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The 25 Best Hikes Near Denver (Our Top Picks for 2024)

The 25 Best Hikes Near Denver (Our Top Picks for 2024)

As the Mile High City in one of the most popular states for outdoor adventure, Denver is surrounded by amazing hiking trails and areas that offer breathtaking views. From the city, you’ll have access to some of the best hiking trails in the country. We’ll show you 25 of the best hikes near Denver and why they should be on your list.

The 25 Best Hikes Near Denver in 2024

If you’re visiting Denver, getting out of the Mile High City to do a little hiking is probably on your list. Sitting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with the Great Plains to the east, the best hikes near Denver offer an excellent variety of landscapes. 

You’ll find yourself ambling over natural rock staircases, strolling through wildflower meadows, walking alongside babbling creeks and tranquil lakes, summiting mountains, and descending deep into valleys and forests as rocky cliffs rise on either side. 

It’s amazing that so close to Denver, you can see an amazing array of wildlife, like mountain goats, prairie dogs, and Rocky Mountain elk. Birding is great in the area and the variety of wildlife you’ll see depends on which direction you head from the city. 

If you’re up for hikes that lead you to secret waterfalls, rocky canyons and peaks, fairytale forests, and serene plains and meadows with the sky rolling out endlessly overhead, you’re going to love the options available to you just outside of Denver.

Let’s take a look at the best hikes near Denver so you can get your itinerary sorted out! 

1. Red Rocks Trading Post Loop

Huge rock formation at the Red Rocks Trading Post Trail, shot on an overcast day as a piece on the best hikes near Denver

Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

If you want a laid-back hike on a well-worn trail through the scenic Red Rocks Park, hit the Trading Post Loop. Stretching 1.6 miles in a loop that’s relatively easy, you’ll walk up staircases and gain a little elevation on this picturesque loop just 24 minutes from Denver. 

Bring the kids and dog (leashed) if you want — everyone can enjoy stretching their legs and taking in some fresh air on this nice little loop hike. Red rock formations loom on either side of the trail and you’ll have excellent views of some of the best areas of the park. 

It’s a popular trail because it’s short and sweet, so expect to run into others appreciating the beauty and small wildlife in this area of the park. There’s a small store at the top with restrooms.

Make the trail longer by hopping onto one of the connections along the way or take the loop as-is and finish up in 30-50 minutes. Things get snowy here in the winter and muddy in the spring, so hiking is best between April and October. 

2. Wild Basin to Calypso Cascades

A man standing on one of the best hikes near Denver, the rocky mountain ridge of Mt Orton in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park

David Spates/Shutterstock

The vast Wild Basin area in Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for some spectacular hikes, but one of our favorites is Wild Basin to Calypso Cascades. This out-and-back trail spans 3.6 miles into the wilderness of the Rockies, leading to cascading falls, wooden bridges, and gorgeous mountain views along the way. 

Dogs aren’t allowed on the trail, but you’ll appreciate the journey from the Wild Basin Trailhead as you cross over small falls and Cony Creek with wooden bridges that offer great views of the water. If you want to extend your hike, connect to trails leading to Upper or Lower Copeland Falls. 

Once you reach Calypso Cascades, you’ll see rushing water bubbling and running over smooth rocky stair-steps to create a stunning visual display. In June and July, the rare purple Calypso orchid blooms on the banks of the creek and falls. In fall, the forests’ colorful foliage makes it particularly scenic. 

Most people take around an hour and 45 minutes to complete the moderate trail, making it perfect if you’re looking for a hike that’s challenging enough to feel rewarding but won’t eat up your entire day. Snow and ice are part of the experience from October through early June. 

3. Mesa Trail: Eldorado Springs to Chautauqua

Remarkable rock formation of the Flatirons and flourishing greeneries in Chautauqua Park are some of the things to spectate in the best hikes near Denver

Narrow Window Photography/Shutterstock

About 45 minutes from Denver, you can experience the beauty of wide, open spaces and rugged mountains on the Mesa Trail from Eldorado Springs to Chautauqua. Parts of the trail are forest-covered with small falls and dirt paths, while others lead you through meadows with stunning Flatirons mountain views. 

