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While Breckenridge is arguably most famous for its snow sports and winter activities, there are tons of amazing hikes you can do in the area in the spring, summer, and fall. The gorgeous mountain views combined with miles of evergreen forests makes for a network of super picturesque hiking trails, perfect for all levels of experience. If you’re hoping to go hiking in Breckenridge, there are tons of options to choose from. We’ve created this guide with our favorite hikes in Breckenridge to help you plan your outdoor adventures in the area!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

Easy Hikes in Breckenridge

Hoosier Pass Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 688 feet

For beautiful mountain views on an easy to moderate trail, Hoosier Pass Loop is one of the best hikes in Breckenridge. Featuring a 2.8-mile gravel trail that spans a rocky summit above the tree line, this hike crosses the Continental Divide and is fantastic for all levels of hikers. We went at sunset (pictured above) and it was breathtaking to watch the last golden rays of sun illuminate the nearby peaks.

Note that there is a gradual incline through the first half of the trail, so good shoes are a must. However, once you hit the pass, stunning views and an easy descent await.

How to get there: Take Highway 9 from Breckenridge south, and the trailhead is located on the right hand side ~10 miles outside of town.

Burro Trail

  • Trail Length: 6.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 918 feet

Known as one of the area’s most popular trails, the Burro Trail is one of the must-do hikes in Breckenridge. With a leisurely 6.1-mile out-and-back trail that winds through forests, along creeks and waterfalls, and between rocky areas, it’s a laid back area that’s great for a walk with your dog or a group hike. While the trail itself does not have any major viewpoints, it connects to other trails near Peak 7 that do offer views of the town and surrounding mountains.

As this trail is one of the most accessible and popular areas for hiking in Breckenridge, it does get quite crowded on weekends and later in the day. We’d recommend heading out early in the morning and/or on weekdays for the most secluded experience.

How to get there: Park near the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center and walk to the trail head (~5 minute walk).

Sawmill Reservoir

  • Trail Length: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 236 feet

If you’re looking for a short, easy, and scenic hike, Sawmill Reservoir is a great option. The trail starts by running through the forest, then loops around the scenic Sawmill Reservoir, where you can see lots of fishing enthusiasts casting their lines around the glassy waterfront. While there are typically people wandering around the lake, it wasn’t too crowded when we hiked here in the late afternoon, just as the sun started to hang low over the horizon.

This trail is fairly flat, with a few easy inclines to reach the reservoir. We’d recommend bringing bug repellent, as it can get decently buggy in the forest and near the water.

How to get there: Take S Park Ave southbound (Highway 9) to Four O’Clock Road. Turn right onto Four O’Clock Road and the trail head will be on your left.

Gold Run Gulch Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 334 feet

Gold Run Gulch Loop is a wonderful, easy spot for hiking in Breckenridge that’s a little bit different than the others on our list. Instead of featuring sweeping mountain vistas and fields of wildflowers, Gold Run Gulch Loop is a stroll through the forest that takes hikers to a few historic sites and cabin ruins in the area. Along the way, you can see still-standing log structures from several decades ago.

How to get there: From Hwy 9 northbound, take a right onto Tiger Road. Then, take another right onto Highlands Road then a left onto Fairways Road. Finally, take a right onto Gold Run Road and the trailhead is located at the end of the street.

Boreas Pass

  • Trail Length: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 396 feet

For an easy, short hike that offers beautiful views of the town center and the ski slopes, Boreas Pass is one of the most accessible hikes in Breckenridge for all levels of experience. We especially recommend this hike for beginners and solo hikers, as there is a) cell service throughout most of the hike and b) about half of the trail is a shared dirt road with bikes and cars, meaning you’ll never be quite away from civilization. However, the views from the higher points of the hike are absolutely stunning.

We felt a little disappointed that this hike was largely located on a road, but nonetheless, there were a few gems we really enjoyed. First, the views are exceptional. Second, the trail is mostly shaded and very well maintained. Lastly, there are a few rocky outcroppings you can climb for extra views. Check out our full guide to the Boreas Pass hike here.

