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    Where to hike in Colorado

    Hiking In Colorado

    State in United States

    Hiking in Colorado is a bucket list activity for many adventure travelers. The Rocky Mountain state is known for the staggering beauty and grandeur of its peaks, offering countless opportunities for hiking and trekking. If you’re craving a fun adventure in some epic landscapes, look no further! Colorado has everything you’re looking for and more.

    The Rocky Mountains rise out of the Great Plains, creating a series of craggy granite peaks that tower over the landscape. Their striking beauty is reflected in the serene alpine lakes that litter the park, and below the treeline the mountains are clothed in aromatic forests of pine and aspen. This is Colorado at its finest, with so many wonderful opportunities for hiking you simply won’t know where to start.

    Hiking in Colorado isn’t just about the Rockies. The Indian Peaks, Vail, Denver, and Aspen all offer a range of pretty forested trails, high ridge walks, and wide expansive meadows covered with flowers in early summer. This sunny state boasts a wealth of riches when it comes to hiking. So what are you waiting for? Check out our guide to hiking in Colorado.

    Types Of Hiking In Colorado

    Colorado’s spectacular landscapes offer tremendous hiking possibilities, whatever your tastes and preferences. If you’re looking for challenging ascents and daring ridge walks, head to Rocky Mountain National Park or the Indian Peaks, where you’ll find some strenuous hikes and incredible panoramas.

    For those looking for moderate, fun hikes surrounded by incredible scenery, Vail, Boulder, and Aspen offer plenty of fantastic trails teeming with wildlife and interesting foliage. Some Colorado trails pack in a lot of variety, with waterfalls, lakes, rivers, wild meadows, craggy ridges, and rocky peaks, so you’ll never want to stop exploring.

    Finally, if you’re traveling with younger kids or simply looking for a relaxing stroll, you’ll find easy low-level hikes all across the state, with plenty to entertain younger hikers.

    Easy Hikes In Colorado

    Maroon Lake Hike: If you haven’t got much time in the Colorado Rockies, but want to stretch your legs and take in some marvelous scenery, try this short hike along Maroon Lake. It’s a popular route, but the view across the lake to North Maroon Peak makes it all worthwhile. This is one of the most picturesque easy hikes in Colorado.

    Ouzel Falls Hike: This Ouzel Falls hike is an easy, accessible route suitable for hikers of all ages and fitness levels! Although it’s just a short walk, the scenery here really packs a punch and you’ll get the chance to see a series of beautiful cascading waterfalls. This easy hike is best experienced in autumn when the leaves turn and the forest is at its best.

    Family Hikes In Colorado

    Sugarloaf Mountain Hike: The iconic Sugarloaf Mountain provides one of the best views of Rocky Mountain National Park, and is a short, family-friendly hike that kids of all ages will enjoy. There are a few steep switchbacks but it’s a manageable trek and the views are simply magnificent.

    Enchanted Forest Trail Hike: If you’re looking for a magical day out with the kids, you can’t go wrong with this trail through the Enchanted Forest in Apex Park, Denver. At 9.3km it’s a relatively long walk for kids, but the sights, sounds, and smells of this otherworldly forest will keep them distracted! If they’ve still got some energy at the end of the hike, visit the Heritage Amusement Park for more fun and games.

    Day Hikes In Colorado

    Buckskin Pass Hike: If you only have time to do one hike in the Aspen region, make this incredible day hike to the top of Buckskin Pass. Beginning at the stunning Maroon Lake, the trail rises steeply up past the Geneva Lake Trail. Once you finally reach the top, after a somewhat grueling climb, you’ll get a magnificent panorama across to Snowmass Mountain.

    Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes Hike: Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places for hiking in the United States, and this wonderful day hike will take you on a tour of some of the park’s stunning lakes. Take in the lovely Nymph Lake, covered in floating lilies, and marvel at the way in which Hallett Peak is reflected in the waters of Emerald Lake. However, the best views are reserved for the trail up to Lake Haiyaha. This hike is accessible, varied, and one of the most popular in the park.

