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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!

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’re looking for the ultimate city for outdoor adventures, Vancouver is a top contender. This coastal city in British Columbia has a wonderful blend of the urban experience and the natural environment. Hiking in Vancouver is one of the best ways to get outside and see all of the rugged, wild nature that this region of Canada has to offer! From evergreen forests to crashing waterfalls, sweeping mountaintops to the calm seaside, Vancouver offers a diverse set of outdoor experiences for hikers of all levels. We created this guide to the best hikes near Vancouver to help you plan your next outdoor adventure!

Photo Credit: Colin Knowles (Flickr CC)

Easy Hikes in Vancouver

Stanley Park Seawall

  • Trail Length: 10 kilometers
  • Location: Stanley Park, Vancouver

Located off the coast of Vancouver, the Stanley Park Seawall trail is easily one of the most scenic spots for hiking in Vancouver proper. Stanley Park is a formerly indigenous area of Vancouver, which features large, rocky cliffs and evergreen forests. The Seawall Trail runs around the perimeter of the park (bordering the coastline) and is a popular spot for locals to go running, biking, and walking. For one of the most convenient and accessible hikes in Vancouver for all levels of hikers, the Stanley Park Seawall is a great place to start.

Lighthouse Park

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: West Vancouver

If you’re in the mood for a nautical hike, the trails at Lighthouse Park are a wonderful and easy way to explore this historic area. Unsurprisingly, this trail system boasts views of a historic lighthouse, as well as local plant and wildlife and views of the rocky shoreline of Vancouver. Locals especially love this park for hiking in Vancouver because it’s family-friendly and dog-friendly, meaning that you can bring the whole crew along to enjoy the lighthouse and the tranquil seaside vibes!

Photo Credit: GotoVan (Flickr CC)

Quarry Rock

  • Trail Length: 3.7 kilometers
  • Location: Cove Forest (northwest Vancouver)

Arguably the most popular of the easy hikes near Vancouver, Quarry Rock offers tremendously beautiful views to hikers of all levels. It’s definitely popular for a reason – you’ll get to see bird’s eye views over the water to the lush, forested areas surrounding Vancouver. We’d strongly recommend starting this hike early or going on a weekday, as it is one of the most crowded hikes in the area due to its easy trails and beautiful views.

Photo Credit: sharkhats (Flickr CC)

Lynn Canyon

  • Trail Length: 1.9 kilometers
  • Location: Northern Vancouver

A family-friendly trail near the north side of Vancouver, Lynn Canyon is one of the best hikes in Vancouver for beginners and less experienced hikers. It’s also great for people seeking beautiful, unique views, with a stunning 157′ suspension bridge that catches the eye of many artists and photographers in the Vancouver area. Along the way, you’ll find waterfalls, gorges, and thick evergreen forests. The trail is only 1.9 kilometers, perfect for a short, easy hike that’s not far at all from the center of Vancouver.

Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut (Flickr CC)

Killarney Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 7.9 kilometers
  • Location: Bowen Island

For an easy, scenic trail through the forest that boasts some particularly stunning views of Killarney Lake, the Killarney Lake Loop is a fantastic hike for all levels. This trail combines dirt trails with scenic boardwalks through the tropical forest and along the waterfront, perfect for misty days or those times when shade would be best. Don’t be fooled by the easy terrain on the trail – the views from the trail are absolutely incredible, with views across the lake to the surrounding mountains.

Dog Mountain

  • Trail Length: 4.5 kilometers
  • Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park

If it’s an alpine-type environment you’re looking for, Dog Mountain offers bird’s eye views and evergreen forests to hikers of all levels. It’s the perfect place to go hiking near Vancouver for families or those wanting an easy, short trail. Bridges and trails will lead you through shady, forested areas and to some really stunning views of the surrounding forests and mountains. On clear days, you can see out to the water and the islands nearby.

Photo Credit: Michael Dorausch (Flickr CC)

Norvan Falls

  • Trail Length: 16.7 kilometer
  • Location: North Vancouver

For a day-long adventure on an easy-to-hike trail, Norvan Falls is a fantastic hike for all levels of experience. You’ll meander through the forest and pass by gorgeous waterfalls, with beautiful mossy tree trunks scattered between waterways.. While it’s lengthier than the other easy hikes at 16.7 kilometers, the trail itself is flat, easy and scenic. If you’re looking for the best day hikes in Vancouver, Norvan Falls will definitely give you and your fellow hikers a long, fun, and accessible adventure.

Photo Credit: Giuseppe Milo (via Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Vancouver

Joffre Lakes

  • Trail Length: 7.7 kilometers
  • Location: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

While it’s 2.5 hours from the city, we couldn’t write a guide to hiking near Vancouver without listing one of the area’s most iconic hikes – Joffre Lakes. You’ve probably seen this hike all over landscape photographers’ Instagram accounts, as it has grown significantly in popularity over the last few years. With its turquoise waters, shady evergreens, and stunning snow-capped mountains, this moderately difficult hike packs a punch in terms of photogenic spots to go hiking in the Coast Mountains.

St. Marks Summit

  • Trail Length: 10.8 kilometers
  • Location: Cypress Provincial Park

Seaside cliff views meet foggy forests at St. Marks Summit, a moderately difficult trail located in Northwest Vancouver. Getting to the summit will take you through quintessential Pacific Northwest terrain, with tall evergreens and moss-covered trunks. Once you get to the top, you can hike out to the rocky outcroppings and see views of the islands off the bay, which is especially beautiful in the early morning or late afternoon. If you want to see the views, however, go hiking on a day that is clear – otherwise, you’ll be greeted with thick clouds and fog from the top.