Parts of the trail are secluded and quiet with few fellow hikers on the route, but the trail tends to attract more people on the Chautauqua side with its picturesque meadows filled with wildflowers.

Start from either end, but Eldorado Springs is where most people begin the hike. Feel free to bring Fido (leashed). With nearly 6.5 miles to explore, plan on spending about 3 hours to complete this hike. 

People really enjoy running this trail with its relatively low elevation gain, but note that things get a bit more difficult on the climb up from Mesa. You might run into muddy or icy spots during the winter and spring, but nothing that should require spikes or interfere with your hike. 

4. Coyote Song Trail

Hikers taking on the Coyote Song Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver, on a hot afternoon

Wayne Broussard/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 3-mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 321′
  • Location: South Valley Park, Littleton, CO

Red spires of weathered sandstone, craggy rock formations, and low mountains rising on either side create a beautiful backdrop for your hike or run along the easy 3-mile Coyote Song loop in South Valley Park. 

You’ll spend about an hour and 10 minutes hiking this trail, stopping along the way to admire the views and meander onto other sections that connect to the trail. You’ll see people hiking, running, riding horses, and strolling through with leashed dogs on clear days. 

Coyote Song Trail is not a true loop (alone, it’s an out-and-back trail), but you can make it one by linking up with Valley View Trail and Swallow Trail, depending on how long you want to spend hiking.

With these other trail connections, there are multiple parking lots available to reach the loop and that makes it a nice option, even on busy fair-weather days. There’s not a lot of shade before the Valley View section near the end, so prepare with sunscreen and regular water breaks on hot days. 

5. Staunton Ranch Trail to Red Wall

Staunton State Park's green forest and a mountainous skyline during a bright cloudy day is one of the best hikes near Denver

Jeremy Janus/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.8 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 958′
  • Location: Staunton State Park, Conifer, CO

High granite cliffs and evergreen forests contrast with grassy meadows filled with colorful lupine and wildflowers on the Red Wall via Staunton Ranch trail in one of the state’s newest state parks. Secluded and just challenging enough to make it interesting, this is a nice area to hike with plenty of shade and great views. 

You’ll meander along 4.8 miles, passing few other hikers, mountain bikers, or horseback riders in this scenic stretch of wilderness. The elevation change is under 1,000′ with some steep areas, but plenty of flat to gently-rising ground. Feel free to bring your dog on a leash! 

It takes roughly 2.5 hours to finish the hike on the out-and-back trail. The rest of the park has trails that connect or run nearby so you can make a full day of it. At the Red Wall and Never Winter climbing areas, demonstrate your prowess with or without micro spikes in the winter.

Campsites make it possible to spend the night if you want to stay a little longer. Between April and October, conditions are best for hiking.  

6. Garden of the Gods Palmer Trail Loop

A couple taking pictures of the Garden of the Gods signage with Pike Peak in background on a hot summer day, things to do in the best hikes near Denver

John Hoffman/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 4 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 449′
  • Location: Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

The Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara, and Bretag Trail Loop — easier to refer to as the Palmer Loop — is an easy trail along 4 miles of scenic paths that circle around some of the Garden of the Gods’ coolest rock formations with excellent views. 

While it’s technically not a loop trail, you’ll connect the Palmer Trail, Buckskin-Charley Trail, and the Ute Trail to make this beautiful circular path around the park. With low elevation changes and a well-worn, groomed path ahead of you, it’s easy enough to bring kids (and your leashed dog) along. 

You’re likely to see wildlife, like Big horn sheep, on your walk. We recommend a sunrise hike if you can wake up early enough to set out for Garden of the Gods from Denver (it takes about an hour and 15 minutes). 

From the main parking lot, begin on the Palmer Trail through the Siamese Twins rock formation and down to the Buckskin-Charley trail loop before getting on the Ute Trail to head back to your starting point. 

