25 Best Colorado Hikes

Colorado is a hikers' paradise. Whether you are trying to bag the highest peaks in North America, enjoy solitude in the lush lodgepole pine and aspen forests, or take in open vistas of wildflower-covered meadows and waterfalls tumbling down steep cliffs, Colorado has a hike for you. There are day hikes you can do over the weekend, hikes you can take kids on, and hikes that will challenge even the fittest hikers. Wherever you go, the views will leave you breathless and in awe of the majesty of nature. Photo: Tomasz Zajda/Fotolia


»Panorama Point

Panorama Point


Located just outside downtown Denver, Corwina Park is the closest spot for Denver residents to enjoy the Rocky Mountain wilderness without having to travel far. Hiking up the Panorama Point Trail will take you to Panorama Point and the spectacular views of the Continental Divide and Mount Evans. The scenic 3.3-mile round trip trail runs along cool Bear Creek through the shade of old trees and, depending on season, is surrounded by wildflowers. It is moderately steep with a short steeper climb, with an elevation gain of 763 feet. The trail is pleasant for the whole family, dog included. 25 Best Colorado Hikes - Photo: winterbilder/Fotolia

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»Chief Mountain

Chief Mountain


Chief Mountain is located not far from the town of Evergreen, Colorado, off Squaw Pass Road. As you drive farther up the road, you will come to Echo Lake Mountain Park, known as the gateway to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, America’s highest paved road. Chief Mountain is 11,710 feet tall, with a summit just below the tree line. The 3.5-mile round trip hike up the mountain is fairly easy, with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. You will start to climb as soon as you reach the trail, going up steadily with a few small switchbacks along the way. The higher you go, the more rocky the path gets, with a few boulders you will have to scramble over. You will be surrounded by tall, old trees that make the hike pleasant, and the views of the surrounding much higher mountains will make you feel like you are really on top of the world. 25 Best Colorado Hikes - Photo: Flat Nine Photo/Fotolia

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»Green Mountain

Green Mountain


Green Mountain is a 2,000-feet high mesa on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range. You can find the trailhead near the town of Morrison just off Trail Ridge Road. The 4-mile round trip trail starts climbing right away through a beautiful forest of lodgepole pines, which obstruct the view but provide pleasant shade. The elevation gain is only 635 feet, but you will gain most of it during the first mile of hiking, so take breaks and enjoy the wildflowers along the path. As you come out of the lush, dense forest, the view of the large meadow surrounded by high snow-topped mountain peaks all around will open in front of you, taking your breath away. 25 Best Colorado Hikes - Photo: lobodaphoto/Fotolia

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»Marker Hill

Marker Hill


Marker Hill is a 2,755-meter-high mountain about 77 miles from Denver in the Arapaho National Forest and Indian Peaks Wilderness. The trailhead is located in the Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa. The trail is well maintained, although it is used by horseback riders, making it more eroded in parts and crowded in some spots. The views of Devil’s Thumb are fantastic as you get off the Creekside Trail and head north. Once you reach the Marker Hill Trail, you will go west through lovely meadows full of flowers. The trail starts a slow, steady climb at around 1.3 miles until you reach the Marker Hill Vista Point. The views in every direction are spectacular. 25 Best Colorado Hikes - Photo: Tadeusz Ibrom/Fotolia

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»Lost Lake Trail

Lost Lake Trail


Lost Lake is not far from the town of Nederland, just outside the Indian Peak Wilderness Area. The trailhead is located at about 9,000 feet and from there you will gain 903 feet in elevation, so expect to climb. The trail heads west through the beautiful aspen forest, making it pleasant and cool in spite of the steady climb. Once you come out of the trees, you will catch a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. As you keep climbing, you will hear Middle Boulder Creek as it rushes to the left of the trail. The trail heads back into the forest, and will stay shady all the way to the lake. There are eight campsites around the lake, which is full of fish. 25 Best Colorado Hikes - Photo: Dan Collier/Fotolia

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25 Best Colorado Hikes



Mayhem Gulch Trail

Located just an hour’s drive from Denver, in Centennial Cone Park, the Mayhem Gulch Trail is a popular day hike in the Front Range. It is a 4.7-mile loop trail that offers fantastic views of Clear Creek Canyon. The elevation gain is 900 feet, but it offers solitude, and the view of the waterfall on the northeast side of the park makes the effort worthwhile. As you leave the canyon, the trail heads to a large meadow, where you can spot herds of mule deer and elk.