Photo Credit: Brodie Guy (Flickr CC)

Elfin Lakes

  • Trail Length: 20.1 kilometers
  • Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Beloved by locals for short backpacking trips, the Elfin Lakes trip is one of the most visually stunning moderate hikes in Vancouver and the surrounding areas. At 20.1 kilometers, it’s very long, but local hikers typically split that over the course of 2-3 days. Unlike some of the summit hikes on our list, Elfin Lakes boasts sweeping views of the surrounding mountains almost all the way throughout. If you don’t want to camp in one of the many campsites, you can stay at the Elfin Lakes shelter, a bunk house for backpackers run by BC parks ($15/person per night).

Mount Cheam

  • Trail Length: 7.7 kilometers
  • Location: Bridal Veil Falls Park

Mount Cheam is one of the few moderately difficult summit hikes in Vancouver that will take you above the tree line, rewarding you with breathtaking views of some of the rocky, bare peaks in the region. While there is an uphill, it’s fairly gradual and accessible to less experienced hikers who are ready to work! This hike is best done on clear days, where you can see the exceptional views of the mountains nearby. Note that this trail is quite exposed, so be prepared for the potential of direct sun and strong wind. You’ll also need a 4×4 to access the trail head.

Mount Seymour

  • Trail Length: 8.2 kilometers
  • Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park

If you want to bag not one, not two, but three peaks in one hike, the Mount Seymour trail is the perfect (and not too difficult) way to do so. The views from these rocky peaks are second to none, with sweeping panoramas of the sea and the surrounding mountains on clear days. With a gradual incline leading hikers up 570 meters of elevation gain, it’s not too difficult but will definitely work your legs on the ascent. The rewards at the top are absolutely worth the effort!

Photo Credit: Sathish J (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Vancouver

Panorama Ridge

  • Trail Length: 28.3 miles
  • Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Not for the faint of heart, the Panorama Ridge hike is one of the longest and most challenging day hikes in Vancouver and the nearby areas, but is also one of the most iconic. At nearly 30 kilometers, this hike will take a full day (likely 11 hours or more) or require an overnight stay at one of the trail’s campsites. Given its length and 1,540 meter elevation gain, this trail takes experienced, adventurous hikers through all of the essential Vancouver landscapes – foggy, mossy forests, alpine lakes, and of course, rocky peaks. From the top, on clear days, you’ll be rewarded with one of the the absolute best views in the entire Vancouver region.

Garibaldi Lake

  • Trail Length: 21 kilometers
  • Location: Lexington, KY

If you’re looking for a slightly shorter hike than Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Lake is a fantastic alternative. This 21-kilometer difficult hike is one of the most popular spots for camping and hiking near Vancouver. This scenic trail will take you through the pine forests and pas waterfalls and scenic viewpoints, before the beautiful finale at the scenic and incredibly gorgeous Garibaldi Lake.

You can choose to hang out here and hike back down or spend a night at the neighboring campsite. At the lake, you’ll find turquoise blue waters and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains in the park. There’s a reason why Garibaldi Lake is such a popular trail – it is an absolutely incredible (and challenging) hike!

Photo Credit: Lisa (Flickr CC)

Black Tusk

  • Trail Length: 25.9 kilometers
  • Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Another popular trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Black Tusk is visible from many of the other peaks in the area (including Panorama Ridge). As a strenuous, challenging hike, this one definitely isn’t for beginners or those who haven’t experienced alpine hiking before. It’s also a popular spot for a 2-3 day backpacking trip, as there are several campsites along the way. Be sure to bring snow shoes or crampons as the trail usually gets snowy and icy in the winter and shoulder seasons. In the summertime, be prepared to scramble up loose rock the last 2 kilometers. Your hard work will be rewarded by a a 360 degree view of Garibaldi lake, Shark’s Fin, and Mt. Garibaldi.

Crown Mountain

  • Trail Length: 8.9 kilometers
  • Location: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

The trail up to Crown Mountain is a challenging trek that will test your determination and your ankles. What makes this hike especially difficult is the steep hike down to Crown Pass before another steep ascent to the true summit of Crown Mountain, meaning you effectively climb up the mountain twice each way. Be prepared for loos gravel and scrambling with the air of bolted chains. Your view at the top lets you see the gorgeous Capilano Watershed area, and, on an especially clear day, the city of Vancouver in the distance. Hikers can take the Grouse Mountain Skyride up part of the way. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, the Grouse Grind, BCMC Trail, and Hanes Valley trail can all be added on to the start of your summit trek.

Photo Credit: Jay Huang (Flickr CC)

Grouse Grind

  • Trail Length: 2.9 kilometers
  • Location: Grouse Mountain Park

The Grouse Grind is a popular hiking destination located within the borders of Vancouver. Sitting at just under 3 kilometers, this trail takes hikers up a stone and wooden staircase 780 meters to the top of Grouse Mountain. Set aside about 1.5 to 2 hours for this hike. It’s recommended to take the Grouse Mountain Gondola down (free trip downhill) to keep the trail safe from loose gravel pelting down on the ascending hikers. This trail can get crowded during the busy season. At the top of the mountain are cafes, restaurants, and bars, offering a delicious reward to the hikers that finish the grind.

The Lions

  • Trail Length: 12.4 kilometers
  • Location: Lions Bay

An iconic landmark overlooking the Howe Sound, the Lions are two twin peaks north of Vancouver. This 4 hour trail will take you to the ridge of the Lions. Here, you’ll catch stunning views of the Howe Sound and the North Shore mountains. Most of the hike is a steady incline up a gravel path. You’ll pass over a bridge which will be your last chance to refill your water before the top. The “heads” of the Lions are climbable, but they require extensive scrambling and straight-up bouldering. Do NOT attempt without a buddy or if you are afraid of heights.