7. Bear Creek Trail to the Wright Castle

An attraction at one of the best hikes near Denver during spring, Dunafon Castle in Lair o the Bear Park

Faina Gurevich/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 2 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 147′
  • Location: Lair O’ the Bear Park, Idledale, CO

Want to hike out to a stone castle in the middle of the Colorado wilderness? At Lair O’ the Bear Park near Idledale, CO, you can do just that on the Bear Creek Trail. Following the trail, there’s a stream crossing, dense forest, and the magnificent Wright Castle appearing unexpectedly in the wood. 

This fortress was defended with a moat, turrets, and features a dungeon and huge, arched windows and doors. You can’t access the castle (private property), but the views are incredible.

The wide Bear Creek Trail leading to the castle is packed dirt and brings you along Bear Creek for scenic water views on the way. 

Near the castle, things are quite shaded and can be cool or icy during the winter months (consider spikes or crampons in this area). Surrounding views of the mountains make the hike even better, and you’re welcome to bring your dog as long as it’s on a leash. 

8. Glacier Gorge Trail to the Loch

A small bridge over a rocky turbulent stream in Glacier Gorge Trail with a cloudy mountain peak in background, one of the best hikes near Denver


The Glacier Gorge trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park is less than an hour and a half from Denver, and it happens to be one of the most popular hikes in the region for its stunning mountain and lake views, waterfalls, glaciers, and beautiful wooded areas. 

The Glacier Gorge trail leads to the Eastern Glacier Knobs, Taylor Glacier, Alberta Falls, and the scenic Loch via the Loch Vale Trail. This alpine lake is serene with wildlife frequenting the spot for a cool drink of water.

You have the potential to take connecting trails over to Lake Haiyaha, Glacier Falls, and Mills Lake if you decide to extend the hike. Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail and it’s a bit too challenging for young kids. 

Moderately difficult, this is a hike for those who are ready for a few challenging sections without a seriously strenuous hike. The trail is about 5.4 miles (out and back) and takes roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete. Along the way, you’ll see people fishing, climbing, and snowshoeing. 

9. Pawnee Pass Trail to Lake Isabelle 

Still waters at Brainard Lake Recreation Area, one of the best hikes near Denver, during a sweet sunset

Brian Wolski/Shutterstock

One of the most gorgeous areas near Denver is Brainard Lake Recreation Area near Nederland, CO. Inside the area, the Pawnee Pass Trail provides a stunning hike that leads to the calm waters of frigid Lake Isabelle, shores studded with small boulders and evergreen trees. 

The Pawnee Pass Trail brings you to Lake Isabelle, which makes the perfect spot to sit down for a picnic or to take photos of the natural beauty and wildlife by the water.

It’s a loop trail that takes about 2.5 hours to complete as long as the summer parking lot is open. Winter hits the area hard, making snowshoes, crampons, or microspikes a necessity for hiking in some parts when snow and ice cover the ground. 

During the winter months, the summer lot closes, adding a few miles along an access road to reach the Pawnee Pass Trailhead. It’s never accessible by vehicle, so even in the summer months, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the trailhead from the summer lot. 

10. Mount Falcon Castle Trail Loop

Ruins standing next to a tree in Mount Falcon Castle Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver

Becca in Colorado/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Distance: 7.4 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,745′
  • Location: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, Morrisson, CO

Who knew there were so many enchanted castles in the Colorado woods? This is one of the best hiking trails near Denver thanks to its location in the otherworldly Red Rocks Park, cool mansion ruins, a gradual incline, and gorgeous views of the Denver skyline. 

The trail leads you all the way to the base of Mount Falcon without going up. Right here in the shadow of the mountain, you’ll find the ruins of the John Brisben Walker mansion ruins — once a grand Craftsman style home, now reduced to stone chimneys and partial walls after a devastating fire back in 1918.  

It should take around 4 hours to complete the trail loop in its entirety. Even with the notable elevation change, the trail isn’t very steep, keeping it firmly in moderate territory and not wandering into hard or strenuous. Dogs are allowed on leashes. 

