10 Best Day Hikes Near Denver

With Denver’s close proximity to mountains, hiking is one of the most popular local pastimes. Being able to take a post work hike that ends with some serious views and stunning sunsets, is just one of many perks we hold dear here in Colorado. If you don’t even know where to begin exploring or are looking for some new adventures to take, try out a few of our favorites hikes listed below.

Hanging Lake

Perched on the edge of Glenwood Canyon’s cliffs is Hanging Lake, one of Colorado’s most popular hiking trails. The trail head is about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, along I-70. The trail itself is only about a mile long, but due to the steep incline you should allow yourself around 2 hours to reach your destination. Along the way you will not only experience beautiful views, but also come across a must-see hidden waterfall called Spouting Rock. With the crystal clear turquoise lake and lush over-hanging garden at the top, it’s easy to see why people come from miles around to catch a glimpse of this awe-inspiring beauty.

Horseshoe Trail at Golden Gate Canyon

Looking for a peaceful place to observe Colorado wildlife or catch vibrant wildflowers in full bloom? If so, Horseshoe trail is the ideal spot to escape the city and connect with nature. It winds you along a bed of babbling streams, guides you through well shaded Aspen groves and out into spacious meadows. This is a wonderful 4 mile hike perfect for experienced and non-experienced hikers alike. Located about 30 minutes outside of Denver, Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers some of the best mountain views close to the city. Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all permitted, along with hunting, camping, fishing, and rock climbing.

Royal Arch Trail at Chautauqua Park

Chautauqua Park is the most impressive of all the local Boulder hiking systems. During the weekends, locals and tourists alike descend on this park causing it to become overly crowded. To get the open space feel, hike this trail in the early morning or on a weekday. The Royal Arch Trail is a true test of leg and lung. After a quick drop into Blue Bell Canyon, the trail begins the steep climb through conifer forests up to a beautiful sandstone arch. Once at the top, the staggering views of the flatiron rock structures and the city of Boulder below are unmatched.

Calypso Cascades at Rocky Mountain National Park

This moderate hike has several destinations on the way to the top, each more impressive than the last. Beginning at the Wild Basin trail head, this trail guides you past the Copeland Falls to Calypso Cascades. These roaring falls are spectacular during spring run-off season, with water pouring down 100 feet over rocks and fallen trees. Thanks to a log bridge, you can stand right in the middle to experience the full force of Cony Creek. If you have time and are feeling adventurous, this trail will also take you up to Ouzel Falls, which drops more than 40 feet through a cut in dark a rock wall.

Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

The best part of this trail is that it is gorgeous year round! Hiking this easy, 1.5 mile loop will take you around 10 of the park’s majestic red rock formations. You’ll witness stunning views of Denver and beyond. Bring loved ones from out of town to experience the beauty of Colorado’s most iconic landmarks. While you’re at it, bring your dog along too! Just remember: while it might be tempting, you are not allowed to play on the rocks.

Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough Park

The Fountain Valley Trail is the Garden of the Gods of Denver featuring towering slabs of red rock formations. It’s more secluded than Red Rocks, with off-shooting trails taking you beyond park boundaries! It is an easy hike that loops through beautiful open meadows that offer a variety of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Be on the look-out for mule deer, haws, fox, and eagles.

Alderfer/Three Sisters Park

40 minutes from Denver, near the heart of Evergreen, Alderfer/Three Sister Park flourishes with stunning vistas, landmark rock formations, and beautiful Ponderosa Pines. Meadows burst with wildflowers in late spring and early summer. It is perfect for bird watching turkey vultures, Cooper’s hawks, mountain bluebirds, and Steller’s Jays. With nearly 15 miles of trails in the 770 acre park there are trails for beginners and experts alike!

St. Mary’s Glacier

Located about 9 miles outside of Idaho Springs is St. Mary’s Glacier, one of Clear Creek County’s most popular destinations. This short hike ascends through a beautiful forest and ends at St. Mary’s Lake with incredible panoramic views. You can  stop there, or hike past the lake, up the glacier to gain stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. Hikers of all skill levels will enjoy this hike, and it’s a great way to beat the summer heat!

Enchanted Forest Trail, Apex Park

Only a few miles from downtown, the Enchanted Forest is one of the less traveled trails in Golden’s Apex Park. The trail begins with a steady climb before descending through a lush evergreen forest. It also features a river with wonderful views down the canyon. This peaceful and relaxing hike is also a great way to test your readiness for the back country. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horses alike use the trail so be on the lookout for traffic!

Chimney Gulch Trail

This demanding hike up will test your limits crossing streams and zigzaging up Lookout Mountain. The close proximity to the city makes it a popular spot, but also means it’s quite easy to hit an after-work hike. The views off the mountain vista will be worth the effort trekking this steep trail. It’s the perfect place for viewing sunsets, complete with benches. This trail can be done two ways: either from Windy Saddle to Golden (downhill first), or from Golden to Windy Saddle (uphill first). It should be noted that this is a mixed-use trail which sees heavy use by mountain bikers.



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