My favorite thing about summer in Colorado is hiking. Whether you want a leisurely stroll or to conquer a rigorous fourteener, there's no end to the beauty and adventure to be had! Once the weather turns warm, my days are spent out on the trails. Because I'm always looking for a new adventure, I asked some of my fellow staff members to share their favorite hikes and now I'm sharing them with all of you! Win-win for everyone!
Favorites Near Denver:
When I moved to Colorado six years ago one of the first recommendations I received was to drive up Mt. Evans. There I discovered the Chicago Lakes Trail and a love of hiking in the mountains. A moderately difficult out-and-back trail, it provides beautiful views of valleys, lakes and mountain peaks. Start at beautiful Echo Lake and continue all the way to the peak, or stop at one of the many lakes along the way.
Castlewood Canyon State Park is another staff favorite for its proximity to Denver and great trail options. East Canyon Preservation Trail is a 4.1 mile loop that's a great choice for a quick and easy day hike. Bonus (or not): If you go at the right time of year, you might see some local wildlife, including rattlesnakes.
Nestled in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is another beautiful out-and-back trail of moderate difficulty with big payoff. I recommend trying this one on a weekday because parking in the Brainerd Recreation Area is limited, and you might not get a space unless you start early on the weekend.
White Ranch Park is a great choice for those hiking on a budget. One of the Jefferson County Open Spaces, access to all of its trails are free, and its location just outside of Golden makes it an easy day trip for beautiful views and lots of wildlife.
This is one of my favorites! Just an hour outside of Denver, it offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. I recommend the Staunton Ranch/Scout Line/Marmot Pass trail combination to Elk Pond for those looking for a great workout and beautiful scenery.
Whether you're looking to challenge yourself with some technical rock climbing or marvel at other people's daring and skills, Eldorado Canyon State Park has fun for everyone. For those looking for a less terrifying alternative, I recommend either the Eldorado Canyon Trail or the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail.
Conveniently close to Denver and situated near the beautiful Flatirons in Chautauqua Park, this is probably one of the most difficult day hikes I've done. While it's not nearly as difficult as the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, be prepared for a great workout with all the ups and downs of this trail. The payoff is a beautiful view of Boulder in one direction and Denver in the other. Pro tip: Because this park is right in Boulder, it can be crowded all the time but especially on the weekends. I recommend trying this one in the middle of the week, if possible.
Just outside of Ouray, Colorado (the Switzerland of the USA), this is a beautiful, moderate to difficult out-and-back trail. Especially beautiful in July when the flowers are blooming, take lots of food and water and plan a relaxing soak in the hot springs when you get back to Ouray.
Full disclosure: It's not in Colorado but it is just a short drive up I-25 to I-80 between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming. A gorgeous rock outcropping on the high planes surrounded by forest, it has an easy trail with great views circling its base, but the real fun is in the abundance of places to boulder around on the rocks.