Hikers note that spikes and snowshoes aren’t generally needed during the winter months for the first 2-3 miles, but deep snow can make shoes and spikes necessary closer to the castle. 

11. Waterton Canyon Trail

Abundant greeneries and rapids in the Waterton Canyon Trail making in one of the best hikes near Denver

Nina B/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 12.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 682′
  • Location: Chatfield State Park, Louviers, CO

Hiking along the bottom of a canyon where the mighty South Platte River flows over smooth stones and boulders is an unforgettable experience. You won’t believe that you’re just 40 minutes from Denver when you’re making your way through this rugged canyon! 

Sometimes referred to as the Colorado Trail, this out-and-back path is moderately difficult and typically takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete. That means you’ll want to plan your day to start early and spend much of your daylight hiking in and back. 

The trail is popular with hikers, horseback riders, and anglers, so you can expect to see plenty of others along the trail. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash. 

It’s part of the Chatfield Internal Trails Network, so you can connect to other trails along the way to shorten or lengthen your hike. These include the Centennial Trail, Highline Canal Trail, and Mary Carter Greenway. 

12. Emerald Lake

Hikers wearing hats and sunglasses trekking on crowded Emerald Lake Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver

Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

Looking for a quick, moderate hike that won’t leave you winded for the rest of the day? The hike to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best hikes near Denver with spectacular views of a clear, alpine lake in a rocky valley of the mountains.

The shoreline is dotted with rows of tall pines and evergreen trees, and once you reach the lake, you’ll look around and find that you’re enveloped by the peaks around you for a truly secluded feel in the heart of Colorado’s wilderness. 

With the relatively short 3.2-mile hike, you can expect it to take around 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete the trail. Dogs aren’t allowed here, so plan accordingly if you’ve brought your pet on your Denver trip. 

During winter, this part of the park gets a lot of deep snow and ice. Ruts, very narrow paths, and sinkholes can make the path treacherous when covered in deep snow, so hikers recommend bringing spikes, poles, or snowshoes along if you’re coming in winter

You can continue on to Dream Lake and Lake Haiyaha if conditions are good on the day of your hike — these lakes are also gorgeous. 

13. Maxwell Falls Loop

A small flowing stream on huge rocks in one of the best hikes nears Denver, Maxwell Falls Loop Trail

Mandy Putnam/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.1 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 879′
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest, Evergreen, CO

Maxwell Falls is a pretty cascade that bubbles over staggered rock ledges in Arapaho National Forest, and this 4-mile loop (shaped like a lollipop) brings you to the falls along with 3 other small cascades for a beautiful day filled with waterfalls and pretty scenery. 

You can take the Upper Falls loop from the same parking lot, but people prefer the Lower Falls route for its scenic views and the ability to get closer to Maxwell Falls. You’ll spend about 2 hours hiking the Lower Falls loop from the trailhead at the parking lot. 

With moderate difficulty and relatively gradual inclines, you should be able to enjoy this hike without too much strenuous effort. The Upper Falls loop is also moderate difficulty and offers a different perspective of Maxwell Falls. 

No restrooms or garbage cans on the loop makes it essential to pack out what you bring in and ensure your needs are taken care of before you set out. Dogs are allowed in this part of the park, but must be kept on a leash.

Bring spikes or snowshoes if you’re hiking in winter, as parts of the loop can be covered in deep snow and ice. 

14. Rimrock to Creek Bottom Trail Loop

Rock formations and several trees on Castlewood Canyon State Park, one of the best hikes near Denver

Narrow Window Photography/Shutterstock

Take the Rimrock Trail to Creek Bottom Trail Loop to see the best Castlewood Canyon State Park has to offer. You’ll pass the Dam Ruins Historic Site, a beautiful waterfall, and wander along the banks of Cherry Creek on this scenic hike. 