Horsetooth Rock

At 7,256 feet, Horsetooth Rock is the highest peak on Horsetooth Mountain and the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Park near Fort Collins, Colorado. The 5-mile return hike will gain you 1,440 feet in elevation, so it is considered strenuous. It has a series of switchbacks and stairs but it is well maintained. The views from the top are well worth the effort.

Herman Gulch Trail

The Herman Gulch trailhead can be found just off I-70 near Bakerville, Colorado, in the Arapaho National Forest. The 6.5-mile trail will take you through beautiful rolling tundra to Herman Lake at the entrance to a broad, open valley. The Herman Gulch Trail is part of the Continental Divide Trail and follows Herman Gulch all the way to the tree line before it turns to the lake. You might be lucky enough to spot mountain goats or bighorn sheep along the way.

Arapaho Pass

Starting at the Fourth of July Trailhead, the Arapaho Pass Trail is a beautiful 9.3-mile round trip hike that will take you up through a dense conifer forest before opening up to a green meadow full of wildflowers. It is a steep trail that will gain you 1,781 feet in elevation and you will have to pass a few creeks, but the view of Caribou Lake below and Mount Neva above will take your breath away.

Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline in the Colorado Springs area is considered the most challenging and extreme trail in the country. It will gain you almost 2,000 feet in elevation during a less than 1 mile hike. The trail consists of former railroad ties that now form a unique staircase that provides an excellent workout and a challenging hike. It is not for those not in an excellent condition.

Mills Lake

Starting at the Glacier Gorge trailhead on Bear Lake Road, the 5.3-mile hike to Mills Lake is a very popular destination and can get crowded on weekends and holidays. The hike is considered easy, although it gains 780 feet in elevation. The trail first passes by the scenic 30-foot Alberta Falls before continuing to Mills Junction and the North Longs Peak Trail Junction. From there, you can go towards The Loch and Sky Pond to Lake Haiyaha, or, after crossing Vale Brook and hiking through spectacular Glacier Gorge, towards Mills Lake.

Comanche-Venable Loop

One of the most popular ways of seeing the magical blood-red Sangre de Cristo Mountains at sunset is to hike the Venable-Comanche Trail, which starts just south of Westcliffe. The moderately difficult trail combines two trails to form a 12-mile loop that passes several lakes and an old cabin, all the while enjoying views of magnificent surrounding peaks such as the Comanche, Venable, and Spring Mountain peaks. Experienced hikers recommend starting on the easier Venable Lake Trail and returning downhill on the much steeper Comanche Lake Trail.

Bonito Pass Trail

The Bonito Pass Trail is a gap in Rio Grande County, Colorado, at an elevation of 11,257 feet . The Bonito Pass Trail is only 0.59 miles long and starts near South Fork, Colorado, in the Rio Grande National Forest. It stretches between the end of Forest Road 388 and Continental Divide Trail 813, through valleys filled with wildflowers and patches of densely forested areas. This high-altitude trail is short and not difficult and offers magnificent views in all directions. Once it reaches the Continental Divide Trail, it connects to a number of more demanding hikes.

Mohawk Lakes

Lower Mohawk Lake and Mohawk Lake are located just above the tree line on the south slope of Mount Helen in a magnificent glacial valley in the Ten Mile Range mountain. The trail starts near Breckenridge in Colorado and heads west, crossing Spruce Creek and climbing through a dense forest of aspen, spruce, and fir. Look for moose and elk, this area is rich in wildlife.

The Ribbon Trail

The Ribbon Trail is a fairly difficult 7-mile return trail in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area. It starts at the Lower Ribbon Trailhead and climbs steadily, mostly on sandstone slickrock, with an elevation gain of 2,173 feet. After the trail comes out of the wash, there is a steep rocky section that takes a good scramble to cross. Enjoy the views when you get above Echo Canyon.