Photo Credit: ActiveSteve (Flickr CC)

Golden Ears Trail

  • Trail Length: 21.7 kilometers
  • Location: Golden Ears Provincial Park

One of the most epic hikes near Vancouver, Golden Ears trail takes you up to the northern summit of the mountain. This trek is perfect for backpackers, as there are several campsites located within the park, as well as 6 tent platforms near the peak. Panoramic views of Pitt Lake wait at the end of the hike. We wouldn’t recommend this trail to any beginner hikers as the route is very technical. Additionally, the elevation gain means unpredictable climate. There’s an emergency shelter located near the top for hikers who get stranded by bad weather.

Photo Credit: Simon Morris (Flickr CC)

Stawamus Chief

  • Trail Length: 6.1 kilometers
  • Location: Stawamus Chief Park

A classic hike near Vancouver, the Stawamus Chief is a trail that takes hikers up one of the three peaks of this picturesque mountain. This trail is mostly wooden stairs and can get a bit crowded during the summer months. Ascending to the first peak requires climbing a metal ladder.More experienced hikers have the option to ascend all three peaks, adding about 5 kilometers to the trek. This option requires a lot of elevation change but will offer three unique perspectives and views of the Howe Sound and the town of Squamish below.

Photo Credit: JayCWSee (Flickr CC)

Wedgemount Lake

  • Trail Length: 10.3 kilometers
  • Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Wedgemount Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake located within Garibaldi Provincial park. This hike is known as one of the most challenging trails in the park, partly due to its steep elevation gain. The trail will initially take you through an old forest and some moderate switchbacks. Eventually, you’ll reach a viewpoint looking out at the 300 meter tall Wedgemount Waterfall. Once you cross the treeline, you’ll scramble up to the British Columbia Mountaineering Club hut. The end of the trail is a short distance further, offering spectacular views of glaciers and Wedgemount Lake, which is known for its radiant turquoise blue color.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Vancouver

What to Pack for Hiking in Vancouver

  • 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.

Related Links


Known for its massive Stampede and its proximity to the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a beautiful city that’s perfect for outdoor lovers. Hiking in Calgary is a fantastic (and cheap!) way to enjoy nature in and around the city. Within a few hours’ drive, you can have access to stunning mountaintops, flower-filled meadows, desert-like canyonlands, and evergreen forests. No matter what kind of trail you’re looking for, you can find a place to go hiking near Calgary that will take your breath away! We wrote this guide with 17 of the most beautiful hikes in and near Calgary for all levels – beginners to advanced enthusiasts – so you can plan your next adventure!

Easy Hikes Near Calgary

Bow River Pathway & Prince Island

  • Trail Distance: Up to 48 kilometers total (5 kilometer loop near Prince Island)
  • Location: Downtown Calgary

While there are several short urban hikes in Calgary, our favorite trail by far is the Bow River Pathway. Running for a total of 48 kilometers along the Bow River through the heart of the city, this is one of the most popular trails for running, biking, and hiking in Calgary. With mostly paved, flat trails, this trail is accessible for all levels of hikers.

As you stroll, you can see people fishing or kayaking in the Bow River, epic skyline views of the city, and you’ll even pass by Calgary’s famous bright red Peace Bridge. We’d highly recommend the Prince Island area of the Bow River Pathway if you want a nice blend of nature and city elements along your hike.

Photo Credit: necopunch (Flickr CC)

Grassi Lakes

  • Trail Distance: 4.3 kilometers
  • Location: Canmore, AB (Trailhead GPS: 51.08105, -115.39472)

Located in nearby Canmore, Grassi Lakes is one of the most popular easy hikes near Calgary and is a scenic, fun choice for hikers of all levels. While the trail does include an ascent, which is gradual and involves some stair climbing, the rewards at the top are excellent. You’ll see beautiful views of Ha Ling Peak, as well as the deep turquoise lakes below. If you’re looking for a wonderful, family-friendly spot for hiking (that isn’t too far off the beaten path), Grassi Lakes is a short and fantastic option.

Grotto Canyon

  • Trail Distance: 4 kilometers
  • Location: Grotto Mountain Provincial Recreation Area

As another one of the more well-known hikes near Calgary, the Grotto Canyon trail is a short, easy hike that takes you through huge rock structures and canyon areas. Here, local rock climbers can often be found scaling the vertical rock faces. After you’ve wandered past the rock climbers, you’ll hike through a boulder-filled trail and end at a waterfall, which makes for a really nice picnic spot or a scenic place to take a rest.

Photo Credit: Sabrina Setaro (Flickr CC)

Horseshoe Canyon

  • Trail Distance: 2.9 kilometers
  • Location: Kneehill County (Trailhead GPS: 51.41554, -112.88567)

At less than 1.5 hours from Calgary, Horseshoe Canyon may be one of the most unique spots for hiking near Calgary. With striated rock formations and plateaus, this strange landscape is located near the Canadian Badland. Instead of the common alpine landscapes of the nearby Canadian Rockies, you’ll find a much drier, desert-like landscape at Horseshoe Canyon. Pair a morning hike here with a trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park for a wonderful outdoor getaway near Calgary!

Troll Falls

  • Trail Distance: 3.4 kilometers
  • Location: Kananaskis County, AB (Trailhead GPS: 50.9364, -115.14133)

Known for being a fantastic family-friendly option, Troll Falls is located just over an hour from Calgary and is a great waterfall hike for all levels, including children. It’s just 3.4 kilometers, meaning you can pair it with other hikes in the Kananaskis area or simply take your time along the way. With dirt paths through the forest that lead hikers to a towering waterfall, it’s a nice, short, accessible option for hiking near Calgary. If you choose to hike in the winter, don’t forget to wear microspikes for safety!