Sections of Rimrock Trail are moderate to difficult, while the Creek Bottom Trail Loop is rated as easy to moderate the entire way. The long loop takes you along unpaved paths through the dense wilderness, and you can start the loop from multiple parking lots in the park. 

At the far end opposite the dam ruins, you can continue further along to the 0.35-mile Homestead Trail leading to the Lucas Homestead Historic Site. It’s a great addition to the relatively short loop and really neat to see the old structures and “fancy wall.”

The west side of the canyon (where this trail is located) gets extremely muddy during the late winter and spring months. Even summer months can be a mudpit after heavy rains, so bring boots and watch the forecast. This park is day-use only with no campsites available, so make sure to set out in time. 

15. Spruce Creek to Mohawk Lakes Trail

The cold waters of Mohawk Lake, surrounded by icy slopes, is a popular hiking trail and one of the best hikes near Denver

Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 8.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 2,106′
  • Location: White River National Forest, Breckenridge, CO

Ready for a real challenge in the heart of the Rocky Mountains? Head near Breckenridge to White River National Forest, about an hour and 50 minutes from Denver, if you’re up for an adventurous day trip somewhere scenic. 

The White River National Forest’s Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail brings you 8.4 miles out with steep elevation changes through aspen and pine forests, past huge granite formations, Continental Falls, and several alpine lakes where the world seems to fade away around you. 

You’ll begin near the Blue River on the Spruce Creek Trailhead and walk past stunning mountain peaks as you begin a steep incline. Once you reach the Mohawk Lakes Trail, you’ll encounter Mayflower Lakes, then Lower Mohawk Lake, Continental Falls, and finally, Upper Mohawk Lake. 

Leave Denver early in the morning to do this difficult, roughly 4-hour hike — it takes close to a full day with travel considered, and the small parking lot tends to fill up quickly with the popularity of this particular hike. 

16. Shadow Pine Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 4 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 383′
  • Location: Flying J Ranch Park, Conifer, CO

Switch gears to an easy, laid-back hike in Flying J Ranch Park on the popular Shadow Pine Loop Trail. Easily accessible from the parking lot and taking just 1.5 hours to complete, this hike is one of our favorites near Denver when you’re bringing kids or your dog along. 

Along the trail, you’ll meander along a circle through the heart of the park and come across lots of wildlife, especially birds. The peaceful loop is alive with birdsong and Douglas fir, ponderosa pines, and lodgepole pines.

Connections to the short Schoonhoven Trail, Aviator Trail, John’s Landing Trail, and Junction House Trail are marked along the loop and can be fun additions to your hike. You might see people snowshoeing in the park during the winter when snowpack is deep! 

Stop for a picnic at one of the antique wooden shelters near the trailhead (you’ll also find restrooms and the parking lot here). 

17. Devils Head Lookout Trail

Distinct rocks formations and lush forest of Devils Head Lookout Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver, and a vast skyline in background


  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.8 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 866′
  • Location: Pike National Forest, Larkspur, CO

Travel a long, bumpy dirt road to get to the trailhead for Devils Head Lookout Trail in Pike National Forest. This out-and-back trail is less than 3 miles long with moderate difficulty, making it a good choice if you’re ready to bump up from an easy hike but don’t want a trail that’s too challenging. 

Devils Head Lookout starts at a trailhead deep in Pike National Forest, requiring a 4WD vehicle during the winter months with lots of snow in the area. Dense evergreen forests shade most of the trail, so snow takes longer to melt here than elsewhere in the park. 

Along the way, you’ll find incredible mountain views, but the real prize is the Devils Head Lookout at the top. A fire tower lookout can be reached along another short but steep trail. 

The trail may be closed during the winter months due to lots of ice and snow, but if it’s open, you’ll want to make sure you bring crampons or spikes to help you make your way over slippery terrain. 

