The 15 Best Hikes In Denver

Published by: Bounce29 January, 2022

Denver is the capital city of Colorado and a great place to book a vacation. If you are a regular outdoorsy person you will be happy to learn that Denver has the largest park system of any city in the nation. Imagine – 14,000 acres to explore on the mountains and 2,500 acres dedicated to other nature reserves!

The city is nicknamed the Mile High City since it sits at exactly 5280 feet, or one mile, above sea level. If you like hiking in the mountains you will have lots of places to discover since 200 of the nearby mountain peaks are named and 32 of them reach over 13,000 feet in height, offering some beautiful views of the city. Before you leave for a gorgeous hike up the Rocky Mountains, keep your hiking packs with you but stow the rest of your bags in one of our locations for luggage storage in Denver.

Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Denver

Bear Creek Canyon Park in Lakewood

This hike is only a short half hour drive away from the city and is a great place to have a relaxing hike by yourself or with the family. This place offers lots of activities too, like camping, horseback riding or swimming in the lake.

There is a whole system of trails to explore here like the Owl Trail or Fitness Trail. Most paths go along the river and if you follow the Bear Lake trailhead you will find yourself at Bear Creek Lake. The mountain overlooking the lake is Mount Carbon which can be reached through the Cottonwood Trail.

Chautauqua Park in Boulder

You can reach this park easily from Denver as it is only a short drive or bus ride away. The hikes in Chautauqua Park offer unforgettable views of the Flatiron Mountains, which you can get to from inside the park.

This area has hikes suitable for beginners or experienced hikers with trails of different lengths and challenge levels. The Chautauqua trail is a great place to start, or you can try the Flatiron trail or Mesa trail.

North Table Mountain Park in Golden

This mountain park has 27.4km of paths for you to hike on with some beautiful panoramic views along the North Table Loop trail. It is also a great place to find some mountain biking trails around the base of the mountaintop.

You can also reach Cottonwood Trail from here which will bring you back to the Bear Creek Canyon Park if you follow it for long enough. You can definitely spend a whole day walking these paths so make sure to bring enough water and pack a lunch. Rattlesnakes are common here, so be on the lookout.

Windy Saddle Park in Golden

Found right next door is the Windy Saddle Park which is about a half hour away from Denver by car. It is the perfect spot for a hike on a summer's day since the shade of the trees will keep you cool. Enjoy your time among the birds and butterflies while you walk along the Beaver Brook Trail.

This trail is not too strenuous and is fairly flat, although there are lots of rocks, fallen trees and a creek that you will have to cross. In the same area, you can find the Lookout Mountain Trail which boasts some amazing panoramic views. You'll no doubt build an appetite with this one so enjoy brunch in Denver afterward!

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

This nature park is found a little further away from the city center and will take about an hour and a half to drive to. Once you reach the Garden of the Gods you will see the breathtaking red rock formations and get the chance to stroll around the property of an old ranch.

The paths from the visitor center will take you right to some short but beautiful hiking trails, or you can take part in a self-guided tour either by foot or by car. The trails are about four miles long and perfect for a family outing. While you are here be sure to visit the Cathedral Valley.

Cherry Creek Regional Trail in Franktown

If you feel like getting some fresh air and don't want to travel very far from the city, take a look at the Cherry Creek Regional Trail. It is located less than half an hour by car from inside Denver and can be reached by public transportation too.

Although you won't get an amazing view, this trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate. There are 40 miles of paths to walk, bike or run on and it passes through different neighborhoods in the city showing you some nice sights of downtown Denver.

Mount Falcon in Morrison

Travel for just over half an hour in the other direction to reach Mount Falcon, which is home to a beautiful network of trails near Denver. There are lots of paths to discover here like the Castle Trail, Tower Trail and Meadow Trail.

From Mount Falcon, you will have easy access to other nearby parks like the Red Rocks Park and Red Rocks Amphitheater or the Jefferson County Open Space. The best part of the trails on Mount Falcon is that you can come across some historic areas like the ruins of a forgotten castle.

Castlewood Canyon State Park in Franktown

Found just a bit further away is the Castlewood Canyon State Park. This place will take about an hour to get to but offers some great hiking trails. There are mostly shorter hikes available here, but those who want to trek for longer can connect more than one loop trail together.

This place is stunning and you might even pass by some ancient sights like the Dam Ruins. You should be aware that these prairies are home to lots of wildlife including bluebirds, canyon wrens and snakes. Some of them can be dangerous, so make sure to wear proper footwear and don't let your dogs or children off of the paths unsupervised. As with any hike, carry a first aid kit in your bag.

Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen

Escape into nature with one of the best hikes in Denver, found in Evergreen. This park is full of gorgeous views of both the mountains and overlooking the city.

There are many trails to hike on here of different difficulty levels so you are all set whether you want to take a relaxing stroll or a more strenuous workout. While you are walking through the Evergreen forests and fields to reach Bergen Peak you might even see herds of grazing deer, elk, beautiful wildflowers or other wildlife.

