Denver, Colorado, is more than just a bustling urban center; It is also a gateway to a world of outdoor adventures. With the Rocky Mountains in our backyard and plenty of state parks and scenic wonders nearby, Denver offers some of the best hiking opportunities in the country.
In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the ten best hikes in and around Denver. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, a family looking for a fun day outdoors, or someone with limited time looking for a quick getaway, we’ve got you covered. Along the way, we’ll discuss essential tips, gear, and the beauty of the physical and mental health benefits of these hikes.
The 10 Best Hiking Trails in Denver
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Length: 6 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Imagine walking through a natural paradise with stunning rock formations and the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater as your backdrop. This trail combines exercise and music, making it one of the best hikes near Denver. The stunning scenery and stunning acoustics of the natural amphitheater can lift your mood and inspire creativity. This walk not only exercises your body but also nourishes your soul.
Roxborough State Park
Length: 2.3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Roxborough State Park’s stunning red rock formations and unique geological features offer a captivating glimpse into Colorado’s geological history. Walking here encourages mindfulness as you contemplate the ancient processes of the earth. The serenity and beauty of Roxborough also provides peace of mind, reducing stress and anxiety.
North Table Mountain
Length: 7.3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
With panoramic views of Denver and the Front Range, North Table Mountain is a favorite among locals. The stunning views from the top create a feeling of achievement and self-confidence. It is a great place to practice gratitude, surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Length: 2.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy
The trail leading to the top of Lookout Mountain is as rich in history as it is in natural beauty. As you ascend, imagine you are following in the footsteps of Buffalo Bill Cody. This walk is a journey through time and space, offering history lessons, scenic rewards, and a chance to escape the daily grind.
Monte Falcon Park
Length: 7.8 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
This trail takes you through diverse landscapes, including forests, meadows, and historic ruins. At the top you will find the ruins of Walker House, a relic of the past. The contrast of environments stimulates your senses and encourages mental flexibility, while the historical element of the walk adds an extra layer of fascination.
Bear Creek Trail
Length: 4.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy
A leisurely walk along Bear Creek is perfect for those who want to enjoy the tranquility of nature without breaking a sweat. Sometimes the best therapy is the gentle babbling of a stream and the rustling of leaves. This walk is your escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Length: Varies | Difficulty: easy to difficult
Home to a variety of trails, Chautauqua Park caters to hikers of all levels. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed hike or a challenging climb, you’ll find it here. The diverse terrain helps you develop physical strength, endurance and adaptability. It’s a constantly evolving journey that keeps you coming back for more.
South Valley Park
Length: 3.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy
This family friendly trail is a hidden gem in Littleton. The red rock formations and easy trails make it perfect for kids and beginners. Introducing children to nature from a young age fosters a lifelong love of the outdoors. Plus, it’s a fun, bonding experience for the whole family.
Staunton State Park
Length: Varies | Difficulty: easy to difficult
With more than 3,800 acres of land, Staunton State Park offers a variety of hikes. From relaxing walks to challenging peak hikes, this park has it all. Hiking here teaches adaptability and patience, and the diverse trail options mean you can keep things fresh and exciting.
Length: 3.1 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Chief Mountain offers a short but rewarding hike. The panoramic views from the summit are worth every step. The feeling of accomplishment after completing a short, challenging hike is exhilarating. This path helps you appreciate the beauty in life’s fleeting moments.
Hiking trails for families
For families with children, safety is paramount. The following trails are not only easy but also ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
- Cherry Creek Trail: A 40-mile paved trail, perfect for biking and walking. It is an urban oasis that connects downtown Denver with Cherry Creek State Park.
- Waterton Canyon: A gentle 6.2 mile out and back trail along the South Platte River. This is a great place for bird watching, wildlife viewing and picnicking.
- Clear Creek Trail: This 20-mile urban trail offers a mix of paved and unpaved sections, ideal for family walks or bike rides. It meanders through Clear Creek Canyon and offers stunning views.
Mountain Hiking Adventures
If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, Denver offers a variety of mountain hikes that will test your mettle. But remember, safety is paramount when hiking through mountainous terrain.
- Mount Evans: One of Colorado’s 14ers, Mount Evans offers a challenging climb to 14,265 feet. The stunning views from the top are incomparable.
- bear lake: Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Bear Lake Trail provides access to stunning alpine landscapes. It is a moderately challenging hike, suitable for people with some experience.
- Santa Maria Glacier: This trail, just an hour from Denver, takes you to an impressive glacier. While it is not a technically difficult hike, it can be challenging due to the altitude.
- Brainard Lake Recreation Area: This area offers numerous trails, from easy walks to challenging hikes. Indian Peaks Wilderness is an adventurer’s paradise.
Day Hikes Near Denver
For those with limited time, Denver’s proximity to extraordinary natural wonders offers numerous day hike options that don’t require a full weekend.
- Castlewood Canyon State Park: Just a 40-minute drive from Denver, Castlewood Canyon offers a series of short hikes through unique geological formations and a hidden waterfall.
- Emerald Lake: In Rocky Mountain National Park, the hike to Emerald Lake is a short, moderately challenging hike that takes you to a stunning alpine lake.
- Deer Creek Canyon: This 13-mile trail offers a mix of easy and challenging sections. It is an opportunity to explore diverse landscapes without a long car trip.
Essential Hiking Tips and Equipment
Before embarking on any hiking adventure, there are some essential tips to keep in mind:
- Check the weather: Colorado weather can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast and be prepared for sudden changes.
- Moisturize and nourish: Carry enough water and energy-dense snacks to keep your energy levels up.
- Dress in layers: Mountain weather can vary greatly throughout the day, so wearing layers allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
- Map and navigation: Always carry a map and if you are not familiar with the trail, a GPS device can be a lifesaver.
- Security First: Tell someone about your hiking plans, carry a first aid kit, and be prepared for emergencies.
- leave no trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
- Appropriate footwear: Invest in a good pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes to avoid blisters and ensure stability.
Denver’s hiking trails aren’t the only thing worth exploring. Combine your outdoor adventures with visits to these nearby attractions:
- Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater: Attend a concert at this iconic outdoor venue.
- Colorado Springs: Explore the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, both just a short drive from Denver.
- Estes Park: Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, offers charming shopping and beautiful scenery.
- Idaho Springs: Visit this historic mining town and soak in a hot spring after your hike.
Hiking Etiquette and Leave No Trace Principles
As hikers, it is our responsibility to protect the environment and ensure a positive experience for others. Follow these Leave No Trace principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare: Know the regulations and special concerns of the area you will visit. Prepare for extreme weather conditions, hazards and emergencies.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to minimize impact on vegetation and soil.
- Dispose of waste properly: Please pack out all trash and debris, and use established bathrooms when available.
- leave what you find: Preserve the past. Examine, but do not touch, cultural or historical structures and artifacts.
- Minimize the impact of the campfire: Use a camp stove for cooking; It is more efficient and less harmful to the environment.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow them or approach them.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Keep noise levels low, yield, and maintain a friendly attitude toward other hikers.
Improving Physical Fitness: The Synergy of Hiking and Gym Training
While the excitement of hiking Denver’s natural wonders is undeniable, it’s essential to recognize how hiking can complement your gym routine, improving your overall physical and mental well-being. Denver residents, in particular, have access to a fantastic gym option, Chuze Fitness, with multiple locations throughout Colorado.
Combining hiking with a regular gym workout can provide a balanced approach to fitness. Walking outdoors not only helps you build endurance and strength, but also activates your mind, reduces stress and improves your mood. Chuze Fitness Gyms in the Denver Area offer latest generation equipment, group fitness classesand a supportive community that can help you maintain a structured exercise regimen while having fun.
Whether you’re climbing the stairs at Red Rocks Amphitheater or sweating in Chuze Gym, Denver’s diverse fitness options ensure you can enjoy the best of both worlds, achieving your fitness goals and experiencing the physical and mental health benefits that come with it. So, put on your hiking boots and get out into nature, and when you’re back in town, sign up for Chuze Fitness. gym membership to complete your workouts indoors, because balance is the key to a healthy, vibrant lifestyle.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. She has had over 25 years of career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and her son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding, and all things wellness.