18. Grays and Torreys Peaks

Aerial view of a skyline and Kelso Ridge from summit of Torrey's Peak, one of the tallest and the best hikes near Denver


  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 8.1 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 3,602′
  • Location: Arapaho National Forest, Idaho Springs, CO

Once you’ve got some moderate and hard hikes under your belt near Denver, you may be ready to take the leap to your first two Colorado 14ers: hikes over 14,000 feet elevation. Grays and Torreys Peak in Arapaho National Forest is one of the best high-elevation hikes nearby. 

It’s just over 8 miles out and back to reach the maximum elevation at the peaks of 14,279 feet — enough to quite literally take your breath away if you haven’t acclimated yourself to hiking in these elevations.

With over 3,600 feet in elevation changes and a long trail length, this trail is hard, but rewarding. Mountain goats, Bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, and other wildlife can be seen on this less-travelled hike high up into the mountains. 

Reach the trailhead from Stevens Gulch Road (4WD needed) and hit the Grays Peak Trailhead to begin gaining elevation on the path. Continue up to Grays Peak, then back down and north to Torreys Peak to get your second 14er in one hiking trip!

19. Walker Ranch Loop 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7.9 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,610′
  • Location: Walker Ranch Park, Boulder, CO

In Walker Ranch Park near Boulder, CO (just under 1 hour from Denver), you’ll find the popular Walker Ranch Loop trail that’s long enough to spend about 4 hours hiking, but easy to moderate in difficulty so it won’t wear you out.

This scenic loop trail leads you through the park’s vast recreation area with elevation changes that keep it interesting and beautiful natural formations. You’ll walk along Martin Gulch and Tom Davis Gulch, and cross South Boulder Creek along the way. 

There are picnic tables, restrooms, and a few fishing areas at the parking area and on the gulch/creek crossings if you decide to make a day of it. You’ll encounter lots of people along the trail, but coming early in the morning can help you arrive to thinner crowds. 

Feel free to bring your pup, but keep it on a leash! Hikes here are best between March and November, but conditions can be muddy right after the snow melts. 

20. Chasm Lake

Clear green waters of the Chasm Lake at the base of Longs Peak, a part of Rocky Mountain National Park and one of the best hikes near Denver

Sean Xu/Shutterstock

With a dramatic name like Chasm Lake, you know the hiking here is good! Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Chasm Lake Trail leads you 8 miles into the wild Rocky Mountain National Park to a beautiful glacial lake at the base of Long’s Peak, the highest in the park. 

It’s the steep elevation changes, trail length, and intense wintry conditions that give this trail a hard difficulty rating. You shouldn’t try hiking to Chasm Lake unless you’ve completed several moderate hikes at high elevations and feel ready to try one that’s more strenuous. 

To get here, you’ll follow the Longs Peak Trailhead through barren tundra and alpine forests to reach the lake and views of the mountains standing tall and surrounding you. Be aware that parts of the trail are quite narrow, so be sure-footed with each step. 

Winter can be treacherous on the trail, with deep snow drifts, high winds, and icy patches that require the use of crampons, spikes, and/or snowshoes. Some of the trail may disappear entirely in the snow, but the trees allow you to see where you’re headed. 

21. Lookout Mountain Trail

View from the peak of misty Lookout Mountain, one of the best hikes near Denver with thick layers of Pine Trees

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 777′
  • Location: Windy Saddle Park, Golden, CO

When you want the possibility of multiple trails and the certainty of awesome mountain views with a relatively short 2-hour hike, the Lookout Mountain Trail in Windy Saddle Park is your best bet.

This 4.4-mile trail (one-way) guides you through open meadows, dense forests, and to a peak looking down over green valleys and the city of Golden, CO. But the real treasure of this trail is how many possibilities for further hikes there are along the way. 

While you won’t find signs directing you on these other trails, you’ll see the trail fork off in two directions past the rockslide on your way up the mountain. You’ll come out along a ridge with great views of Golden and the road down below. 

At the top of the trail, you’ll find the Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve before continuing down Colorow Road, where even more side trails are waiting to explore. Turn back or take the shuttle back to your car. Bring your dog, but only if it’s on a leash! 