How to get there: The trailhead of this hike is located on Boreas Pass Road.

Lily Pad Lake

  • Trail Length: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 396 feet

Imagine the image that comes to view when you hear Lily Pad Lake, and this trail probably fits that description very closely. This short, easy trail brings hikers through the forest to a beautiful alpine lake that’s usually filled with lily pads and flowers during the warmer months of the year. There’s a somewhat steep incline at the very beginning of the trail that flattens out toward the lake, but it’s still very accessible for hikers of all levels.

The parking is extremely limited, so we’d recommend either getting there very early or late in the day, or planning to find alternative transportation arrangements.

How to get there: Take highway 6 toward Silverthorne, exit onto Stephens Way, then turn left on Wildernest Rd and left again onto Ryan Gulch Road. Follow Ryan Gulch Road all the way to the trail head.

Sally Barber Mine Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 393 feet

Another one of the most popular hikes in Breckenridge for history lovers is the Sally Barber Mine Trail. Similar to the Gold Run Gulch Loop, this hike features a few historic mine structures that you can view and explore. With a moderate elevation gain and an easy, wide trail, the Sally Barber Mine Trail is great for families and beginners, or hikers of any experience level who enjoy discovering historic areas on their adventures.

How to get there: Take Wellington Rd in Breckenridge east to Hwy 2/French Gulch Road. After ~3 miles, the Sally Barber Mine Trailhead will be on your right.

Blue Lakes Trail

  • Trail Length: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 108 feet

For a short, easy hike around a scenic alpine lake, the Blue Lakes Trail is a local favorite. At just one mile, this trail is perfect for those acclimatizing to the altitude or who want a quick, leisurely hike with great views. It’s also a great spot for dogs and families. At the lake, you can often spot white mountain goats meandering along the lakeside, and during the summer, you’ll see excellent views of the surrounding mountains with wildflowers and forests nearby.

Note that visitors say that the trailhead can sometimes be hard to access without a 4WD vehicle.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound, then take a left onto Blue Lakes Road. The trail head is at the end of Blue Lakes Road and is shared with Monte Cristo Gulch.

Photo Credit: Brendan Bombaci (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes in Breckenridge

Lower Mohawk Lake

  • Trail Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,486 feet

As one of the most scenic and popular trails for hiking in Breckenridge, Lower Mohawk Lake is a fantastic half-day adventure for all levels of hikers. While the trail is rated as moderate, the incline in steady and gradual throughout, making this a very accessible hike for beginners and more experienced folks. Along the way, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers and views of the snow-capped mountains nearby.

This trail actually passes by 3 main attractions – Mayflower, Continental Falls, and Lower Mohawk Lake. There’s a longer and more challenging version of this hike that’s more suited for experienced hikers, as well.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the end where the trailhead is located.

Mt. Baldy Trail

  • Trail Length: 10.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,123 feet

As one of the most beloved hiking trails in Breckenridge, Mt. Baldy offers stunning views of the nearby mountains and pine forests. Since it is a longer hiking option with a gradual incline, Mt. Baldy is a great option for those looking for a half- to full-day adventure. Most of the trail is above the tree line, offering panoramic vistas across the valley and the surrounding peaks.

Note that the end of the trail has been closed since July 2020 as it was claimed as private property. However, users report that it’s not well marked where the closed areas begin.

How to get there: Head to Mt. Baldy Road and continue past Gold Point Resort. You’ll find the trail head on your left.

Photo Credit: Jilly Anna Joy (Flickr CC)

Black Powder Pass Summit

  • Trail Length: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

For a shorter hike that will have you working up a sweat, the Black Powder Pass Summit trail is a fantastic moderate option for hikers of all levels. The trail is largely above the tree line, meaning you’ll see stunning, unobstructed views of the alpine meadows, blossoming wildflowers, and surrounding peaks. There are also several opportunities to view local wildlife, like the mountain goats that graze these high elevation meadows.

How to get there: Head to Boreas Pass Road, which will take you all the way to the trailhead. Note that this road is quite narrow and is made of gravel, so it can take around 40 minutes from the center of Breckenridge to arrive.

