Summer may be winding down, but that only makes hitting the trails more desirable because you don’t have to endure 90 degree temperatures and hoards of other hikers. Our magnificent mountain parks offer an abundance of options for hiking near Denver, but we’ve narrowed it down to some of the best jaunts that are no more than 45 minutes from the Mile High City. Enjoy vista views, magical mesas, majestic rock formations, and plenty of fresh air and sunshine – nature’s remedy for the city-sick soul. Happy trails, Denverites! Get out there and grab life by the bootstraps!
1. Chimney Gulch Trail
This steep, strenuous trail in Windy Saddle Park winds up Lookout Mountain and rewards hikers with sweeping vista views that make the workout well worth it. It's 5 miles round-trip, takes roughly 2 to 3 hours to complete, and is located less than 30 minutes from the metro area. Windy Saddle Park is a win, win, win!
2. North Table Mountain Trail
Another nifty set of trails which just so happens to offer phenomenal 360 degree views are the North Table Mountain Loops. Enjoy glorious glimpses of the Rockies, Denver, Golden, and the surrounding foothills on this vast network of trails that range from 2.7 to 7.7 miles RT.
3. Flatirons Vista Loop
The Flatirons Vista Loop near Boulder offers two easy loop options that are just 1.9 and 3.3 miles round-trip. These short jaunts pack a big punch with remarkable views of the distinctive Flatirons, lush meadows, and local wildlife.
4. Flagstaff Road Trail
Flagstaff Road and its namesake 3.9-mile loop trail near Boulder are downright breathtaking and should be conquered by every Denverite at least once. Not to mention that this perfectly picturesque bench along the way is a prime spot for a meditative mountain moment.
5. Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails
Castlewood Canyon is one of Colorado's most unique state parks and offers 15 trails, ranging from 1/4 to 4 miles, and can be combined to create a nearly perfect Colorado adventure. Spend your day wandering along creeks, caves, canyons, waterfalls, meadows, and historic ruins. (Highlights include the Cave Trail, Homestead Trail, and Canyon View Nature Trail.)
6. Trading Post and Red Rocks Trails
I make weekly ventures to Red Rocks Park to walk amongst the dominating rock formations and gain some perspective by viewing our massive metropolis from afar. The wonderfully unique giant sandstone outcroppings exude such a peaceful yet powerful energy and provide a pristine setting in which to enjoy an exquisite sunrise or sunset.
7. Fountain Valley Trail
Another beautifully unique spot filled with awe-inspiring geological wonders is Roxborough State Park just 45 minutes from Denver. The Fountain Valley Trail is an easy 2.3-mile loop that features towering slabs of red rocks and sweeping vista views. (Note: Dogs are NOT allowed at this state park, so leave Fido at home.)
8. Mt. Galbraith Loop
This lovely lollipop loop just 25 minutes from Denver is roughly 5 miles round-trip and affords fantastic vistas of Golden Gate Canyon, Clear Creek Canyon, Golden, and the massive Coors Brewery. I suggest starting at the Cedar Gulch Trail which skirts the side of Mount Galbraith then intersects with the loop and makes for an especially magical sunrise hike.
9. Mount Falcon Trails
Mount Falcon Park is riddled with trails, and you can combine a few of them to make a 3.7-mile loop that hits all the scenic highlights. Take the Tower Trail to the Meadow Trail North and on to the Castle Trail for marvelous views of Mount Evans, Denver, Red Rocks, the Front Range, and the Walker Castle Ruins.
10. Eldorado Canyon State Park Trails
This natural oasis is tucked away in the wilds just 45 minutes from Denver and provides four trail choices ranging from 1 to 7 miles round-trip. The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail (seen here) boasts views of the Continental Divide and ruins of the Crags Hotel that burned down in 1912. (Also check out the Streamside Trail, Fowler Trail, and Eldorado Canyon Trail.)
Eldorado Springs Canyon is utterly spectacular!
11. Gregory Canyon Trail to Green Mountain
This strenuous summit hike just outside of Boulder is a fantastic trail for those of you who long to stand on top of a mountain and breathe in the surrounding scenery, without the requirement of any special skills. Almost anyone can conquer this challenging but doable hike, which climbs to the summit of Green Mountain at 8,100 feet and affords panoramic vistas of the Flatirons, the Front Range, and Chautauqua Park.