    Challenging Hikes In Colorado

    Lone Eagle Peak Hike: One of our favorite challenging hikes in Colorado is the stunning Lone Eagle Peak in the Indian Peaks region. This epic trek takes you across some rugged terrain, past tumbling waterfalls and glacier-fed alpine lakes. Lone Eagle Peak is known as Colorado’s most picturesque mountain and this hike shows it off at its best, reflected in the crystal waters of Mirror Lake.

    Gore Lake Trail: The beautiful alpine Gore Lake is the destination on this challenging hike, and you’ll need plenty of energy in order to reach it. Although the first part of the route through the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area is relatively easy and family-friendly, after 6.9km the trail rises steeply, ascending the valley through the forest. Look out for mountain goats when you reach the top and enjoy a well-deserved rest at the stunning Gore Lake.

    Best Hikes In Colorado

    Cathedral Lake Hike: Do you have a head for heights? Then why not try this amazing trek to Cathedral Lake, a stunning alpine lake at the base of Cathedral Mountain. The route to the top is fairly strenuous, but the rewards are incomparable. Enjoy views over Malemute Peak, Leahy Peak, and the ridges and crags of the Rocky Mountains.

    Bear Peak: Looking for a hiking challenge and one of the best treks in Boulder? This Bear Peak hike is an epic climb up some steep and rocky terrain, but the views at the top are a fitting reward. Bear Peak is one of the five tallest peaks along the Boulder Front Range and a great option for hikers looking to get in shape for more adventurous treks.

    Beaver Brook Trail: There are many fantastic hiking trails in Denver, but this exciting route along the Beaver Brook Trail is one of our favorites. It’s not too challenging, but you’ll need to cross a few creeks and do a little scrambling over the rocks and ledges. You’ll be hiking along a route lined with pine trees and populated by birds, butterflies and all kinds of wildlife. Look out for the buffalo herd along I-70!

    Arapaho Glacier Trail Hike: This incredible hike will lead you all the way to the Arapaho Glacier and offers an incredible view of the Continental Divide and Indian Peaks. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted and you may need hiking poles to help you get to the top. The hike may be steep, but the views are truly epic.

    Bluebird Lake Hike: If you’re looking for a way to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park, this beautiful hike may be just what you need. Bluebird Lake is in the lesser-known Wild Basin region of the park and features dense pine forests, cascading waterfalls, and some of the most breathtaking views in the park.

    Pitkin Lake Trail Hike: Looking for a great day of hiking in Vail? Look no further than this adventurous day hike through the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area. There are a few steep climbs, but the hike isn’t too strenuous, with plenty of variety. The route takes you from rushing creeks and aspen forests to beautiful meadows and tranquil alpine lakes. The dramatic view at Pitkin Lake is worth all your efforts and makes this one of the best hikes in Colorado.

    Crater Lake Hike: The trek out to Crater Lake is an Aspen classic and a must for anyone who wants to escape the crowds of Maroon Lake. This trail will lead you down a less-traveled road where you can see North Maroon Peak from a different angle. The fantastic vista at the east side of Crater Lake is simply stunning.

    Lair o’the Bear Park: This fun hike offers everything of the best that Colorado has to offer – a gorgeous forest hike, views of snow-capped peaks, and a secret castle hidden away in the hills! Dunafon Castle is a restored castle nestled in the gorgeous Colorado scenery, and this hike offers the best view of its enigmatic towers. The hike is an enjoyable, moderate trek and the perfect way to spend an afternoon outdoors.

    Lake Dorothy Hike: Set against the incredible backdrop of Mount Neva in the Indian Peaks, Lake Dorothy is one of the prettiest lakes in Colorado. The trail leads you up through thick pine forests until it rises above the treeline, revealing some incredible vistas over the craggy mountains. Lake Dorothy, surrounded by these epic peaks, is simply stunning.

    Lake Haiyaha: Lake Haiyaha is one of the finest gems in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the steep hike up to it is a treat for keen trekkers. The lake itself is surrounded by boulders and jagged rocks, and a series of magnificent peaks form a remarkable backdrop. You’ll get an incredible view of Chaos Canyon and the two mountains that rise on either side: Otis Peak and Hallet Peak.

    When Is The Best Time To Hike In Colorado?

    Colorado’s diverse terrain means that hiking is possible in some areas throughout the year. Low-elevation trails in the foothills close to the big cities are accessible even through the winter, as are some of the trails in the eastern grasslands and western deserts. In the Rocky Mountains, the hiking season usually runs from late spring to fall, although you should expect the highest trails to only be open between July and September. Early or late snows can also affect possibilities for hiking during the shoulder season. As with any mountain hiking, always check the weather forecast and take advice from local guides before you set off.

    In the west of the state, the mountains tail off into orange desert canyons and plateaus, creating very different conditions for hiking. Here the best seasons for hiking are spring and fall, to avoid the blazing summer sun. These desert trails are best avoided in the extreme weather of summer and winter, as conditions can change quickly, unexpectedly cutting off trails.

    Best Regions For Hiking in Colorado

    Colorado boasts some of the most incredible scenery in the United States and is blessed with several amazing regions for hiking. Many hikers are drawn here for the splendor of Rocky Mountain National Park, 265,000 acres of epic mountains, crystal lakes, cascading waterfalls, and wide, grassy meadows. Nearby Denver might be a big city, but it offers easy access to some fabulous walking trails, teeming with wildlife.

    Boulder and Aspen are also popular cities that offer fantastic opportunities for hiking, especially if you’re looking for accessible, family-friendly trails. Vail might be best known as a ski resort, but in the summer months you’ll find vast meadows of wildflowers and beautiful forested hillsides. Finally, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is perhaps Colorado’s finest hidden gem, a lesser-visited region with some rewarding and challenging hikes over rugged, wild terrain.

    Other Outdoor Activities in Colorado

    Although hiking is one of the most popular things to do, there are many other outdoor activities in Colorado! The area around Boulder is perfect for mountain biking and road biking, as well as offering fabulous hiking opportunities. If you like to ski and snowboard, head to Vail, or try your hand at snowshoeing in the Indian Peaks. Alternatively, head to Rocky Mountain National Park for some really fun scrambles.

    How To Plan A Trip To Colorado

    Are you ready to plan your hiking trip to Colorado? If you’re looking for advice, top tips, and recommendations, why not check out our Indian Peaks guide, Aspen guide, Denver guide, Rocky Mountain National Park guide, Vail guide, and Boulder guide! We’ve put together everything you need to know, from transport advice to recommended trails and guides. Planning a hiking trip has never been so easy!

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    Hiking regions in Colorado

    Best Hikes in Colorado

    Showing 21 to 40 of 1,000+
      Open details for Sand Dunes Loop Trail

      Sand Dunes Loop Trail

      Moderate
      8.0 km
      226 m
      2-3h

      A distinct change from Colorado’s quintessential alpine hikes, the Sand Dunes Loop Trail traverses the sandy terrain, boasting breathtaking panoramic vistas. This intermediate hike enables hikers of most skill levels and ages to enjoy the incredible ascent along the ridgeline of North America’s tallest sand dunes.

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      Open details for Rainbow Falls

      Rainbow Falls

      Very Easy
      0.8 km
      31 m
      0.5h

      Rainbow Falls exhibits a beautiful scene of Fountain Creek cascading over orange-hued rocks and the towering historic bridge decorated with vibrant graffiti. This short but sweet trail near Colorado Springs is a crowd favorite escape into the fresh air.

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      Open details for Mount Bierstadt Hike

      Mount Bierstadt Hike

      Very Hard
      11.6 km
      824 m
      4.5-6h

      The Mount Bierstadt hike is a popular trail and a great introduction to hiking a Colorado 14er. If you are hiking in the early or late part of the season be sure to be ready for some snow and ice as you hike this spectacular Colorado peak!

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      10.0
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Open details for Pitkin Lake Trail

      Pitkin Lake Trail

      Hard
      15.6 km
      837 m
      5-7h

      Pitkin Lake Trail makes for an adventure-filled day hike. The gorgeous trail starts off steep, but it quickly (after roughly 1.6 km) levels out. Gradually, the trail ascends the valley, past two waterfalls, to the stunning lake that sits below East and West Partner (two 3,960 m peaks).

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.9
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Open details for 1st Flatiron

      1st Flatiron

      Easy
      4.2 km
      472 m
      2-3h

      The 1st Flatiron hike is the most popular trail in Boulder. This hike is popular for a reason, it’s a great hike! Starting just outside of town, this short hike takes you to one of Boulder’s most recognizable natural features, the 1st Flatiron. This large blade of rock is beautiful and impressive. Make sure to bring your camera on this hike!

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.8
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Open details for Lost Man Trail

      Lost Man Trail

      Moderate
      7.4 km
      390 m
      2.5-3.5h

      This is another super high hike in the Colorado Rockies; however, access in on the high Independence Pass Highway reduces the elevation you have to gain yourself!

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.7
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Open details for Painted Wall Lookout Trail

      Painted Wall Lookout Trail

      Very Easy
      0.3 km
      2 m
      0.5h

      The Painted Wall Lookout Trail leads to an impressive panoramic viewpoint of the natural wonder. The Painted Wall is so grand and inciting that it will impress visitors of any age. From river to rim the gneiss cliff is woven with white ribbons of pegmatite marbling. Some might even say it resembles a tasty, marbled steak. But that is the beauty of this wall, people interpret the marbling in various ways, from steak, to paint brush strokes or dragons.

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      Open details for Grizzly and Cupid Peaks Hike

      Grizzly and Cupid Peaks Hike

      Hard
      10.8 km
      802 m
      4-6h

      The Grizzly and Cupid Peak Hike is an ambitious climb to the Continental Divide and up two peaks. Though demanding, these vistas from atop the pass are breathtaking, though we aren’t really sure if it’s the scenic views or the high altitude taking our breath away. Nevertheless, we love this hike through the Front Range, and you will too.

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      Open details for Lower, Middle, and Upper Blue Lakes Hike

      Lower, Middle, and Upper Blue Lakes Hike

      Hard
      14.0 km
      765 m
      4.5-6.5h

      The Lower, Middle, and Upper Blue Lakes Hike is a spectacular adventure in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado that will take you up to a series of alpine lakes. While out hiking the trail, you will make your way uphill through the forests and meadows along the East Fork Dallas Creek, before arriving at the Blue Lakes and the imposing Mount Sneffels looming overhead. Although challenging, this is a fantastic route to experience some truly beautiful Colorado scenery.

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      Open details for Oh Be Joyful Trail

      Oh Be Joyful Trail

      Hard
      22.4 km
      697 m
      6-8.5h

      The Oh be Joyful Trail is a wonderfully scenic, long distance hiking route in the Elk Mountains of Colorado that will take you up to a charming lake. While out walking the trail, you will pass through a valley that is flanked by rugged mountain peaks, as you follow the Oh Be Joyful Creek up to the tranquil shores of Blue Lake. This route and the surrounding area are not accessible in the winter months, due to snowy and dangerous conditions.

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      Open details for Turquoise Lake Trail

      Turquoise Lake Trail

      Easy
      17.7 km
      132 m
      3.5-5h

      Immerse yourself in nature and enjoy sights of the snow-capped Sawatch Mountain Range peaks as you venture the Turquoise Lake Trail. This impressively scenic adventure through the high country exhibits the diversity of the Colorado wilderness. Trek along the shores of the alpine lake encircled by lodgepole pines and revel in the views of the craggy summits in the background. This unique experience is a must-add to your Leadville itinerary.

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      Open details for Mosca Pass Trail

      Mosca Pass Trail

      Moderate
      10.3 km
      445 m
      3-4.5h

      Hiking the Mosca Pass Trail is a great adventure in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. A welcome variation from the park’s quintessential dune expeditions, this trek boasts breathtaking views that reveal the enormity of the sand dunes and the lofty snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

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      Open details for The Crags Trail

      The Crags Trail

      Easy
      7.7 km
      250 m
      2-3h

      The Crags Trail is a stunning backcountry excursion near Divide, CO. Travel through dense pine woodlands, along the Fourmile Creek, past granite outcroppings, and up to bristlecone forests to the protruding granite columns nicknamed “The Crags”. This unique geological feature attracts adventurers of all sorts seeking a more up close and personal view of the rusty-colored pillars.

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      Open details for Arapaho Glacier Trail

      Arapaho Glacier Trail

      Very Hard
      20.9 km
      851 m
      6-8.5h

      The hike on this high alpine trail leads you to an overlook of Arapaho Glacier and one of the best views of the Continental Divide and Indian Peaks. Trail ends at the saddle of South Arapaho Peak. It’s a tough hike though; you'll want to bring hiking poles for this one.

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      10.0
      Technical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Advanced (Diamond)
      Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
      Open details for Sky Pond and Lake of Glass

      Sky Pond and Lake of Glass

      Hard
      13.6 km
      526 m
      4-5.5h

      The Sky Pond and Lake of Glass hike is a favorite hike for locals. Get a beautiful glimpse of Rocky Mountain National Park on this fun, yet challenging hike that takes you by stunning lakes and to a waterfall and two beautiful hidden lakes! We think it's one of the best hikes in the USA.

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.9
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Open details for Mount Evans

      Mount Evans

      Moderate
      13.7 km
      430 m
      3.5-5h

      The Mount Evans hike takes you to 4,348 m, with the route going along the West Ridge via Mt. Spalding is an epic hike that will provide separation from the crowds on this popular Colorado 14er!

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.9
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Open details for West Maroon Pass

      West Maroon Pass

      Very Hard
      23.4 km
      1,182 m
      7.5-10.5h

      One of the classic long hikes though the Maroon Bells Wilderness, the trek up to West Maroon Pass is certainly not one to miss. Be forewarned, however, that there are two gnarly creek crossings that separate you from the prize of this high alpine pass.

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.9
      Technical Difficulty
      Intermediate (Square)
      Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Advanced (Diamond)
      Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
      Open details for Shrine Ridge Trail

      Shrine Ridge Trail

      Easy
      5.5 km
      206 m
      1.5-2h

      Shrine Ridge Trail gradually hikes through lush pine meadows, passing two small ponds, to Shrine Ridge. The Shrine Ridge leads to the top of Shrine Mountain (elevation 3,580 m). You’ll get incredible views, considering it’s such a short hike.

      User Ratings
      Overall Rating
      9.9
      Technical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Physical Difficulty
      Easy (Circle)
      Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
      Open details for Gunnison Route Hike

      Gunnison Route Hike

      Hard
      2.9 km
      543 m
      2-3h

      The Gunnison Route is a stimulating excursion down the ridge of the Black Canyon to the Gunnison River. This hike is reserved for experienced hikers who won’t shy away from steep, challenging and rocky terrain. We love this hike! Get your daily dose of adrenaline and then some as you scale the rocky terrain down into the river by navigating tightly wound switchbacks and using a chain rope to guide you down loose terrain. This excursion may be tricky, but man is it fun!

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      Open details for Loveland Pass Lake Trail

      Loveland Pass Lake Trail

      Very Easy
      1.3 km
      21 m
      0.5h

      The Loveland Pass Lake Trail is an awesome little hike around the Pass Lake and two other small basins. Hike this scenic trail with your little ones and keep an eye out for pika, marmots and even mountain goats as you loop around the lakes. Hemmed by craggy cliffs, this scenic path is one for the books.

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