Amazing Wildflower Hikes Near Denver that are Perfect for Early Summer

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by foxintheforest

After 15 years of hiking in the Front Range, I can safely say I have nailed down a list of worthwhile wildflower hikes near Denver.

What I love about the blooms, is that you have early access to wildflowers. Lower elevation hikes melt off quicker and the blooms show up earlier. This means you can have an incredible wildflower hiking season if you’re in the know!

Here are a few of my favorite Denver-area wildflower hikes for the early season (read: June) and a few of the ones I really enjoy once the high alpine starts poppin’.

When Do Wildflowers Bloom Near Denver?

Colorado wildflowers bloom in July and August which can be a real bummer if you’re like me, sitting around, waiting for flowers!

But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

A lot of the wildflower hikes near Denver bloom early – think June. This is because these trails sit at a lower elevation.

So you can expand your Colorado wildflower hiking season by quite a bit when you enjoy these trails!

I’ve gone ahead and broken this post up into seasons so you can plan easily!

Wildflower blooms along a trail near Denver with big rocky cliffs in the background.

Top Wildflower Hikes Near Denver with Early Blooms (June)

These lower-elevation hikes feature classic Colorado wildflowers. They are great to get out and enjoy some warm weather earlier in the summer. However, they do tend to get really hot by late June!

My list of wildflower hikes near Denver that have early blooms in just 3 minutes. Check it out for a BONUS hike!

1. Founders to Sleep S Loop in Elk Meadow

This is a classic Evergreen hike that I do almost every week. Blooms start to show up in early June and the entire meadow can erupt in a sea of yellow!

You can also see lots of other stunning wildflowers including Indian Paintbrush, bluebells, and even Fireweed.

From the lower Elk Meadow East Trailhead, take the Sleepy S Trail you can wind all the way around to Meadow View for more mileage, or take the steep Elk Ridge trail for more of a challenge (listed below).

Both will link up with Meadow View. After a nice jaunt through the trees take Meadow View down to Painter’s Puase and back to the trailhead.

Local Tip: The downside? The valley itself isn’t that protected from the noise of Evergreen Parkway. And this place is PACKED on the weekends and after work. Get here early!

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 593 feet
Difficulty: easy
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Trailhead: Elk Meadow East Trailhead
Kid-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on leash
Fees? None
Crowd factor: VERY crowded. Quiet during the week.

Local Tip: This trail will be closed from July 8th, 2024 through Spring 2025.

Views at Elk Meadow with fields of flowers blooming near Evergreen, Colorado.

2. Staunton Ranch to Scoutline Trail in Staunton State Park

Staunton State Park is a newer Colorado State Park, but it’s been developed quite nicely over the years.

The Staunton Ranch Trail is an open, easy wander that passes by stunning cliffs and plenty of blooms!

Park at the upper lot and head up the Scoutline Trail (wooded, with lots of switchbacks – great to get out of the way). You’ll reach a junction with signs to Staunton Ranch take that trail (right). From here you’ll drop down through the trees and reach the end of Staunton Ranch where the trail also meets up with mountain bikers.

Alternatively, you can head out out-and-back style on Staunton Ranch, or continue left at the junction until you reach Elk Pond and say hey to the marmots. The hiking from Elk Pond back to Staunton Ranch is a boring road walk, but it’ll give you more opportunities to spot flowers if that’s your end goal!

Local Tip: I’m here every week. The flowers come in here around mid-June and stick around for most of the summer, making it an awesome option anytime during the year.

Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,141 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 3.5 hours
Trailhead: Upper Parking Lot
Kid-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on leash
Fees? $10 per vehicle or free with a state park pass (your CO vehicle registration allows for a $29 annual park pass!)
Crowd factor: Crowded. Quiet during the week.

3. Fountain Valley Loop in Roxborough State Park

This is the most kid-friendly hike ever (seriously, my toddler can do this one). And what I love about it is that it goes right by some unbelievable red rock formations without a ton of effort.

There are daisies and other beautiful flowers (fireweed?) peppering the landscape to really make it come to life.

From the upper parking lot near the visitor’s center, take the trail toward the back of the lot and meander along a nice gravel trail.

Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 344 feet
Difficulty: easy
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Trailhead: Visitor’s Center trailhead
Kid-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? No dogs allowed at Roxborough State Park
Fees? $10 per vehicle or free with a state park pass (your CO vehicle registration allows for a $29 annual park pass!)
Crowd factor: VERY crowded. They will stop people from entering if the park is too busy, so arrive early. It’s even busy during the week here.

Colorado wildflowers along a trail in Roxborough State Park near Denver.

4. The Fowler Trail in Eldorado Canyon State Park

Admittedly I’m mostly climbing in Eldorado Canyon, but I do get out here and hike a few times a year. The top of my list is always the Fowler Trail. It goes by stunning cliffs, but it also crawls it’s way up to catch a glimpse of the high peaks beyond the park.

Along the upper part of the trail there are plenty of opportunities for wildflower spotting! This is an easy trail to catch some views and enjoy the Front Range scenery!

Local Tip: You need a timed entry to park at Eldorado Canyon State Park or you can take the hiker shuttle in during certain times in the summer. This means that planning can be a bit of a pain, but it has cut down on crowds.

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 410 feet
Difficulty: easy
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Trailhead: Visitor’s Center trailhead
Kid-friendly? Yes, but minimal shade toward the end.
Dog-friendly? Yes, on leash.
Fees? $10 per vehicle or free with a state park pass (your CO vehicle registration allows for a $29 annual park pass!)
Crowd factor: Busy. The timed entry and shuttle have cut the crowds down a bit.

Wildflower Hikes near Denver with July Blooms

Those classic Colorado high country hikes are within reach! These are a couple of my favorite trails that see blooms in July and August.

5. Hell’s Hole Trail near Idaho Springs

You’ll want an SUV (crossover usually works) to reach the trailhead to this Front Range Classic. The hike starts out in the trees, but the end is a beautiful high-alpine meadow that does see quite a few blooms!

You’ll have to earn it though. The trees are steep and a little unrelenting, which can definitely feel like a slog.

The trail is very straightforward and easy to follow. And since there’s no lake at the end, it can be busy on the weekends, but it’s not slammed like other areas.

Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,906 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Time: 4 hours
Trailhead: Hells Hole Trailhead – just beyond West Chicago Creek Campground
Kid-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on leash.
Fees? Free!
Crowd factor: Busy

a look at a mountain with a bluebell wildflower in the foreground at hells hole outside of idahoe springs, colorado.

6. Summit Lake to Chicago Lakes near Mt Blue Sky

I’m always recommending Mt Blue Sky to visitors and families alike and here’s why.

First, it’s got a wide range of things to do along the road – including Summit Lake. And second, it’s a great way to get into higher altitudes without committing to a big, massive hike.

This hike takes a top-down approach. You’ll start at Summit Lake then hike down a fairly steep scree field to reach Upper Chicago Lake. You can continue to Lower Chicago Lake if you want (some big step downs) but you’ll be greeted with lots of alpine scenery – including lovely flowers, most of the way on this hike!

Don’t forget, what goes down, must come up! Uphill will leave you more breathless so take your time if you’re acclimated.

Local Tip: You’ll need a timed entry permit to visit Mt Blue Sky and park at the Summit Lake TH. Aim for an early-morning slot to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. And if there isn’t a Summit Lake-specific reservation, look at what’s available for the all-area pass (same price).

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,174 feet
Difficulty: hard
Estimated Time: 2.5 hours
Trailhead: Summit Lake trailhead
Kid-friendly? Yes
Dog-friendly? Yes, on leash
Fees? $12 per vehicle or $2 with an America the Beautiful annual parks pass. You will need an advanced reservation to get in.
Crowd factor: Crowded at Summit Lake, fewer crowds at Chicago Lakes

Where NOT to go for Wildflowers Near Denver

Hot take alert!

I think some of the hikes in Colorado are completely overrated.

But there are those trails that everyone on the internet recommends and I’m going to be really honest with you.

I’ve been hiking in Colorado for over 15 years and being sharing my findings by building resources like this for almost a decade. And guess what? There are things everyone recommends you do but you should actually avoid them for one reason or another. Simply put there are better places out there.

Herman Gulch

This trail is an utter sh*t show these days. What a shame! Long ago it got accolades for being one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado. And technically, you can still say that – yes, there are a LOT of flowers. But it’s so stinking crowded here.

Like cars parked on the highway kind of crowded.

You’re better off heading to Watrous Gulch (next door) if you want some solitude during the wildflower season.

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.