• Bradee Smith

Best Hikes Near Denver

One of the biggest draws of living in Denver is the ability to be in close proximity of the mountains. You get the city hustle and bustle but can so easily remove yourself entirely from the noise with as little as a 30 minute drive. For weekend warriors such as myself, the closeness of the mountains is essential. I work in Denver Monday-Friday, and therefore feel the draw to escape to the mountains every weekend. It’s amazing to have access to both. There are so many days I can remember taking friends who were visiting to the mountains for the morning to hike, then spent the afternoon bouncing around neighborhoods in Denver. Best of both worlds! Maybe even more than ever, this close proximity is a gift. We are all under a stay-at-home order with strict regulations for what is deemed as an acceptable outing. Being able to soak up some mountain air amidst being primarily cooped up at home has been so valuable to my mental well-being. So whether you’re reading this as we are currently restricted due to COVID-19, or you’re just looking for a quick hike to do with friends on a whim without driving too far, here are some trails close-ish to Denver to give you a little mountain-fix. * Some are further than others and won’t be appropriate during the stay-at-home regulations. The trails that are okay for you to hike right now will vary based on the county you live in, as we have been ordered to “recreate near where you live”. Keep in mind that all current hiking should follow social distancing regulations – if the trail is overcrowded, opt out. *



1. Chief Mountain

Commute from Denver: 1 hour

Distance: 3.1 miles

Location: Near Idaho Springs in Arapaho National Forest

Elevation Gain: 984 feet

Difficulty: Somewhat steep since you are going up to the summit but rated as moderate

Hike type: Out + back

Dogs: are allowed on leash

Parking: Roadside parking by the trail- NOT a prominent trailhead or parking lot so be on the lookout

Why I love it: The 360 degree views at the top are so stunning you’ll forget you’re just an hour from the city. You get a lot of bang for your buck – insane views but a fairly easy, short hike.


2. Royal Arch in Chautauqua Park

Commute from Denver: 40 minutes

Distance: 4 miles

Location: Boulder in Chautauqua Park

Elevation Gain: 1,492 feet

Difficulty: The steady elevation gain makes this trail moderate

Hike type: Out + back

Dogs: are allowed on leash

Parking: Park at the Chautauqua Park parking lot or on a nearby residential street if the lot if full. You’ll begin hiking at the Chautauqua trail then follow signs for Royal Arch as you reach a fork.

Why I love it: The main attraction of this trail, the Royal Arch, will give you major Utah vibes yet you’re a very short drive from Denver. You also get to enjoy the beauty of the Chautauqua flatirons making this trail quite diverse.


3. Panorama Point to Bear Creek Trail

Commute from Denver: 40 minutes

Distance: 3 miles

Location: Corwina Park near Kittredge

Elevation Gain: 649 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Hike type: Loop

Dogs: are allowed on leash – look out for bikers

Parking: Parking lot available or you can park on the shoulder right by the trailhead. Take a photo of the map at the trailhead to ensure you don’t end of on another trail (there are numerous in Corwina Park)

Why I love it: Panorama Point is a pleasant surprise after mostly hiking through woods. Once you get to the clearing at the top, you are rewarding with gorgeous views (hence the name)!


4. North Table Mountain Park

Commute from Denver: 25 minutes

Distance: varies depending on the trail you pick

Location: Golden

Elevation Gain: around 1,000 feet (Varies depending on trail)

Difficulty: Easy

Hike type: Some are loops, some are out + back

Dogs: are allowed on leash – look out for bikers

Parking: Parking lot available for all of the trails in North Table Mountain Park

Why I love it: There are so many different trails you can take within this park and it’s nice and open. If you’re looking for a long hike, you can do the rim loops. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, you can go straight up to the table mountain and just walk around. There are plenty of options. Plus I love the desert feel, the views of Golden, and the super close proximity to Denver.


5. Flatiron Vista Trail

Commute from Denver: 30 minutes

Distance: 3.5 miles

Location: Boulder

Elevation Gain: 285 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Hike type: Loop

Dogs: are allowed off leash at the beginning, but you’ll want to look out for bikers. At a certain point, leashes are required.

Parking: Parking lot available at the trailhead

Why I love it: You can see the backside view of the flatirons in a wide open space. This one was great for the dogs to run around. Once you reach the valley, I think that is the most gorgeous part. Perfect location for a picnic watching the sunset.


6. Red Rocks Trail

Commute from Denver: 20 minutes

Distance: 5.8

Location: Morrison- overlooking Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Elevation Gain: 1,181 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Hike type: Out + Back

Dogs: are allowed on leash

Parking: Parking lot available at the trailhead for Matthews Winter Park

Why I love it: The views of Red Rocks make this trail! It’s also great if you’re a beginner trail runner! Plus this is just so close to the city that you can easily enjoy the mountains on a whim and make it a quick trip.

7. Kruger Rock Trail

Commute from Denver: *This one is a little further than the others listed but WORTH IT*

1.5 hours

Distance: 4 miles

Location: Estes Park

Elevation Gain: 977 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Hike type: Out + Back

Dogs: are allowed on leash

Parking: Parking lot available at the trailhead for Hermit Park ($9 parking fee as you enter but cash is not required)

Why I love it: While the 360 degree mountain view of Rocky Mountain National Park and other surrounding peeks is the real stunner, you also get gorgeous views randomly throughout the entire hike. Once you reach Kruger Rock I definitely recommend having a picnic and staying a while to soak up those vistas!



8. Independence Mountain

Commute from Denver: 30 minutes

Distance: 2.3 miles

Location: Evergreen in Pence Park

Elevation Gain: 761 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Hike type: Out + Back

Dogs: are allowed on leash

Parking: Parking lot available at the trailhead

Why I love it: It’s a short, sweet hike to the Panorama views at the summit of Bear Mountain, Evergreen and the Rockies.


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