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Denver is one of the most famous cities in the United States for outdoor activities, and there’s no question why: the mountains, forests, and rivers nearby are nothing short of spectacular. Whether you’re a Denver local or are visiting to experience Colorado’s wild beauty, hiking near Denver is a great way to get outdoors and explore. We created this list of our favorite hikes near Denver so you can plan your next hiking adventure ASAP! (Trust us, it was nearly impossible to narrow our list down to just 25 hikes in Denver and the surrounding areas.)

Photo Credit: Lee Coursey (Flickr CC)

Easy Hikes Near Denver

Castle Rock Trail

  • Trail Length: 1.3 miles
  • Location: Castle Rock Park

Located in Castle Rock, Colorado, this Castle Rock hike is one of the most accessible and fun hikes near Denver, which leads to a strange rock formation. At just over 30 minutes from Denver, this short hiking trail is accessible to all levels of hikers – there’s a bit of a steep ascent, but the views at the top are absolutely worth it! Along the way, there are lots of rocks for scrambling and climbing (but be careful and only do so if you know how!).

Clear Creek Trail

  • Trail Length: 20.1 miles one way
  • Location: Golden, CO

The Clear Creek Trail is a long distance trail that extends from Golden, CO to Commerce City along a beautiful creek. Locals love this trail for mountain biking, trail running, and hiking near Denver. Along the paths, you’ll find scenic views, forested areas, bridges, and lots of opportunities for viewing native wildlife. Of course, you could hike the entire trail, or you could break it up in sections, exploring different parts of the area as separate out-and-back hikes.

Photo Credit: Rob Lee (Flickr CC)

Three Sisters Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.8 to 6.7 miles
  • Location: Evergreen, CO

Located near Evergreen, CO, the Three Sisters Trail is a popular, extremely scenic hike that brings hikers of all levels to some stunning mountain viewpoints and rock formations. While the trail does require a gradual ascent, we’d recommend it for all levels of hikers, including families and beginners! At the top, you’ll find a large rock formation that’s surrounded by evergreen trees and large boulders, perfect for exploring and photos!

The Three Sisters Trail is one of the best year-round hikes near Denver; we tackled it in the winter and had tons of fun in the snowy pine forests and majestic boulder areas.

Coyote Song Loop

  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Location: South Valley Park

For a short hike that’s got a little bit of everything, head to the Coyote Song Loop. This flat loop hike wraps around a serene lake and up to some very beautiful rock formations. Perfect for families and beginners, we’d recommend this trail to those looking for diverse views over a short distance. Because it’s an easy and beautiful trail, it does get very, very crowded, so head out early to maximize your experience and have the trails more or less to yourself.

Photo Credit: sk (Flickr CC)

Red Rocks Trading Post Loop

  • Trail Length: 1.5 miles
  • Location: Red Rocks Park

Known for its outdoor amphitheater and concert venue, Red Rocks Park is a beautiful, breathtaking park full of unique rock formations located just outside of Denver. The Red Rocks Trading Post Loop is a beautiful gem of a hike that wraps around the amphitheater’s perimeter. This flat, easy loop takes you through and around some of the park’s most stunning red rock structures, from which the name of the park originates. Suitable for all levels of hikers, you can’t miss this wonderful spot for hiking near Denver.

Elk Meadow South Loop

  • Trail Length: 4 miles
  • Location: Elk Meadow Park

On the Elk Meadow South Loop trail, you’ll find forests, meadows, and wildflowers galore! This beautiful area is perfect for beginners and families to go hiking near Denver, as you’ll find flat trails and stunning views here. Locals love how well-maintained the trail is here, but recommend wearing sturdy hiking boots, as the trails can get quite muddy (especially after rain or in the springtime).

Photo Credit: Peter Ciro (Flickr CC)

Flatirons Vista

  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Location: Boulder, CO

Flatirons Vista may be the most gorgeous of the easy hikes near Denver, but only you can decide that for yourself! With views of rocky, rugged peaks and emerald evergreens, it’s a wonder that there’s an easy, accessible trail where hikers of all levels can soak it all in. The mountaintops here are iconic in the area, known for their jagged edges and unique shapes. We’d strongly recommend heading here in the early morning or late afternoon to get some stellar sunrise/sunset views and alpenglow on the mountains.

Photo Credit: Crystal (Flickr CC)

Waterton Canyon

  • Trail Length: 12.4 miles
  • Location: Chatfield State Park

For wildlife lovers of all hiking abilities, Waterton Canyon is a fantastic trail for viewing opportunities. Located in Chatfield State Park, many visitors report seeing wildlife ranging from bighorn sheep to foxes to eagles and more. The trail passes along the South Platte River and provides a peaceful and photogenic environment for an easy walk through nature. Note that you can hike the whole thing (12+ miles) or cut your trip short and turn back to the trailhead whenever you please.

Photo Credit: Pete (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Denver

Mayflower Gulch

  • Trail Length: 5.9 miles
  • Location: White River National Forest

There’s a reason why the Mayflower Gulch trail is one of the most beloved in the Denver area -it’s absolutely jaw-dropping. The nearly 6 miles of this trail brings hikers through a variety of trail terrain, past fields of wildflowers, vistas of the nearby mountains, near abandoned log houses, and through evergreen forests. If you’re looking for a trail that’s as close to heaven on Earth as possible, this one fits the bill, hands down.

Hell’s Hole Trail

  • Trail Length: 7.9 miles
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest

As one of the stunning hikes near Denver, Hell’s Hole Trail is somewhat of a misnomer, as nearly everything about this trail is heavenly, and there’s really no hole (that we can see). Along this trail, there are tons of unique, old trees with warped branches, adding a magical charm to the area. The trail leads hikers up a gradual incline, through some shady areas, to an almpine meadow surrounded by rocky cliffs and peaks. It’s a great half-day hike for adventurous souls!

Photo Credit: John B. Kalla (Flickr CC)

St. Mary’s Glacier

  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest

Although it’s often crowded, the local love for the St. Mary’s Glacier trail is warranted. This short but steep hike takes hikers up a tricky ascent to a small alpine lake that boasts beautiful mountain views in the distance. You’ll hike through the forest and above the treeline before arriving at the lake. The trail then extends further uphill if you’d like to catch a glimpse of the lake with the mountains in the background, as well as the glacier to the side. If you’re crunched for time or want the best views in the shortest distance, St. Mary’s Glacier takes the cake.

Devil’s Head Lookout

  • Trail Length: 2.5 miles
  • Location: Pike National Forest

With one of the most unique landscapes and views of all the hikes near Denver, the Devil’s Head Lookout trail is a short but mighty hike. The highlight of this hike is a lookout area that gazes upon beautiful, eerie rock formations interspersed between green pines and blue skies. While the trail is rated as moderate, it’s accessible to all hikers who are willing to take on a bit of an uphill challenge to reach outstanding views. We’d say the reward is well worth the effort!

Photo Credit: Cathy McCray (Flickr CC)

Castlewood Canyon Rim Rock Trail

  • Trail Length: 4.3 miles
  • Location: Castlewood Canyon Rim Rock Trail

If you’re looking for a break from the alpine meadow hikes we’ve listed, the more desert-type landscape of Castlewood Canyon’s Rim Rock Trail might strike your fancy. Here, evergreen trees meet golden, sandy terrain and abandoned stone ruins for an eerie, almost “Wild West” style setting. The incline here can be a little slippery after rain, but it’s achievable for hikers of all levels. Note that the trail is quite sun-exposed, so be sure to pack sun protective gear!

Sleepy Lion Trail from Button Rock Preserve

  • Trail Length: 5.4 miles
  • Location: Roosevelt National Forest

With views for miles and lovely forested pathways, the Sleepy Lion Trail is a fantastic hike through the pine woods of Roosevelt National Forest. While the trail does require some uphill hiking, it’s suitable for all levels of hikers who are willing to brave the ascent for the beautiful views at the top. The overlook of the reservoir is absolutely magnificent, and you can wander around to get a few different perspectives of the water down below.

Photo Credit: Vicky Devine (Flickr CC)

Herman Gulch to Herman Lake

  • Trail Length: 6.3 miles
  • Location: Arapahoe National Forest

As a trail that gives off alpine vibes with every step, head to the Herman Gulch trail, which is one of the most beloved hikes near Denver. This moderate hike runs through pine forests and above the treeline to alpine lakes and snowy mountaintops. Towards the top of the hike, you’ll find some of the most spectacular views of the Arapahoe National Forest area, including many surrounding mountains.

North Table Mountain & Rim Rock Loop

  • Trail Length: 8.3 miles
  • Location: North Table Mountain Park

There are two Table Mountains in the Denver area – South and North. On the north peak lies one of the most gorgeous places to go hiking near Denver: the North Table Mountain and Rim Rock Loop. Stunning views of the oddly-shaped rock formations that give the mountain its name will greet you at the top, and along the way, you’ll get a chance to see waterfalls and local wildlife, too. Locals really love this trail for a half-day hike, but recommend getting there early as it fills up quickly with people on nice days.

Photo Credit: Paul Iwancio (Flickr CC)

Mount Flora from Berthoud Pass Trailhead

  • Trail Length: 6 miles
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest

Mount Flora‘s 6-mile trail may be, hands down, one of the most jaw-dropping spots for hiking near Denver. Unlike some of the trails that require you to hike through the forest before seeing any views, the Mount Flora trail has breathtaking panoramas throughout. The trail offers sweeping views of the nearby mountains and forests, and in the spring, colorful wildflowers grow like crazy here.

Local hikers rave about this trail, citing its gorgeous views as a favorite aspect. However, be aware that the wind above the tree line can get quite strong – come prepared with layers and poles!

Photo Credit: Rick Kimpel (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Denver

Booth Falls Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.9 miles
  • Location: Eagles Nest Wilderness

The Booth Falls Trail is a short, challenging year-round hike for intrepid hikers who are looking for a shorter adventure. Wide views of the nearby mountains, a beautiful waterfall, and a serene alpine lake are all part of the package here. While locals enjoy the waterfalls and the lake, the real draw is the views, which extend out for miles and are especially eye-catching in the fall.

Barr Trail to Pikes Peak

  • Trail Length: 21.3 miles
  • Location: Pike National Forest

Among the hardest hikes near Denver, the Barr Trail to Pikes Peak is NOT for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of stamina, persistence, and skill to make the trek to the summit and back. But, if you’re a very experienced hiker and feel that you have what it takes, the rewards are well worth the effort you’ll need to put into conquering this trail. First of all, the summit is a 14-er (hello, massive bragging rights!). Second of all, the views and natural beauty of the trail are second to none.

While Pike’s Peak can technically be done in a day, we’d strongly recommend planning for a 2-3 day backpacking trip to get the most out of this exceptional trail. There are several campsites along the way that are great for pitching a tent and soaking up the wild, rugged beauty.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Reyes (Flickr CC)

Mount Audubon & Paiute Peak Trail

  • Trail Length: 10.5 miles
  • Location: Roosevelt National Forest

Ready to scramble? Then the Mount Audubon & Paiute Peak Trail is probably a great adventure for you! As a less-crowded challenging trail, this hike definitely has a rugged feel across its 10.5 miles. It also boasts absolutely epic views of the alpine lake below and the valleys nearby.

Complete with a ridge walk across a scree field from Mount Audubon to Paiute Peak, this trail is for EXPERIENCED HIKERS ONLY. It requires a lot of know-how to traverse between the two peaks, as well as the ascent, and the wind can be extremely dangerous at the top. However, if you summit Mount Audubon and find that the wind is too strong, you can turn back around and hike back the way you came (click here for the directions to summit Mount Audubon on its own).

Elk Falls Overlook

  • Trail Length: 11.6 miles
  • Location: Staunton State Park

Waterfalls, rock formations, pine forests, and alpine lakes…Elk Falls Overlook has it all, and experienced hikers will find a fun half- to full-day adventure here. The rock formations that line the trails here are totally unique and eye-catching, and the views as you ascend are absolutely heavenly. In the summer months, the waterfalls are usually flowing as the trails bloom with wildflowers. And while the hike is difficult, it’s not quite as technical as some of the summit hikes on our list. If you are looking a beautiful hiking challenge, this is it.

Photo Credit: schramroyal (Flickr CC)

Grays and Torreys

  • Trail Length: 7.9 miles
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest

For experienced hikers, the Grays and Torreys Trail is a local favorite for a challenging but attainable summit hike. On this hike, you’ll traverse two peaks: Grays Mountain and Torreys Mountain. Many people choose to tackle this trail as their first “14er,” and for good reason – it definitely requires experience, but isn’t quite as technical as some of the others. Plus, the views from the top are jaw-dropping, with spectacular, sweeping panoramas of the mountains for miles and miles.

Square Top Mountain from Guanella Pass

  • Trail Length: 6.9 miles
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest

As a shorter alternative to most of the other hard hikes on our list, Square Top Mountain is a local favorite for its magnificent views of several of Arapahoe National Forest’s 14ers. The panoramas here are out of this world, as the trail is fairly exposed and tree-less. Instead of trees, you’ll find wildflowers and views of the sparkling teal alpine lakes below. You can even see down to nearby Keystone on clear days! Note that it can get quite windy here, so bringing layers is recommended.

Photo Credit: qJake (Flickr CC)

Mount Sniktau from Loveland Pass

  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Location: Arapahoe National Forest, near Loveland Ski Resort

Sitting at a couple hundred feet under 14,000, the Sniktau Mountain Trail from Loveland Pass will take you just 3.5 miles up a very strenuous pathway. While you’ll be starting at about 12,00 feet altitude, this short hike takes you up almost 1,000 feet in the first mile alone… without switchbacks. Along the way, there are two false summits, but the views from them will already be worth the effort. The true Sniktau Mountain summit will offer you breathtaking panoramic views of several 14ers in the distance, as well as the valleys below.

Cupid Peak to Grizzly Peak from Loveland Pass

  • Trail Length: 6.7 miles
  • Location: Arapahoe National Forest, near Loveland ski resort

Grizzly and Cupid Peaks are neighbors to the nearby Sniktau Mountain, meaning you can bag all three peaks together in one day if you’re ambitious! This is undoubtedly one of the most scenic spots for hiking near Denver, with panoramic mountain views that are well worth the effort you’ll put into getting to the top.

You’ll start your trek at the Loveland Pass Summit, and you’ll take the same path you’d take to the summit of Sniktau. When you reach the saddle, you’ll turn right and continue to Grizzly Peak. You’ll eventually reach Cupid Peak a few miles afterward, your second (or maybe third?!) peak of the day. The views from the peaks are absolutely outstanding, with incredible visibility to nearby peaks on clear days.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Denver

What to Pack for Hiking Near Denver

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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