Hell Roaring Trail

The Hell Roaring Trail is a difficult 7-mile one-way trail in the Maroon Bell-Snowmass Wilderness, about 14 miles from Aspen. The elevation gain is 3,000 feet. The trail starts at the Hell Roaring trailhead and passes by Hardscrabble Lake before continuing straight on to Williams Lake. After that it starts to climb steeply. It ends at the Avalanche Campground, or you can make a loop trail by continuing on the Avalanche Creek Trail.

Kroenke Lake 

The Kroenke Lake Trail is a fairly difficult 8.2-mile out and back trail that starts close to Buena Vista, Colorado. While the elevation gain is 1,797 feet, the hike is pleasant and shaded, and the trail often crosses creeks, climbing steadily until reaching the lovely lake with plenty of camping places. The way down is gradual and much easier.

Piedra River Trail 

The Piedra River Trail is a well-marked and well-maintained 7.9-mile out and back trail with the trailhead near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This lovely trail starts at a green lush meadow before heading through the Amazon River Gorge. You can see the river from the trail and there are several places you can use to go down to the water for a swim. The elevation gain is 948 feet.

Mounts Democrat Cameron Lincoln and Bross Trail

Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross Trail is a difficult 7.6-mile loop trail accessible through the Kite Lake Trailhead near the town of Alma, Colorado. With an elevation gain of 3,490 feet, this trail will take you high up above 13,000 feet, so be prepared for wind and cold and difficult slippery talus, especially on the way down. The views are breathtaking.

Judd Falls Trail

The Judd Falls Trail is a popular 2.2-mile fairly easy, kid-friendly out and back trail near Crested Butte, Colorado. The elevation gain is only 551 feet and once you reach the falls you will be able to see them in all their glory from the trail. Keep an eye on the birds while hiking, there are plenty of them in the area. There are also interesting informative signs along the trail.

Birthday Peak 

Birthday Peak is a moderately difficult 9.2-trail near the town of Buena Vista. While the trail crosses a number of streams, it is well maintained and pleasant. It gets crowded on weekends. Some hikers are even camping along the trail. Once you get to the base of Birthday Peak, it opens up into a lovely flowery meadow surrounded by snow-covered majestic mountain peaks.

Major Creek Trail

The Major Creek Trail is a moderately difficult 7.0-mile trail between Forest Road 964 and the Forest Boundary in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is a nice hike that passes massive old aspens and several beaver ponds until it reaches a high valley that connects you with trails to Lakes Peak, Electric Peak, and Mount Niedhardt. Major Creek is known for excellent trout fishing in its lower section.

Eccles Pass

Eccles Pass is a 10.2-mile trail in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Although the elevation gain is 2,760 feet, the trail is considered moderately strenuous due to its length. The trail passes through dense forest and open, large meadows and affords fantastic views of the Gore Range. During the summer, the trail is surrounded by flowers. Once you reach Eccles Pass, the views of Red Peak open up and you can clearly see the trail that continues over Eccles towards Red Buffalo. It is a very popular backpacking area, so do not expect any solitude.

McNeil Trail 

The McNeil Trail is a 6.3-mile very popular and moderately difficult hiking trail near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The elevation gain is 1,653 feet, so the trail goes up steadily and, if you wish, will take you all the way to the summit of Cheyenne Mountain. Expect the part close to the summit to be much more strenuous, with some large boulders and fallen trees, but the views from the top are fantastic.

East Marvine Trail 

The Marvine Loop Trail is a 21.4-mile loop trail about 35 miles from Meeker, Colorado, with an elevation gain of 3,946 feet. It is considered difficult and recommended only for experienced hikers and climbers. The trail passes by many streams, lakes, and ponds and is not well marked, so bring a map and compass. Once you reach the flat tops, you will lose the trail completely. There are lot of fallen trees to cross and the going gets a bit rough, but the trail runs a few hundred feet above a river and the views are magnificent.