Photo Credit: L F (Flickr CC)

Johnston Canyon

  • Trail Distance: 5 kilometers
  • Location: Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular hikes near Calgary, and it’s easy to see why. Waterfalls meet narrow stone gorges with a raging turquoise river in this beautiful and easy cliffside trail, which is perfect for solo hikers, couples and families of all hiking levels. This Banff hike is unique because it consists of a series of cliffside metal bridges that take you through this stunning canyon…no uphills necessary!

There are a few different options for this hike, including a short version that takes hikers right up to the Lower Falls (the first set of falls), or the longer version that extends all the way through the Upper Falls to the “Ink Pots,” a colorful phenomenon that occurs in these natural pools in Banff National Park. If you want to avoid the crowds (and yes, this trail does get crowded), be sure to get started hiking early in the morning.

Ha Ling Peak glows in the distance. Photo Credit: Darren Tennant (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Calgary

Ha Ling Peak

  • Trail Distance: 8 kilometers
  • Location: Canmore, AB

Open year-round, Ha Ling Peak is arguably one of the popular and most picturesque moderate hikes near Calgary. It’s on the shorter end of the hikes in Canmore, at 8 kilometers out and back. But don’t let Ha Ling Peak’s distance fool you – the hike is actually decently challenging, as you’ll ascend well over 800 meters one way in about 4 kilometers.

The peak itself rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of the Bow Valley below, as well as nearby East End of Rundle and Lady MacDonald peaks. As this trail is among the most popular day hikes near Calgary, we’d recommend starting very early to find parking and beat the crowds (plus catch the early morning alpenglow on the mountains!).

Photo Credit: Terry Lawson (Flickr CC)

Ptarmigan Cirque

  • Trail Distance: 4.3 kilometers
  • Location: Kananaskis County, AB

For gorgeous mountain views in a glacier-carved cirque, the Ptarmigan Cirque trail is a fantastic, moderate trail for hiking near Calgary. Beloved by locals, this trail is fairly short, but has a lot of variety to offer along its gradual slopes. You’ll pass by jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks, tiny waterfalls in the rocks, and lots of beautiful wooded areas. This trail is especially beautiful in the fall, when the larches turn orange and bright yellow amidst the blue backdrop of the mountains.

Photo Credit: nucksfan604 (Flickr CC)

Plain of Six Glaciers

  • Trail Distance: 15 kilometers
  • Location: Banff National Park (Park at Lake Louise)

As one of the most popular trails for hiking in Banff National Park, the longer, more difficult (and arguably more beautiful) sister of the Lake Agnes Tea House hike is the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. Rocky, winding dirt trails take hikers from the crowded shores of Lake Louise into secluded getaways deep in the Rocky Mountains. In our opinion, this is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in Banff National Park, and we’d recommend doing this one if you’ve got limited time in the park.

Visitors can expect to see beautiful, towering glaciers, craggy mountain peaks, and scenic passes through the wilderness. In the summer, hikers can stop for a quick rest at the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house, where they serve hot beverages and snacks for passers-by.

But before descending back down the way you came, be sure to stop by Abbots Pass for some of the most jaw-dropping views in the park.

How to get there: Park in the Lake Louise parking lot, pass the Chateau Lake Louise, and take the trail head that begins to the right of the lake at the edge of the forest. Once you are there, you will see signs to the Plain of Six Glaciers hike (it’s the same one as the Lake Agnes Trail).

Hoo Doo Trail

  • Trail Distance: 3.5 kilometers
  • Location: Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park

Try not to get too confused: there are several hikes in Alberta called the Hoo Doo Trail, but the one we’re talking about is in Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park. With 3.5 kilometers of pathways through the strange, eerie “hoodoo” rock formations of the park, you’ll see why this trail is one of the most notable hikes in Calgary and the surrounding areas. The drier terrain in this area of Alberta is a welcome change to the otherwise evergreen, alpine scenery farther north.

Photo Credit: mark goble (Flickr CC)

East End of Rundle (EEOR)

  • Trail Distance: 5.6 kilometers
  • Location: Canmore, AB

One of our personal favorite hikes near Calagary is East End of Rundle, lovingly called EEOR by locals. This moderate to difficult hike isn’t for the faint of heart – while it’s not too technical, you’ll certainly need to use your hands and do some scrambling to reach the summit, especially once you’ve cleared the tree line. However, along the way, you’ll see beautiful views of the Bow Valley, nearby Ha Ling Peak, and the surrounding mountains.

Note that there are a few false trails that stray away from the main area – be sure to take note of your surroundings and make sure you follow the same pathway down from the top of the mountain as you did when you ascended.

Resting on a rock after completing the chain course on the Mount Yamnuska Trail

Difficult Hikes Near Calgary

Mount Yamnuska

  • Trail Distance: 11 kilometers
  • Location: Bow Valley Provincial Park

By far, Mount Yamnuska is one of our favorite adrenaline-pumping, muscle-throbbing hikes in Calgary and the surrounding areas. Known as the “gateway to the Canadian Rockies,” this 11-kilometer trail takes you through an evergreen forest, up a steep rocky scramble, around a chain cliffhanger (seriously), and up to the summit of this iconic Canmore peak. It’s a whopping 900+ meters of elevation gain, so be ready for some SERIOUS uphills and downhills if you choose to tackle this one.

Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass

  • Trail Distance: 17.5 kilometers
  • Location: Banff National Park

One of the most incredible day hikes near Calgary, Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass is a challenging but memorable hike to tackle. Located in Banff National Park, his full-day hike brings you to some of the best landscapes in the park, including many peaceful, secluded lakes, and panoramic views of the park.