22. North Mount Elbert Trail

Icy Twin Peaks of Mount Elbert, the tallest peaks in Colorado and one of the best hikes near Denver

Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 9.8 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 4,458′
  • Location: San Isabel National Forest, Twin Lakes, CO

Ready to mark off your third 14er? The North Mount Elbert Trail in San Isabel National Forest is a popular place to put those legs and lungs to the test in a beautifully scenic mountain setting near Twin Lakes, CO. 

Mount Elbert stands 14,439 feet and is Colorado’s highest peak. It also stands out as the highest mountain that dogs are allowed to summit alongside you, so bring your pup if you’re up for an adventure together! Bring plenty of water, first aid, and snacks. 

You’ll encounter steep climbs with almost 4,500 feet of elevation gains on this difficult trail, but the views you’ll reach at the top — and the wildlife and scenery you’ll see along the way — make it well worth the 7.5 hour climb. 

North Mount Elbert Trail is the shorter of two trails that lead up the mountain. South Mount Elbert Trail is over 15 miles long and features over 4,900 feet of elevation gains on the trail, so if you want an even fiercer challenge, you know where to head! 

23. Evergreen Mountain Trail

Morning mists above Alderfer/Three Sisters Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver

Brian Wolski/Shutterstock

At the base of Evergreen Mountain, the East and West trailheads both lead you up to the summit of Evergreen Mountain, a proud peak standing 7,139 feet above sea level.

You’ll only have to climb 1,017 feet to reach the summit from Alderfer Park near Evergreen, CO. This moderate trail loops back where you began, making it convenient and the perfect option for a day trip from Denver.

Views from the summit are amazing and you’ll be able to see for miles, overlooking nearby mountains that appear like rumpled green blankets with huge meadows and valleys below. 

With 10+ trails in the park (the most of any foothills park in the state), you don’t have to end your adventure with the Evergreen Mountain trail loop. The parking area is limited, so come early to grab a spot and set out on your 2 hour, 40 minute summit hike! 

24. Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop

A lonely house on misty peaks of Bridal Veil Falls, as seen from Black Bear Pass trail in Deer Creek Canyon Park, one of the best hikes near Denver

Sean Xu/Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.9 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 534′
  • Location: Deer Creek Canyon Park, Littleton, CO

The Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop is the most popular hike in Deer Creek Canyon Park for a reason. The views are unmatched for such a small elevation gain, and the forested areas are absolutely breathtaking in the fall months. 

From the trailhead (you’ll find restrooms and picnic spots here), you’ll set out to see wildflower meadows where birds and buzzing insects congregate, dense stands of old-growth trees, and panoramic mountain views with craggy cliff faces and (if you’re early enough) foggy morning mists. 

With very limited elevation change, what makes this trail moderate isn’t the climb — it’s the terrain, which is rocky with a few short but steep inclines along the way. Most of the time, you’ll be rising gradually, but those steep areas can be killer. 

The trail may close from February to June/July as protected raptors nest here. Feel free to bring your dog along for this one, but make sure it’s on a leash. You’ll take about an hour and a half to hike this loop trail and you’ll be so glad you did! 

25. Carpenter Peak Trail

Boulders seen from Carpenter Peak Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver

David Spates/ Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation gain: 1,089′
  • Location: Roxborough State Park, Louviers, CO

Near the Waterton Canyon/Colorado Trail, you’ll find the moderate 6.4-mile trail that leads to Carpenter Peak in Roxborough State Park. This trail rises the highest of any in the park and starts from Willow Creek Trail by the Visitor Center. 

Follow Willow Creek Trail about half a mile to reach the fork where Carpenter Peak Trail begins. You’ll travel 3.25 miles each way to reach the summit, passing zones that are hard with mostly moderate territory.

From the top, you’ll be able to look down over downtown Denver, Pike National Forest, and the surrounding mountain peaks. For the gorgeous views at the summit, it’s really not that difficult of a journey and is one of the best hikes near Denver. Dogs are allowed on the trail with a leash. 

