Top 10 Dog-Friendly Hikes in Colorado

Looking for Colorado hikes you can bring your furry friends along on this summer? I have been hiking with my dogs in colorful Colorado for over six years now, and have certainly learned the best spots to go! Luckily, a lot of Colorado is dog-friendly. But dog-friendliness doesn't always equate to the most ideal trails for your pup. There are certain elements + terrains you may want to avoid if your dog is coming along, such as:

  • Trails with little shade

  • Trails with no water sources (especially true for longer trails)

  • Trails with scrambling

  • Trails longer than 10 miles (depending on the health of your pup)


The following list of trails are ones that you can feel good about bringing your pup along on! *Most trails in Colorado do require your dog to remain leashed so be sure to come prepared with a leash and bags to dispose of their waste*


  1. St. Mary's Glacier

Location: Near Idaho Springs

Distance: 2.5 miles out + back

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: Just over 1,000 feet

Features: A lake, a glacier in the winter, forest, and the ability to continue past the lake to longer, more strenuous hikes.

Considerations:

  • There is a parking lot for this trail but you will need to bring cash to pay the small parking fee.

  • Up until late May, there is potential for snowy/icy conditions on the roads to get there, and on the trail itself.

  • Be aware of the lake conditions when the seasons transition. Do not walk or let your dog walk on the lake if you're not 100% sure it is fully frozen and safe.



2. Butler Gulch Trail


Location: Near Empire

Distance: 5.5 miles out + back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: Roughly 1800 feet

Features: Expansive views, a small waterfall, forest, and a river.

Considerations:

  • There is no official parking lot, so go early, especially on weekends

  • The road to the trailhead is bumpy



3. Lost Lake via Hessie Trail


Location: Near Nederland

Distance: 4 miles out + back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: Roughly 800 feet

Features: Forest, a small waterfall, a lake, and seasonal wildflowers.

Considerations:

  • Until late May, prepare for ice, snow and mud on the trails

  • This is a VERY popular trailhead, so you'll want to arrive very early

  • This area can also be used for backpacking, camping and fishing




4. Rainbow Lakes Trail


Location: Near Nederland

Distance: 2.6 miles out + back

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: Roughly 400 feet

Features: Forest, multiple lakes, and seasonal wildflowers.

Considerations:

  • Is a great kid-friendly and dog-friendly hike

  • This is a VERY popular trailhead, so you'll want to arrive very early

  • Potential for wildlife spottings and lots of mosquitos

  • Until late May, prepare for ice, snow and mud on the trails



5. Greyrock Trail


Location: Near Fort Collins

Distance: 8 mile loop

Difficulty: Hard

Elevation gain: Roughly 2400 feet

Features: Forest, a river, small dog swimming holes at the top, and incredible views.

Considerations:

  • Due to the elevation gain, length, and small amount of scrambling, be sure your dog is fit enough for the challenge

  • Sometimes quite windy at the top




6. Maxwell Falls Lower Trail


Location: Near Evergreen

Distance: 4.5 mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: Roughly 800 feet

Features: Forest, small waterfalls and a river.

Considerations:

  • Limited parking lot and tends to fill up because of close proximity to Denver

  • The falls may be frozen from December-May

  • Wooded for most of the trail

  • You will be very close to the town of Evergreen - head into town after for a bite to eat and to enjoy the quaint little mountain town!




7. Cheeseman Canyon


Location: Near Sedalia

Distance: 5.5 mile out + back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: Roughly 500 feet

Features: Forest, a very ideal for dogs to play in, some scrambling, and canyon views.

Considerations:

  • This area of Colorado tends to have a desert-like microclimate. Check the weather, but prepare for heat. For this reason you'll want your pup to swim in the river as often as possible

  • This is a big fishing area, so be respectful of fisherman

  • If your pup can't handle a little bit of scrambling, this may not be the best option

  • Parking can fill up semi-quickly so be prepared for that




8. McCullough Gulch Trail


Location: Near Breckenridge

Distance: 6.5 mile out + back

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Elevation gain: Roughly 1600 feet

Features: Forest, a river, a lake, expansive views, a small waterfall, some scrambling, and seasonal wildflowers

Considerations:

  • To park at this trailhead, you will need a reservation through https://www.parkquandary.com/. You can also find out about the shuttle system through that website if you don't get a reservation in time!

  • Be prepared for several creek crossings

  • Possible snow and ice until June




9. Herman Gulch


Location: Silver Plume

Distance: 7.5 mile out + back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: Roughly 1800 feet

Features: Forest, a river, a lake, expansive views, and seasonal wildflowers

Considerations:

  • This trail lies within Arapaho National Forest, which does experience seasonal closures. Be sure to check before you go!

  • You will go above tree-line, so prepare for potential windy conditions

  • The trailhead can get very crowded in the summer, so arrive early




10. Silver Dollar Lake and Murray Lake Trail


Location: Silver Plume

Distance: 4 mile out + back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: Roughly 1000 feet

Features: Forest, a river, a lake, expansive views, a small waterfall, and seasonal wildflowers

Considerations:

  • High clearance vehicle recommended to reach the trailhead

  • Typically done in summer months, but also used for snowshoeing

  • Can be quite windy above the tree-line

  • Parking fills up quickly on weekends




Happy Trails to you + your pup! Enjoy!


Bradee




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