hikes in Denver
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!
15 Greatest Hikes Around 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.
- 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 amphitheatre, 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.Read More
The best hikes in Denver
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
Are we missing your favourite hike?
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