One of the questions I get asked the most is hands down, "where are the best hikes in Colorado?" I get it. It’s honestly overwhelming when you first move to, visit, or just start dabbling in hiking here in Colorado because there are sooo many places to see. I experienced that when I first moved here four years ago. I saw pictures and put notes in my phone about hikes people raved about. But I had no idea where to start. So my hope is that this will put you on the right track! I’ve listed the driving distance from Denver on each for frame of reference. If you want more specific details of the hikes or directions, I’ve linked the Alltrails info for each as well. So here are my top ten Colorado hikes (so far!)- happy hiking!!
1. Emerald Lake/Dream Lake or Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park (2 hours from Denver): Okay okay I know these are two different hikes but they are in the same park so just go with it. Emerald Lake/Dream Lake is the more leisurely trail; just 3 miles long + give yourself 2 hours to do it so you can stop for views. Sky Pond is moderate until the final push to the top (requires scrambling). Give yourself about 5 hours to complete this one! Both are sooooo stunning and some of the best that RMNP has to offer in my opinion. *Remember, no doggos allowed in National Parks*
2. Maroon Bells in Aspen: For this one you can just walk around or choose a trail— I would allot 3 hours to enjoy the area plus factor in the shuttle ride! I think the Maroon Bells are a must-see area of Colorado! It’s a 3.5 hour drive from Denver so I recommend staying near aspen and making a weekend of it.
3. Lily Mountain Trail in Estes Park: 3.5 miles total with a gorgeous 360 degree view of the Rocky Mountains at the highest point! That’s what makes this one well worth it. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Denver.
4. Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon: Yeahhhh it’s touristy but for a reason. Do it once okay?! You get canyon views and the lake at the top really is magical. I went in the winter on a weekday and that was ideal to avoid the masses. It’s short and steep. If you do go in the winter, you’ll need spikes FOR SURE. Takes about 2 hours to do and is 2.5 hours from Denver.
5. Chautauqua Flatirons in Boulder: My first ever Colorado hike!! So nostalgic. This is a good one if you have guests because it’s mild but really cool and only 1 hour from Denver! Plus you can hit up Boulder after for bevs, food, shopping or to see random street performers contort their bodies (it’s a boulder thing idk). Give yourself 3 hours if you want to go to the top of the flatirons *which you should*, and 2 hours if you just do the lower loop. You can also access the Royal Arch trail there so the possibilities are plentiful!
6. Lone Eagle Peak in Granby: If you want a long, sorta difficult 7 hour hiking day (16 miles) then this is the trail for you!!! For real though, this was a dope hike. Set your alarm early because it’s about a 2 hour drive to the trail. You’ll need some cash to park also. It’s worth it though my friends because on this trail you’ll experience stunning lakes, waterfalls, babbling brooks, and some unique pointy peaks. Did I sell you on it? Okay good.
7. Cheyenne Canyon — Muscoco summit: Located in Colorado Springs, just 1.5 hours from Denver! This is one pretty canyon- there are different options but I did the Muscoco summit trail which is 5 miles roundtrip (only about 2-3 hours). That leaves you some time to hit up Garden of the Gods too if you’ve never been!
8. Booth Falls in Vail: Yes, there is more to Vail than ski slopes. This trail is awesome in the summer because the wildflowers will be poppin’ as you head up to a waterfall. Give yourself about 2-3 hours for this 4.5 mile hike. (1.5 hours from Denver). Vail is 1.5 hours from Denver but traffic on I70 will get ya so factor that in!!!
9. Long Lakes in Indian Peaks Wilderness: There are lots of trails you can hit up within the Indian Peaks Wilderness area (1.5 hours from Denver) but this one was a beaut. 8 miles total (4 to reach the lake) but super easy + rolling. Just soak up the views and enjoy!
10. Maxwell Falls in Evergreen: This is an easy one to do without much planning because it’s just 45 minutes from Denver! It’s about 5 miles roundtrip and fairly easy (2 hours)- another good one for out-of-towners! Make a day of it and hit up Evergreen after!