Set aside about 3 hours for the hike, making it a full day trip from Denver if you’re serious about enjoying the natural beauty this part of the state has to offer. 

Things to Consider

Guy climbing Quandary peak, one of the best hikes near Denver, Colorado

Rosemary Woller/Shutterstock

Hiking in the mountains, meadows, and valleys around Denver is an exciting notion, but you want to come prepared! The terrain out here can be as dangerous as it is gorgeous, so keep the following tips in mind.

  • Go when the weather is fair. Between June and late September, conditions are best for hiking — especially if you’re new to hiking or don’t have experience and tools for winter hiking (spikes, crampons, poles, snowshoes, etc.). These warm-weather months offer lots of wildlife, beautifully lush views, and easier hiking.  
  • Get acclimated. Altitude sickness is no joke, and if you’re hiking high in the mountains without being acclimated first, you’re putting yourself and your hiking crew at risk. Stay in Denver at least 1-2 nights before attempting a hike, start with shorter trails at lower elevations, get altitude supplements, drink plenty of water, and slowly work your way up. 
  • Have a plan for storms. What if you’re high up in the mountains or miles into a trail when a sudden thunderstorm hits? Being weather aware is essential for long hikes. You need rain gear and a plan in case of storms — descend from hills and peaks, find shelter, and avoid slick, muddy areas. 
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat. While many of the best hiking trails near Denver are shaded in parts, most of them feature at least some wide-open spaces where the sun beats down on you incessantly. Bring plenty of sunscreen and reapply as needed, wearing a hat to give your face more protection. 
  • Be aware of bears and wildlife. Hiking trails near Denver mean you could see a bear, elk, snake, or other potentially dangerous animal along the way. Bear spray, a snake bite kit, a first aid kit, and understanding what to do if you find yourself near dangerous wildlife are essential for a safe hiking trip. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Trading post trail in Morrison, one of the best hikes near Denver


Now that you’re familiar with the best hiking trails near Denver, let’s look over some of the most frequently asked questions other travelers had about hiking in the area! 

What is the most scenic hike in Colorado?

The hike to Chasm Lake is among the most scenic hikes in Colorado, ranking as one of the most popular among locals and visitors in the state. It's a hard 8-mile hike that leads to a clear, alpine lake nestled at the base of Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Where should I hike near Denver?

Figuring out where you should hike near Denver is easier with a list of the best hikes near the Mile High City. The ultimate hikes (easy, moderate, and hard) are located in parks like Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapaho National Forest, Red Rocks Park, and scenic open areas in the foothills.

Is Denver good for hiking?

Denver is a good city for hiking with close proximity to thousands of trails located within an hour or two from the city, like Red Rocks and Rocky Mountain NP. You'll even find short trails within city limits at parks and natural areas if you're not up for a longer day trip!

What is the closest peak to Denver?

Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO is about 30 minutes from Denver, making it the closest peak. But Mount Evans, now called Mount Blue Sky, is the closest true mountain peak (a 14er, over 14,000 feet in elevation) about 1 hour from Denver at 14,265 feet.

What is the 14er closest to Denver?

Mount Blue Sky, formerly known as Mount Evans, is the 14er closest to Denver. It sits about 1 hour southwest of the Mile High City and stands at an impressive 14,265' high if you're interested in summiting your first 14er!

The Best Hikes Near Denver: A Summary

Man, in full hiking gear, taking a breath break while looking ahead a mountainous trail which is one of the best hikes near Denver


There’s no doubt that Colorado is one of the top destinations for scenic hikes — its rugged and untamed mountains, valleys, meadows, and alpine lakes make it hard to beat if you’re looking for scenic hiking trails. 

Whether you’re up for a 10-mile out-and-back hike and crushing your first 14er or want a laid-back stroll through idyllic meadows with surrounding mountain views, the best hikes near Denver cover all the bases. 

So pack up your comfiest hiking boots and load up on the sunscreen and water to set out on one of the most rewarding trips you’ll ever take: Venturing into the beautiful wildness surrounding Denver and Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountains.