In Colorado, you’re never far off from nature’s beauty. Often just a short drive, or even a short walk from wherever you are yields impressive views. Near Denver, Colorado, there are 8 hiking trails that I love and I’m sure you’ll love them too. Check them out!
1. St. Mary’s Glacier LoopLocated near Idaho Springs in the Arapaho National Forest, this beautiful 1.6 mile hike leads you to a glacier-fed lake surrounded by willows and wildlife. The trail does tend to be rocky but it’s still a fairly easy hike.
When you reach the lake, another trail will take you up to the glacier itself and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see some cool wildlife like elk and bighorn sheep. Bring a camera because you’re going to want to remember this epic hike.
2. Mount Goliath Research Natural Area
Its name may not be charming, but this area is a treasure, peppered with thousand-year-old bristlecone pines. Being near these ancients is a humbling experience, a reminder of our impermanence and their near-permanence.
There are a few different trails you can take, some shorter, some longer, some easier, some harder. I recommend the alpine loop as it’s pretty moderate difficulty and it takes you right through the heart of the bristlecones.
3. Golden Gate Canyon
Golden Gate Canyon is the perfect day-trip getaway for individuals and families alike. It’s only a half hour away from Denver, making it an easy trip if you have kids in tow, and it offers more than 36 miles of hiking trails.
4. Royal Arch TrailThe royal arch is an absolute must-see. It gives you a perfect view of the city of Boulder as well as Colorado’s front range. The trail can be found in Boulder’s Chautauqua park and is about 3.4 miles start to finish.
This is a fairly popular trail, so weekends and early mornings leaves it feeling a little crowded, but midday on a Wednesday I’ve found is a perfect time to escape with few people around.
5. Roxborough State Park
State parks are often some of the most underappreciated places in the country. National parks get all the attention. But that’s fine with me, because state parks tend to be less visited and sometimes are more pristine. That’s one reason I love Roxborough State Park.
The park features a very easy trail, Fountain Valley Trail. It’s 2.2 miles, goes in a loop, and is perfect if you want to enjoy nature without a bunch of huffing and puffing.
6. Ouzel Falls
What kind of list would this be if I didn’t include at least one waterfall? Ouzel Falls is a really fascinating place for a few reasons. It’s home to an extremely rare orchid, the “fairy slipper orchid.” It’s not easy to find, so you’re going to have to look pretty hard.
The orchid only flowers in mid summer, usually late June to early July. But it’s not the only cool feature of this hike. There are also tons of wildflowers and of course, Ouzel Falls. I recommend carving out a good amount of time for this hike though. If you want to get to the falls, it’s about 5.4 miles of hiking.