Although this is the longest challenging hike on our list, it’s well worth the effort for a full day of adventuring through alpine trails and forests.

Throughout the hike, you might see some wildlife, including little chubby marmots (that we thought were adorable!). You’ll pass through Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Lake, both perfect places for a snack or a break. You also have the option of summiting Mount Bourgeau, although it is definitely a difficult scramble!

Photo Credit: Andres Alvarado (Flickr CC)

Mount Lady MacDonald

  • Trail Distance: 9.9 kilometers
  • Location: Canmore, AB

The Mount Lady MacDonald hike, named after the wife of the first Prime Minister of Canada, is a challenging trail that has breathtaking views start to finish. We definitely would not recommend this hike for beginners, but experienced hikers will absolutely have a blast. You’ll walk through evergreen forests, past a heli-pad, and all the way up to the rocky, scree-filled summit. Be prepared for some wind! We’d strongly recommend trekking poles for this one, as there are a lot of difficult ascents where they could come in handy.

Smutwood Peak

  • Trail Distance: 17.9 kilometers
  • Location: Kananaskis County

Easily one of the most beautiful summit views near Calgary, Smutwood Peak’s trail isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll hike, you’ll scramble, and you’ll gawk and the stunning, stunning views of the ridge and the alpine lakes and valleys below. Definitely not for the faint of heart, this long but vastly beautiful trail is best for experienced hikers who have already summited other peaks in the area. This hike is best to do in the summer or fall, when the snow has mostly melted.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Calgary

What to Pack for Hikes in Calgary

  • 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.

Related Links

San Antonio is known most famously for its bustling Riverwalk, the historic Alamo, and the surrounding missions that play an important part in Texas history. However, there are a surprising number of beautiful nature and outdoor spaces that you can explore by hiking in San Antonio. The Texas Hill Country is a wonderful playground for people who love the outdoors, especially if you enjoy the variety of desert-type landscapes, forests, and slowing waterways side by side. We created this guide to the best hikes in and near San Antonio to help you plan your next outdoor adventure!

Easy Hikes in San Antonio

The San Antonio Riverwalk

  • Trail Distance: 15 miles
  • Location: Downtown San Antonio

Among San Antonio’s most famous landmarks is the San Antonio Riverwalk, which extends 15 miles down the San Antonio River. Some of the Riverwalk is quite commercialized, with lots of shops, street performers, and boats. However, most people don’t know if you escape the main stretches of the Riverwalk, you can find some really beautiful parts of the city.

One of our favorite sections of the Riverwalk is called Mission Reach, which extends through some of the historic Catholic missions in the area that date back over 250 years. Alternatively, for families or people who enjoy learning, the Museum Reach features a scenic trail near many of the city’s museums, including the San Antonio Zoo, the Art Museum, and the Witte Museum.

Photo Credit: mlhradio (Flickr CC)

Cibolo Nature Center

  • Trail Distance: Up to 3 miles
  • Location: Boerne, TX

When you arrive there, you may not think that Cibolo Nature Center fits in with the rest of the Hill Country scenery. That’s because the park features several ecosystems that all look completely different: prairie, forests, marsh areas, and savanna. You can literally explore all four of these sections in one day, along the various trails that span over 3 miles in length. For easy and education hiking near San Antonio, Cibolo Nature Center is a great choice.

Rio Medina Trail

  • Trail Distance: Up to 12.6 miles out and back
  • Location: Medina River Natural Area

South of San Antonio, you can find the Rio Medina Trail, a beautiful running, biking, and hiking trail that runs alongside a river of the same name. Lots of people come here to get away from the hectic areas of downtown and the Riverwalk, for a bit more peace and quiet. With lots of trees and shade, many local outdoor enthusiasts enjoy coming to this trail for a scenic stroll or a bike ride. There are even a few historic sites scattered around the trail that you can view, including a skeleton of an abandoned barn. Scenic, spooky, and shady, this is a great place for hiking in San Antonio for any level of hiker.

Photo Credit: Marcus Calderon (Flickr CC)

McKinney Falls State Park

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Location: McKinney Falls State Park

If you’re looking for a spot to go hiking in San Antonio and the surrounding areas that takes you away from the city and into a more serene environment, McKinney Falls State Park is a fabulous option. Beloved by locals for its scenic waterways and tree-lined pathways, the Homestead Trail is a fantastic starting point that’s accessible to all levels. This 3.1 mile trail takes you past waterfalls, swimming areas, and rocky outcroppings that are very picturesque. Note that there’s a $6 state park fee to enter the park area.

Photo Credit: Kelly Bollinger (Flickr CC)

Moderate & Difficult Hikes in San Antonio

Barton Creek Greenbelt

  • Distance: 13.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Location: Zilker Park area

As one of the most popular places for hiking in San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country, Barton Creek Greenbelt is a local favorite for a stroll through a naturally beautiful part of the city. Here, you can find lovely waterfront views, waterfalls, and colorful wildflowers during the warmer months of the year.

The trails are mostly shaded, so it’s a perfect year-round hike that will make you feel like you’re in the countryside (even though it’s just minutes away from downtown). It’s also dog-friendly so your favorite pooch can explore too! Unfortunately, sometimes the creek dries up, but the trail is still quite beautiful nonetheless.

Pro tip: On warm days, bring a swimsuit and end your hike with a dip in Barton Springs Pool.

Tower Loop

  • Trail Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Location: Comanche Lookout Park (Northeast San Antonio)

As one of the more popular hikes in San Antonio, the Tower Loop is a fun, short hike that is accessible to all levels of hikers willing to do some hiking across different kinds of terrain and rolling hills. The trail culminates in an abandoned historic tower, which was built in 1948 when the builder passed away. Today, what’s left is the stone structure and the scenic land surrounding it – perfect for photo opportunities or to admire this spooky tower.

Photo Credit: sbmeaper1 (Flickr CC)

Enchanted Rock Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.4 miles
  • Location: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Enchanted Rock is a huge, rounded rock formation that springs up seemingly out of nowhere amidst flatter plains outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. Known for being locals’ favorite recreational areas, Enchanted Rock Loop Trail is an unforgettable spot for hiking near San Antonio.

This 5.4-mile trail takes you to the top of the rock and around the park area, where there are lots of offshoots to see spectacular views of the surrounding countryside or scramble up some of the giant boulders in the area. Note that there is a fee to enter the park, and if you’d like to go during peak season or on weekends, reservations are required.

Bandera Creek Trail

  • Trail Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Location: Hill Country State Natural Area

While it’s a bit of a mouthful, the Wilderness, Ice Cream, Spring Hill, Bandera Creek Trail (we’ll call it the Bandera Creek Trail for short) is a beautiful, 6.4-mile stretch through the Texas Hill Country. This long, moderately difficult trail boasts very scenic views of the area’s rolling hills, with plenty of uphill and downhill stretches to challenge you. Locals love that much of the trail is shady, plus the epic views you can see from the tops of the hills.

Photo Credit: satanoid (Flickr CC)

Pedernales Falls State Park

  • Trail Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Location: Johnston City

For another waterfall-esque hike that boasts beautiful views, the Pedernales Falls Loop trail is definitely worth the day trip. Situated in a hilly, rocky area, the teal blue waters and colorful wildflowers of the Pedernales Falls area are highlights of this trail. You can also take another short (0.6 mile) hike to the falls themselves, where you can climb around the rocks and explore. As this is one of the longer hikes in San Antonio, it’s a great spot for a half-day adventure with family, friends, or your dog.

Crystal Cave Trail & Bridges Trail

  • Trail Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Location: Garner State Park

Although it’s a short hike, Crystal Cave Trail is one of the best hikes in San Antonio take you through classic Hill Country and allow you to explore a small cave. This hike is moderately challenging, despite its short length. The cave is located on a rocky hill, and is a small little nook that you can head into.

The real highlight of the trail lies at the top of Painted Rock Overlook, where you can catch the most beautiful hill country sunsets near San Antonio. Be prepared for a steep climb and bring good shoes with lots of traction. The path down Bridges Trail is gentler and should make for an easier descent than your uphill trek. You can see lots of wildlife and flowers in the springtime and summer.

Photo Credit: Patti (Flickr CC)

Prairie, Painted Bunting, Barred Owl, and Live Oak Trails

  • Trail Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Location: Guadalupe River State Park

Guadalupe River State Park is located just 45 minutes driving north of San Antonio. It offers a peaceful retreat into the colorful Texas hill country. During autumn, the leaves light up many brilliant different shades of colors. The Prairie, Painted Bunting, Barred Owl, and Live Oak trails are aptly named as they take you through a diverse ecosystem of open fields and oak forests. It’s common to see giant lizards, armadillos, and snakes on this trail. Although it’s a little bit longer, this trail is mostly flat but can be difficult if done in the middle of the summer.

Inks Lake State Park

  • Trail Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Location: Burnet, TX

Inks Lake State Park is a serene state park area with a glassy lake surrounded by large boulders and rock formations. The 4.4-mile loop trail around the park is a great place for hiking near San Antonio if you want to escape the crowds of Enchanted Rock or other popular hikes on this list. With trails spanning from wide, smooth terrain to narrow, rocky passages, this trail offers an accessible challenge to hikers of all levels. While the trail is quite pretty, it’s fairly exposed, so be sure to bring sun protective gear – a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen – if you plan on tackling this scenic trail.

Photo Credit: Randall Chancellor (Flickr CC)

Pace Bend Park Trail

  • Trail Distance: 11.6 miles
  • Location: Pace Bend Park

If you are looking for a longer hike, head over to Pace Bend Park. This 11 mile hiking trail is a favorite for hiking in San Antonio and Austin, and will take you through wooded, gravel paths inside a sharp bend of the Colorado River. Bring a swimsuit! Hikers can take the trek through the main trail of the park and afterwards dive into the Colorado River from the rocky cliffs. The trail itself is mostly shaded and won’t afford you many views of the river, but you can take a short detour and camp on the cliffs overlooking the river.

Tinaja and Dogleg Canyon Loop

  • Trail Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Location: Colorado Bend State Park

Although it’s further away from San Antonio, Colorado Bend State Park is a gorgeous 5,000 acre park located in prime Texas hill country. Tinaja and Dogleg Canyon Loop is a challenging trail that’ll take you up and down rocky hills overlooking the Colorado River. You’ll hike down near the river and get breathtaking views of the water. Along the path you’ll also see the entrance to Gorman Cave, but it’s unfortunately closed to the public. Armadillos are frequent visitors on the trail so get your phones and cameras ready. This is a great hike near San Antonio that offers lots of solitude.

Lost Maples State Natural Area

  • Trail Distance: 4.4 to 7 miles
  • Location: Lost Maples State Natural Area

Texans often complain about the lack of fall colors in the state, but Lost Maples State Natural Area is a notable exception. This beautiful area, filled with towering maple trees, blazes red and orange in the fall, and is filled with spectacular rock formations. It’s also home to two incredibly stunning trails – the East Loop and the West Loop. Both loop trails are rated as moderate, and bring hikers past large canyons, still lakes, and more. This magical state park area is a hidden gem, and while it’s 2 hours from San Antonio, it’s definitely worth the drive for an autumn day trip or weekend getaway.

Additional Resources for Hiking in San Antonio

What to Pack for Hiking in San Antonio

  • 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.

Related Links

Charlotte, NC may not be known for being the most outdoorsy city in the US, but there are a surprising number of fantastic parks and trails nearby. With the Appalachian Mountains nearby and several forests, rocky peaks, and lakes to explore, Charlotte is a totally underrated city for outdoor activities. Hiking near Charlotte is a fantastic, affordable, and accessible way to explore all of the beautiful nature that the area has to offer. We created this guide to the best hikes near Charlotte to help you plan your next outdoor adventure!

Photo Credit: ITRE Institute for Transportation (Flickr CC)

Easy Hikes Near Charlotte, NC

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

  • Trail Length: 5.6+ miles
  • Location: South Charlotte (trailhead near Tyvola Road)

With paved, flat trails that run through some lovely green spaces, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a fantastic spot for hikers of all levels to take a nice, leisurely walk in the city. This multi-purpose trail running, biking, and hiking in Charlotte, NC is a local favorite, and is perfect for families or dog owners wanting a no-frills, easy walking path. Because it is an urban trail, don’t expect to feel like you’re out in the wilderness, but you will get to see some nice views of the creek and the surrounding forest along the trail.

Latta Nature Preserve Trail

  • Trail Length: 5.4 miles
  • Location: West of Huntersville, NC (~30 minutes north of Charlotte)

Located right next to the historic Latta Plantation, the Latta Nature Preserve Trail provides Charlotte hikers of all levels with a bit more immersion in nature than a typical city trail. It’s a great spot for hiking near Charlotte if you don’t want to travel too far but still want a nice, accessible trail through the forest. With its proximity to Mountain Island Lake, Latta Nature Preserve offers serene lake views along gravel paths that roll with gentle inclines and descents. Locals really enjoy this trail, but warn that it can get muddy after periods of rain. Check this website before you go for the latest trail status.

Photo Credit: Douglas Johnson (Flickr CC)

US National Whitewater Center

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: Near Catawba Heights (western Charlotte)

While the US National Whitewater Center is best known for organizing whitewater rafting lessons, excursions, and competitions, there are a handful of lovely, easy hiking trails in the area as well. The trails here have a lot of variety, ranging from the powerful man-made river rapids to some more peaceful lakes and forests a bit farther out. The trails here are well-maintained and are largely accessible to families and beginners (though we’d recommend avoiding a visit right after heavy rains, as the trails can get very muddy).

Reedy Creek Park and Nature Center

  • Trail Length: 3.1 miles
  • Location: Northeast Charlotte off of Grier Road

For a fantastic family-friendly hiking option, the Reedy Creek Park and Nature Center Trail is one of the best spots for hiking near Charlotte. This paved path is easy to navigate and brings hikers to some very beautiful scenery, including small creeks, a peaceful lake, and some old stone ruins. Because it’s located in a city park, there are also lots of recreational facilities, including picnic areas, sports fields, and more. Locals note that this is a really interesting trail, especially because of the rock house ruins you can explore, but that it can sometimes be hard to follow. You can download a map here to stay on track.

Photo Credit: Chris Steude (Flickr CC)

Greenway Bridges and Lake Loop

  • Trail Length: 4.2 miles
  • Location: Anne Springs Close Greenway

As one of the most spectacular easy hikes near Charlotte, the Greenway Bridges and Lake Loop is a beautiful blend of history and nature. Located in the Anne Springs Close Greenway, the trail is mostly flat and accessible to hikers of all levels. Along the 4.2 mile trail, you’ll pass under a large, historic bridge, cross narrow suspension bridges, and enjoy the thick forests and nature areas located in the park. If you’re a beginner and are only going to tackle one easy hike in Charlotte, we’d strongly recommend this one for the most variety and picturesque views.

Photo Credit: Thomas Cizauskas (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Charlotte

Stone Mountain

  • Trail Length: 4.5 miles
  • Location: Stone Mountain State Park

Looking for a bit more of a challenge and a mountain to summit? As one of the coolest and most unique hikes near Charlotte, Stone Mountain is a wonderful hiking challenge for all levels with some stunning rewards. The trails wind through the forest, across bridges and up stairs, with a finale at the rocky summit of Stone Mountain. With smooth rock faces that are striped with different shades of gray, the summit boasts breathtaking views of the cerulean Blue Ridge Mountains nearby. While it’s definitely not an easy trail, we’d still recommend this one for hikers of all levels!

Cove, Cedar Ridge, Creekside and Chestnut Trail

  • Trail Length: 4 miles
  • Location: McDowell Nature Center (~30 minutes southwest of Charlotte)

If you’re looking for a bit more peace and solitude than some of the more popular trails on our list, head to the McDowell Nature Center for a hike along the Cove, Cedar Ridge, Creekside, and Chestnut Trail. This moderate trail is mostly wooded, but also features a lake, a few bridges and boardwalks, and some eerie ancient tree stumps that have stories of their own. While this trail doesn’t have many sweeping views or rocky outcroppings, it’s common here to have the entire trail to yourself, making it a perfect escape from the city. For hiking near Charlotte without any stress, this trail is a great option.

Photo Credit: M Fletcher (Flickr CC)

Lake Shore Trail

  • Trail Length: 5.7 miles
  • Location: Lake Norman State Park (~45 minutes north of Charlotte)

Water lovers will enjoy the 5.7-mile Lake Shore Trail in Lake Norman State Park, which spans the perimeter of a small peninsula. The jagged edges of the land near the water create a lot of variety along the lakefront, which offers stunning views of the forest reflecting into the still waters (especially in the fall!). While the trail can get popular in peak season, there’s a lot of space and small secluded areas to get your peace and quiet and enjoy the company of the lake and the surrounding trees.

Uwharrie Trail

  • Trail Length: 8.4 miles
  • Location: Uwharrie National Forest

The Uwharrie Trail is a 20-mile trail that stretches through the Uwharrie National Forest. While you have the option to hike the whole thing, you can also do just a section or two. If you do want to break down this long-distance trail into something more manageable, we’d recommend the section from Jumping Off Rock to Little Long Mountain, which is a moderately difficult trail that has plenty of campsites for backcountry trips. The trail is largely forested, and ends at the summit of Little Long Mountain, which has stunning views of the nearby mountain. You can even camp close to the summit to catch it at sunrise and watch the entire landscape glow in the morning light.

Photo Credit: Stuart Borrett (Flickr CC)

Fall Mountain Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.8 miles
  • Location: Morrow Mountain State Park

If you’re looking for a wonderful fall hiking trail with lots of photo opportunities, the Fall Mountain Trail at Morrow Mountain State Park is a great option. While there are lots of trails in the Morrow Mountain area, we like Fall Mountain the best for its variety, between mountain views, quiet forest paths, and picturesque sections. Locals love this trail for being extra quiet and peaceful, which is a great choice for weekends to let go of some of the stress of your daily city life.

King’s Pinnacle Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.7 miles
  • Location: Crowders Mountain State Park

No list of hikes near Charlotte would be complete without an ode to King’s Pinnacle Trail, one of the most popular and scenic trails in the entire state. Boasting some of the best views of Crowder’s Mountain State Park, the summit of King’s Pinnacle consists of a rocky outcropping that’s beautiful in its own rite. The trail itself consists of a gradual incline to the top, so it’s great for hikers of all levels who are willing to take on the challenge! Those who do will be rewarded with one of the most iconic hiking views in the area.

NOTE: This is one of the most popular trails on our list, so go early if you want to avoid crowds along the way!

Photo Credit: Jim Liestman (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Charlotte

Linville Gorge Wilderness

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: Linville Gorge Wilderness

Located near Asheville, the Linville Gorge Wilderness area is a gorgeous place for hiking near Charlotte. There are several trails that weave throughout the region, but the two we’d recommend are Little Table Rock Trail (hard – 2.7 miles) and Hawksbill Mountain (moderate – 1.8 miles). We’d recommend both for experienced hikers, but if you’re looking for an extra challenge and workout, head to Little Table Rock Trail for some seriously steep inclines and rocky terrain. Because both hikes are so short, you could even do both in one day!

Ridgeline Trail

  • Trail Length: 14.7 miles
  • Location: Crowders Mountain and Kings Mountain State Parks

Have you ever wanted to do a hike that extended across two different states? The Ridgeline Trail is your chance! Spanning from Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina to Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina, the Ridgeline Trail is one of the most beloved hikes near Charlotte for experienced hikers. The trails take you through forested areas and to some very spectacular views of Crowders Mountain and Kings Mountain. Locals state that this is hands down, one of the best challenging hikes in the state, and is definitely worth the challenge if you’re in the mood to work hard.

Photo Credit: matthew mclalin (Flickr CC)

Chestnut Knob Trail

  • Trail Length: 4.1 miles
  • Location: South Mountains State Park

If it’s views of the tree-covered Blue Ridge Mountains you’re looking for, the Chestnut Knob Trail in South Mountains State Park is a great strenuous hike to tackle. Many of the viewpoints here offer uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains and forests, which is rare given how many trees there are in North Carolina! You can also catch views along the way of High Shoals Falls, the park’s most well-known waterfall. This trail truly has a little bit of everything, and is a wonderful option for experienced hikers wanting a challenge with many rewards.

Vertical Mile Challenge to Hollow Rock Loop

  • Trail Length: 3.6 miles
  • Location: Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area

Located just one hour from Charlotte, the Vertical Mile Challenge hike in Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area is a solid, strenuous hike to get your blood flowing. While you can hike Hollow Rock Loop on its own, for experienced hikers, we recommend combining both hikes for an extra scenic and challenging adventure. For beautiful views and a hike that you can write home about, the Vertical Mile Challenge & Hollow Rock Loop trail is one of the best hikes near Charlotte.

Chimney Rock State Park

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: Chimney Rock State Park (Lake Lure, NC)

Chimney Rock State Park is one of the most well-known and iconic state parks in the area, and hiking here is nothing short of breathtaking. While there are many different trails and paths you can hike, we’d recommend Party Rock and Exclamation Point for their spectacular views (great names, right?!).

Exclamation Point is a short, moderate hike (less than 1 mile) to a viewpoint where you can see fantastic views of Chimney Rock and the nearby valley. For hikers who want a more strenuous challenge, head to Party Rock (2.3 miles) for absolutely spectacular views of the valley and nearby lakes. Because they’re both short, you can tackle both in one day for an awesome half-day adventure.

Mount Mitchell

  • Trail Length: 11.3 miles
  • Location: Pisgah National Forest

Although it’s over 2.5 hours from Charlotte, we couldn’t resist including the Mount Mitchell trail on our list, which brings hikers up to the highest peak in the state of North Carolina. This trail is NOT for the faint of heart – it’s an 11.3 mile slog up steep, rocky terrain to reach the iconic summit. You’ll ascend a whopping 3,700 feet over just under 6 miles, which will really make you feel your legs! On the plus side, the incline is gradual, which means you won’t experience too much variation in steepness. At the top, you’ll be treated to the most jaw-dropping views in the state, and on clear days, you can see out many, many miles across the mountaintops. For the ultimate North Carolina bragging rights, hit up Mount Mitchell trail and be prepared for an adventure.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near Charlotte, NC

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.

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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