one of the best scenic drives near Denver. You’ll get beautiful views and a nice drive.
Distance: 9.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,660feet
11. Mayhem Gulch to Centennial Cone in Kittredge
Mayhem Gulch in Centennial Cone Trail is open from June 15 until Jan 1st. You can hike this lesser-known hiking trail near Denver on odd-numbered days during the weekend. Despite the odd rules, this quiet, scenic trail offers beautiful views of our beloved foothills.
Distance: 9.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,043 feet
12. Hicks Mountain Overlook in Evergreen
This 10-plus-mile trail wanders its way through beautiful mountain valleys before topping out on Hick’s Mountain. It’s one of the best hikes in Evergreen, CO. There’s very few crowds here, large in-part due to the long mileage. As a secret hiking trail near Denver, I make it a point to hike this one each season.
Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,666 feet
Tips for Hiking Near Denver
When it comes to hiking near Denver, or Colorado in general, it’s important to be prepared. Always make sure you check the weather and recent trail conditions before you head out. Pack an extra layer and a rain jacket – especially if you’re hiking in the summer.
For winter, you typically don’t need snowshoes to hike near Denver, but you do want some handy microspikes.
Respect nature and pack out your trash. This includes TP, dog waste, and fruit peels. Leave it better than you found it and obey all rules while you’re on your hike.
For more, check out this guide to hiking for beginners.
Additional Hiking Resources for Colorado
Wanna hike more in Colorado? Well you’ve come to the right place. Get the inside scoop on the best hikes with these additional resources: