Best hiking trails in Denver, Colorado
Selection of hiking routes from Denver, Colorado

hikes in Denver

Region in Colorado, United States
Denver trail map

Nestled close to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is the gateway to one of the best hiking regions in the world. With trails that extend right up into the Colorado Front Range, you’ll find an incredible diversity of hikes close to the city, with some truly jaw-dropping views. Surrender to the stunning beauty of this remarkable part of the world.

Hiking in Denver is pure joy, with some epic, iconic hikes. The Front Range is known for its large number of ‘14ers’ (peaks rising above 14,000 feet), and Colorado is actually home to 15 mountain peaks that meet this category. If you’re a keen hiker anxious to get some 14ers under your belt, Denver is an excellent jumping-off point into the mountains. The views from this altitude are simply epic, and make the strenuous climb well worth the effort.

Hiking in Denver brings associated challenges, not least of which is the potential impact of altitude on your ability to enjoy your hike. It’s important to take precautions when attempting to scale a high peak, and to know your limits. However, hiking in this region is a great training ground if you’re planning a big trekking adventure at altitude in the future.

The Rocky Mountain foothills don’t just contain epic, high peaks. You’ll find lush parks, strange areas of bare red rock, natural amphitheaters and glittering lakes. Wander through magical forests or go wildlife watching in beautiful areas of pure wilderness. This is the place to enjoy those quintessential Colorado landscapes, and discover yet another side to the Rocky Mountains.

What are you waiting for? Start exploring this beautiful region today. To give you a little inspiration, we’ve put together a list of all our favorite Denver hikes, to suit all ages and ability levels. Happy hiking!

Types Of Hiking In Denver

There are so many different types of hiking in Denver, there’s sure to be a trail to suit every visitor. Just outside the city, you’ll find plenty of beautiful parks, some of which have their own distinctive features and characteristics, such as Red Rocks Park. Although you’re still close to town, you’ll feel as though you’re out in the backcountry, with lots of accessible and easy trails, just perfect for families. Further afield, you’ll find everything from easy forest strolls to epic mountain hikes, and plenty in between. If you’re an experienced hiker, Denver is the perfect playground to improve your fitness, train for hiking at altitude, and explore new trails, all with epic views across the Colorado Front Range. However, if you’re a beginner, don’t worry – you won’t need to climb too high in Denver to experience some incredible panoramic views.

Easy Hikes In Denver

Matthew/Winters Park Hike: This relatively easy trail is a local favorite, as it’s a good way to get your heart pumping but not so long or strenuous that it will take up the whole day. You’ll pass along the Red Rocks Trail, and into Cherry Gulch, before ascending a series of switchbacks with wonderful views. Watch out for snakes along the trail!

Red Rocks Park Hike: Red Rocks Park is a geological marvel, littered with beautiful sandstone monoliths, and lovely hiking trails. This route passes around some of these beautiful natural rock formations, and taking in the remarkable amphitheater, the site of regular concerts. If you can, time your visit to take in a show – this is a truly memorable experience on any trip to Denver!

Family Hikes In Denver

Bear Creek State Park Hike: Bear Creek State Park is a wonderful place for a family outing, and this peaceful trail is suitable for all hikers, whatever their age! The route is shaded and runs alongside the river, and there are plenty of other activities on offer, including swimming, camping and horseback riding.

Enchanted Forest Trail Hike: As the name suggests, walking through the Enchanted Forest is like stepping into a fairy tale. The sights, sounds and scents of this atmospheric forest are simply magical, and older kids will love this trail. The route is relatively long but not too strenuous, and the nearby Heritage Amusement Park is also a great place for families to visit for a post-hike treat!

Day Hikes In Denver

Grays Peak and Torreys Peak Hike: This popular route is one of the best day hikes in Denver, and will allow you to tick off two of the famous Colorado 14ers (peaks over 4267m) in one day! You’ll need to be well prepared, fit, and acclimatized to the altitude, as this hike will take you high up into the mountains. However, the rewards are absolutely thrilling – incredible views over dark, looming peaks.

Elk Meadow Park Hike: Looking for a beautiful day hike in Denver with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting? The Elk Meadow Park hike will take you through fragrant pine forest and expansive meadows with stunning mountain views. Keep your eyes open and you may catch a glimpse of an elk or two along the way! Don’t miss the opportunity to spend a little time in the quaint nearby town of Evergreen.

Challenging Hikes In Denver

Mount Falcon Park Hike: This challenging route is unique, offering stunning views and a set of intriguing historical ruins amidst the beautiful landscape. These ruins might look like an old castle, but they are actually the remains of the Walker Ranch, built by entrepreneur John Brisben Walker in the early 20th century. You’ll need plenty of energy, as this hike involves some steep ascents, but there’s plenty to distract you along the way.

Mount Bierstadt Hike: This wonderful route is one of the best challenging hikes in Denver, and is deservedly popular. It’s a challenging trail but you’ll enjoy some beautiful, expansive views over the wild countryside, and it’s an excellent introduction to the famous Colorado 14ers. The steep climb is well worth the effort, giving you panoramic views over the Colorado Front Range and Mount Evans.

Best Hikes In Denver

Chicago Lakes Hike: This wonderful hike, deep in Colorado’s high country, is one of the best hikes in Denver if you’re looking for a little peace in the wilderness. The trail runs parallel to Chicago Creek, before ascending high up to the base of Chicago Lakes. The upper lake is surrounding by a striking cirque, offering spectacular mountain views.

Mount Evans Hike: This epic route is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying hikes in this part of Colorado, climbing all the way to 4348m at the summit of Mount Evans. The trail is somewhat challenging, involving a steep climb, high altitude and some scrambling in places, but the rewards are truly jaw dropping. At the summit you’ll have a mountain vista that will take your breath away.

St. Mary’s Glacier Hike: This short hike is an excellent option for families, involving a fun hike through the dense pine forest. You’ll pass alongside Saint Mary’s Lake until the start of Silver Creek, before arriving at St. Mary’s Glacier – which is, in fact, not actually a glacier but a permanent snow mass. Climb up to the lovely alpine meadow at the base of James Peak for a wonderful view over the Colorado Front Range.

Beaver Brook Trail: The Beaver Brook Trail is a Colorado classic – beautiful scenery, wild flowers, rocky trails and exciting river crossings, all in one route! Older kids will love this trail, and there really is something to please everyone along the way. Keep your eyes open for the buffalo herd that can sometimes be seen close to the trailhead.

Lair O’ The Bear Park Hike: This moderate hike is an excellent option for beginner hikers looking for a little challenge and some stellar views. You’ll pass alongside a lively river, through dense forest, and finally ascend all the way to Panorama Point for some epic views. Don’t miss the beautifully restored Dunafon Castle, which can be seen from the section of the hike that passes along the Bear Creek Trail.

Centennial Cone Park Hike: This popular park is a firm local favorite, and it’s not difficult to see why. You’ll find 24km of trails passing through beautiful scenery, which can be adapted for short out-and-back trails or longer loops. Don’t forget to check the calendar, as on alternate weekends hikers and horseback riders are prohibited to allow bikers their turn on the trail.

North Table Park Hike: North Table Mountain Park is situated just outside Golden, CO, providing access to the beautiful surrounding foothills. This loop hike offers lovely views and varied, satisfying terrain, with something to please all hikers. You’ll finally emerge at the Cottonwood Canyon Trail, taking you all the way to the top of the mesa for a fabulous view.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Denver?

Denver’s climate is slightly warmer than other areas of Colorado, particularly the Rocky Mountain National Park, which gives slightly more flexibility when it comes to hiking. That said, the main hiking season runs from late spring to fall, depending on which trails you choose and how high you expect to climb. The snows clear early in the Rocky Mountain foothills close to the city, but higher elevation trails may still be covered in snow in early June. July and August often experience a somewhat unpredictable rainy season, with heavy showers in the afternoons, and this can cause problems if you get caught in the rain out on the trail. Try to avoid popular public holidays, as many trails can become extremely crowded, especially when the weather is good!

Other Outdoor Activities In Denver

Colorado is an ideal destination for adventurous travelers, and in addition to hiking, there are lots of other fun outdoor activities in Denver! From hiking and backpacking, to rock climbing, road biking, mountain biking and horseback riding, there’s something for everyone here. You’ll also find opportunities for white water rafting, kayaking, and plenty of excursions into the Rocky Mountain National Park. In winter, it’s time to throw yourself into winter sports, with cross country and downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing all on offer.

How To Plan A Trip To Denver

If you can hear the Rocky Mountain foothills calling, it’s time to put Denver on your hiking bucket list! The good news is that we’ve done all the hard work so you can focus on dreaming about your trip. Check out our guide to planning a trip to Denver, complete with recommendations for where to stay and eat in and around the city. We love this beautiful corner of Colorado, and we’re sure that you will too.

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Denver

How can I hike in Denver without a car?

One of the best things about hiking in Denver is that there are many hiking trails that can be accessed via public transport, without the need for your own car. For example, the hikes listed above at North Table Mountain, or those close to Golden, can be reached by public transport from Denver.

How should you prepare for high elevation hikes?

Preparation is key when tackling a high mountain, and many of the peaks close to Denver reach high elevations where you’ll need to spend some time adjusting to the altitude. Make sure that you understand the risks and the signs of altitude sickness, take time to acclimatize by building in rest days at altitude, and take it slow, especially at first. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and during your hike.

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The best hikes in Denver

Chicago Lakes hike near Denver, Colorado

01. Chicago Lakes Hike
Difficulty

17.1km 846m 5-7h

The Chicago Lakes Hike, near Denver, takes you to Colorado’s high country! The trail winds… Read More

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10Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery on Grays Peak and Torreys Peak hike near Denver, Colorado

02. Grays Peak and Torreys Peak Trail
Difficulty

12.7km 1,073m 6-8h

Hiking Grays Peak and Torreys Peak is a popular intro hike to the famous Colorado… Read More

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9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery on Mount Bierstadt hike near Denver, Colorado

03. Mount Bierstadt Hike
Difficulty

11.6km 824m 5.5-7h

The Mount Bierstadt hike is a popular trail and a great introduction to hiking a… Read More

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Scenery on Mount Evans hike in Denver, Colorado

04. Mount Evans
Difficulty

8.5km 430m 3-5h

The Mount Evans hike takes you to 4348m, with the route going along… Read More

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9.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Great scenery on St. Mary's Glacier hike in Denver, Colorado

05. St. Mary's Glacier
Difficulty

2.3km 133m 1-2h

The hike to St. Mary’s Glacier is a great family day out! St Mary’s Glacier… Read More

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Scenery from the Beaver Brook to Chavez Trail loop hike near Denver, Colorado

06. Beaver Brook Trail
Difficulty

8.3km 383m 2.5-3.5h

You will just love the Beaver Brook Trail as adventure is the nature of this… Read More

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9.6Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery on the Lair o' the Bear Park hike near Denver, Colorado

07. Lair o' the Bear Park
Difficulty

11.6km 335m 3-5.5h

The perfect example of a Colorado trail, Lair o’ the Bear Park provides a great… Read More

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9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Centennial Cone Park hike in Denver, Colorado

08. Centennial Cone Park Hike
Difficulty

7.7km 348m 2-4h

Encompassing over 24.1km of multi-use trails, Centennial Cone encompasses the beauty of Clear… Read More

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9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Red Rocks Park trail in Denver

09. Red Rocks Park
Difficulty

2.4km 120m 1-1.5h

Hike around, over and through the beautiful sandstone red rocks that make up the Red… Read More

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9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenic views from the Mount Falcon Park hike in Denver, Colorado

10. Mount Falcon Park Trail
Difficulty

15.1km 557m 5-7.5h

Mount Falcon Park is a challenging trail that’s not short on elevation gain; however, this… Read More

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9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

Yes, there are more than 10

Denver is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Denver that you should take a look at as well

Scenery from the Elk Meadow Park hike near Denver, Colorado

11. Elk Meadow Park
Difficulty

17.2km 565m 5-7h

Walk through the meadows and forests of Evergreen. Hike to the top of Bergen Peak.… Read More

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9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenic views from the North Table Mountain Park hike in Denver, Colorado

12. North Table Park
Difficulty

11.7km 322m 3-5h

Acting as a gateway, the North and South Mesas are the entrance to the foothills… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Hiking trail in the Enchanted Forest, Denver

13. Enchanted Forest Trail
Difficulty

9.3km 411m 3.5-5.5h

In the Enchanted Forest, the sights, smells and sounds will make you feel like you’re… Read More

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9.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Matthew/Winters Park hike in Denver, Colorado

14. Matthew/Winters Park
Difficulty

7.7km 221m 2-4h

Many locals hike to this trail after work or in the morning before heading in… Read More

User Rating

9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenic views from the Bear Creek State Park hike near Denver, Colorado

15. Bear Creek State Park
Difficulty

6.8km 39m 1.5-3h

This State Park has activities for the whole family and a peaceful hiking trail to… Read More

User Rating

10Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

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