Estes Park in the Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is a little over a two hour drive away from downtown Denver but the views of Mills Lake and other areas are some of the most rewarding. The round trip around the crown of the peak is about 5.3 miles long but is filled with some incredibly scenic places like the Alberta Falls.

Aside from the beautiful Mills Lake, this area is home to the Glacier Creek footbridge. If you want to spend a few days in the town of Estes Park you can explore other nearby peaks like Pagoda Mountain, Thatchtop Mountain or Chiefs Head Peak.

St. Mary's Glacier in St. Mary's

St. Mary's is further away from Denver but takes only an hour to reach by car. The hike is short but enjoyable and is of moderate difficulty. The trail will take you through a nice pine forest to St. Mary's Lake and Silver Creek.

The glacier that this trail is named after is a semi-permanent mass of snow that is used for backcountry skiing. Continuing on the path you will travel through a high alpine meadow and reach the bottom of James Peak mountain.

Centennial Cone Park in Golden

This park has 24.1km of trails and pathways that are used by mountain bikers, joggers, horseback riders, or people who just want to take a walk in the area. The best path to discover is the Clear Creek Trail which is a local favorite for good reason.

You can choose to explore the whole loop around Centennial Cone or just take the smaller Mayhem Gulch trail. There is a nice flowing waterfall along this path that can be seen in the summertime and is used for ice climbing during the winter.

Lair O' the Bear Park in Idledale

Just a short drive from the city is the Lair O' the Bear Park. Here you can find gorgeous snow-peaked mountains, a beautiful forest, and even the newly restored Dunafon Castle. You will start off following a river and end up in the hills that offer a nice unobstructed view of the area.

The best way to go is on the Bear Creek Trail. The path can get steep near the end so be sure to wear the right equipment and mind your footing. Once you reach the top you will backtrack on the same path to get back to where you started.

Enchanted Forest in Golden

The neighborhood of Golden has a stunning Enchanted Forest for everyone to enjoy. You have several options here, either to go on a loop, walk to a point and then back or take some side trails.

You will cross a bridge over a creek into a stunning forest that almost feels magical. The hike is not too difficult which makes it a great choice for active families, although it is long so make sure that everyone is up to the task.

Mount Evans in Upper Bear Creek

Mount Evans is where you will find the lake at the highest elevation in the whole city. Make your way to the point between the north face of Mount Evans and the east face of Mount Spalding where you will find Summit Lake at 3912m above the sea.

There is just one trail here that is fairly short and moderately difficult. Once you reach your target of Summit Lake you can take the same path back or follow a steeper but shorter route down the northeastern part of Mount Evans.

Easy Hikes in Denver

Windy Saddle Park

If you are looking for an easy hike near the city go here, since the area is fairly flat and not too challenging.

Bear Creek Canyon Park

The hiking, biking or horseback riding trails found here are not too difficult and can be explored by people of all ages and experience levels.

Centennial Cone Park

Centennial Cone Park is a good spot for a simple and short hike as most of their paths aren't too challenging.

Garden of the Gods

The Red Rocks Trail at Garden of the Gods can be visited by anyone either by foot or by car.

Cherry Creek Regional Trail

This area is easy to get to and easy to get around with the option of taking breaks inside the city.

Intermediate Hikes in Denver

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest in Downtown Golden can be a fun challenge for the whole family since it is not difficult terrain but can be long.

Lair O' The Bear Park

This is another great activity for intermediate hikers since it is not too challenging but does get steep near the end.

St. Mary's Glacier

St. Mary's Glacier is fun for people of intermediate skill levels and does not take too long to complete.

Estes Park

Estes Park is challenging enough for experienced hikers to stay interested but easy enough for beginners, and the beautiful views from here are a great reward.

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Since Castlewood Canyon State Park has both short and longer hikes everyone can find a way to challenge themselves.

Difficult Hikes in Denver

Mount Falcon

The trails on Mount Falcon can be difficult but seeing the gorgeous red rocks make it worth the extra work.

Elk Meadow Park

Although some of the hikes here can be done by those with less experience, the best views will be seen on the tougher trails.

Mount Evans

The terrain here is moderately difficult to navigate but the elevation gain on this hike can make it more dangerous and challenging.

North Table Mountain Park

North Table Mountain Park trails will take you several miles round trip so be prepared to hike for a while here.

Chautauqua Park

Chautauqua Park has trails suited to everybody making it a great place to test your skill level, but if you can manage it, we recommend following one of the more difficult paths.

Hike to the top of Green Mountain and beyond in Denver

All of our favorite hikes listed above are found within two hours of the city limits and are easy to find. They all offer some amazing climbing routes and each one has a unique trail system and landmarks for you to discover, like a massive rock formation, the Elk Falls Overlook, Alpine Lakes or Castle Rock.

Whether you are looking for a short trail, moderate hike or somewhere to do some intense rock climbing, Denver has it all. From Idaho Springs to the Eastern Plains or Staunton State Park to the Wild Basin Trail Network, there are so many more places to have outdoor adventures in Denver.

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