Lower Crystal Lake

  • Trail Length: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,601 feet

Hiking up to a scenic lake is possible in many parts of the Breckenridge area, and Lower Crystal Lake is a fantastic option for hikers looking for a good workout without going too long or far on the trails. The Lower Crystal Lake trail is fairly steep on the ascent, so we’d characterize this one as a moderate to difficult-level hike. At the top, you’ll see stunning mountain views along a quiet alpine lake, with tons of wildflowers coloring the landscape.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the trailhead at the end of the street.

Difficult Hikes in Breckenridge

Quandary Peak

  • Trail Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet

If you’re looking to bag a Colorado 14er peak, the closest one to Breckenridge is called Quandary Peak. This challenging summit hike will take you to a whopping 14,265 feet of altitude, with 3,100 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit. The hike begins with a moderate incline through a forested area, then poses a much steeper and rockier ascent once you’ve passed the tree line. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the views of the surrounding mountains from the summit are absolutely breathtaking.

While not for the faint of heart, this peak is accessible to experienced hikers who are willing to scramble a little bit and traverse over 2 miles of steep rocky scree paths each way. We’d strongly recommend starting the hike before 7 AM to get the best views from the summit with the least crowded trails. Also, sturdy trekking poles are super helpful for the descent, as the trail can get quite slippery when going downhill from the summit. Click here to read our full guide to the Quandary Peak hike.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound for ~8.5 miles, then turn right onto McCullough Gulch Rd. The trailhead is located on the left hand side of the street. If the trailhead parking lot is full, you may need to drive on nearby streets to find available street parking.

Crystal Lake

  • Trail Length: 8.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,568 feet

One of the most beautiful alpine lake hikes in Breckenridge is the trail to Crystal Lake. From the top, you can see views of Lower Crystal Lake and the surrounding meadows and mountains. Once you get above the tree line, the trail flattens out into a more gradual incline until the end. Note that this trail is very popular with hikers and off-road vehicles, so going early in the morning will minimize heavy crowds.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound and turn right onto Spruce Creek Road (where the Grand Moose Lodge is located). Follow Spruce Creek Road to the end where the trailhead is located.

McCullough Gulch Trail

  • Trail Length: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,578 feet

For a trail that has just about everything, from waterfalls to scenic meadows, McCullough Gulch is a gorgeous and popular spot for hiking in Breckenridge. This 6.2-mile trail packs a punch with several waterfalls, alpine lakes, peaceful forest areas, and stunning mountain views. Don’t forget to bring a camera! The trails are steep and difficult, but doable for most hikers who are open to a challenge and have some hiking experience under their belts.

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound for ~8.5 miles, then turn right onto McCullough Gulch Rd and follow it to the trail head.

Photo Credit: Thomas Elliott (Flickr CC)

Monte Cristo Gulch Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,138 feet

If you’re looking for a challenging hike that isn’t too long, Monte Cristo Gulch is one of the most scenic and difficult hikes in Breckenridge. Over less than 3 miles, you’ll gain well over 1,000 feet of elevation that ends at a scenic alpine lake filled with wildflowers and mountain goats. A good chunk of this trail involves rock scrambling, so come prepared with trusty trekking poles and a willingness to use your hands!

How to get there: Take Hwy 9 southbound, then take a left onto Blue Lakes Road. The trail head is at the end of Blue Lakes Road and is shared with the Blue Lakes Trail.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Breckenridge

What to Pack

  • 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.

Related Articles

If you are an avid hiker, there are few better places to spend time during the summer than Breckenridge, Colorado. There are tons of hikes in Breckenridge for all experience levels, and one of the most accessible viewpoint hikes is the Boreas Pass Trail. We hiked this trail during a sunny summer day and created this guide to help you plan your own adventure there!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

The Boreas Pass Trail: The Basics

The Boreas Pass Trail runs close to and coincides with the Boreas Pass Road, a mountain biking and vehicle thoroughfare with a gravel roadway. At just a 10-minute drive from downtown Breckenridge, this hike is a popular spot for walkers and mountain bikers, and is a great option for a mid-day hike since it’s mostly shaded.

Snapshot of the Boreas Pass Trail

The Boreas Pass trail is ideal for solo hikers, beginners, or hikers looking for an easy, leisurely stroll not far from civilization. We would not recommend this trail for young children or those looking for a challenging trail – this is an easy hike and has slight elevation gain, but is not accessible to strollers/wheelchairs and has several areas bordering non-guardrailed dropoffs.

  • Trail Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 396 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Things to Know Before Hiking the Boreas Pass Trail

Hiking the Boreas Pass trail is fairly straightforward, but here are a couple of things to know before you head out:

  • The trail is mostly shaded. This is great because this trail is suitable for mid-day hikes (whereas less shady trails would be more difficult to do in the heat of the afternoon sun).
  • There are no amenities on the trail, so be sure to bring everything you need. There are no bathrooms or water sources on the trail, so bring everything you need with you. Here’s our packing list if you want to know what we recommend bringing for day hikes.
  • Come prepared for possible run-ins with wildlife. There have been a handful of recent wildlife sightings on the trail, so be sure to keep your distance if you see anything!
  • You’ll be walking alongside cars, bikes, and possibly horses for over half of the trail. While this may be a deterrent for some people, we didn’t think it was that bad. The dirt road that coincides with the trail isn’t too heavily trafficked, so you’ll likely see cars every 5-10 minutes.

Our Boreas Pass Trail Review

We decided to do this hike about halfway through the morning, as we were looking for a short, easy hike to complete before lunchtime. For the hike, we brought all our usual day hiking gear plus Stella, a 15-pound chihuahua-dachshund mix. It was mid-70s and sunny when we took off on the trail.

The trail head is a pretty clearly marked dirt trail that originates on Boreas Pass Road. We chose to hike counter-clockwise, as the latter half of the hike along the road has the best views. To ensure we knew where we were going, we used the AllTrails map to guide us.

The first part of the hike consists of ~1 mile of a gradual uphill ascent through a pine forest, which was great since we were hiking on a cloudless day. No views in the forested part of the trail, but the trees and wooded gravel areas were quite scenic in themselves. After about 20 minutes of hiking, we arrived at a fork in the trail. A small sign pointed to the left side of the trail; when you get here, be sure to take the right hand path to make your way around the Boreas Pass loop.

About halfway through the hike, we arrived at a roadway with several cars and RVs parked along it. We were confused, but after a little research, we realized that the trail actually is the road for the remainder of the hike back to the car. While normally this would have been a little disappointing, the views of the town, the mountains, and the lake below from the road are very picturesque.

On the way back down, there’s a small rocky outcropping that’s divided by the dirt road. We chose to take a detour and scramble to the top of one of the rocky areas, which was quite possibly the most fun part of the hike. There was a small office chair at the top of the rock pile, which was odd and hilarious.

All in all, this admittedly wasn’t our favorite hike in Breckenridge. Personally, I don’t love hikes with viewpoints I can drive to, nor do I particularly enjoy hiking alongside cars, bikes, and motorcycles. However, it was a fun and easy adventure to see some lovely views of the town and the surrounding mountainsides with the ski slopes carved into it. If you’re looking for a short and easy hike to a nice photo spot, you can’t go wrong with Boreas Pass.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Colorado

What to Pack

  • 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.

Related Articles

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.)

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

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!

Difficult Hikes Near Denver

Mount Bierstadt

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

Colorado is often praised for the sheer number of 14ers, or 14,000+ foot mountain peaks, that are accessible by food. It’s somewhat of a hiker’s rite of passage to complete one or more of these towering peaks. Known locally as the “gateway 14er,” Mount Bierstadt is usually the first peak over 14,000 feet that hikers in Colorado tackle, and while it’s still a fairly challenging trail, it’s certainly the most accessible of the famed summits. This trail takes you up a strenuous but not too steep incline up the side of the mountain. At the very top, you’ll need to scramble to get the rest of the way to the summit.

Read More: How to Hike Mount Bierstadt, Colorado’s Gateway 14er

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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