Denver October 06, 2017
9 Short And Sweet Hikes Near Denver With A Spectacular End View
It’s prime time to get out and explore the radiant gold, orange, and red leaves in all their splendor here in Colorado. What better way to take in the spectacular fall foliage, than by lacing up your hiking boots and getting to one of many nearby trails that will lead you to breathtaking views. We are a little spoiled here in Colorado with an array of beautiful hiking options, so I’ve narrowed it down to shorter hikes (five miles or under) that are located within 90 miles of Denver. These hikes are guaranteed to not only give you a little exercise, but also let you fully experience the vibrant colors of fall here in the Denver area.
1. Kenosha Pass Trail
This out and back trail can be tailored to fit your hiking needs (easy to moderately strenuous), as the distance you hike really depends on how far you would like to go! This trailhead is approximately 65 miles Southwest of Denver along US 285. There are east and west trail options with gradual ascents to stunning views. You will discover vantage points after hiking about 1/2 mile along both trails where you can take in the beauty of the high country plains of South Park as well as the Rocky Mountains.
2. Lower Maxwell Falls near Evergreen
Traveling to Evergreen might not be the first thought that crosses your mind when searching for the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows of fall, but you might be surprised what you find when hiking the Lower Maxwell Falls that are located just 50 minutes from Denver. You have three different options that will take you to one of the closest waterfalls to Denver. You can choose a one, three, or four mile hike on this trail filled with a variety of terrain and you will soon discover why the Lower Maxwell Falls has become one of the most popular destination hikes near Denver.
3. Devil's Head Lookout Trail
What better way to see the changing colors of fall than with a 360 degree panoramic perspective that offers views as far as 100 miles away on a clear day. The 2.7 mile Devil's Head Lookout Trail is a classic Colorado front range hike that begins in a glade of tall aspens and ends with 143 red steps that lead to the only operating fire lookout in the state. If you choose to hike this trail you will be rewarded with unbeatable views, but do try to go early as this is a very popular trail.
4. Caribou Ranch Loop in Boulder County
If you are a history buff, the Caribou Ranch Loop is for you! This 4.2 mile long "lollipop loop" trail is a mellow hike filled with golden Aspen views. As you hike, you will be taken on a historic journey where you can tour a renovated homestead — which was used as a professional music studio in the 1970s. Check out the Blue Bird Mine complex that dates back to the 1870s, and meander along a scenic railroad route of the early 1900s.
5. Silver Dollar Lake Trail; Guanella Pass
An easy commute from Denver, this 3.9 mile stretch of trail offers three scenic lakes to view in one fantastic hike. Although you will not be led to a field of Aspens, this high-altitude trek will treat you to a panoramic view of the golden valley that is filled with autumn-colored beauty.
6. Royal Arch Trail at Chatauqua Park in Boulder
This hike is not lengthy (3.4 miles), but you will definitely experience a workout climbing 1,300 feet in elevation as you ascend the slope of Green Mountain to reach the sandstone arch. As you make your way up, take in the fall colors that really pop against the background of the rust-hued flatirons along the way. This is another popular hike, so it is best to start early (before 8:00 a.m.) or try to get up there on a weekday.
7. Racoon Loop at Golden Gate Canyon
This 2.5 mile loop trail in Golden Gate Canyon is a family-friendly gem that leads you through fields and forests filled with pine, spruce, and aspen trees. This easy to moderate hike can be found just 60 minutes from Denver and includes the added bonus of trickling brooks and a panoramic view of the Continental Divide.
8. Georgetown Railroad Hike and Train Ride
This 2.3 mile hike is not your typical fall foliage trek, but instead a short guided hike followed by a ride on a vintage train back to the trail head. Located just 60 minutes from Denver, this hike begins at the historical railroad station and museum in Silver Plume. As you make your way along, the guide will share historical insights and point out artifacts. About half way through the hike, your group will stop and eat lunch (which is provided) in a grove of Aspens. After completing the hike, the fun has just begun as you will be treated to a 30-45 minute train ride back to your car.
9. Bear Creek Trail at Lair O' The Bear Park near Morrison
For those searching for a moderate hike that is easily accessible from Denver, Lair O' The Bear Park is sure to meet your needs! The beautiful Bear Creek Trail is a two mile hike that can be found just 30 minutes from Denver, and provides a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The hike begins along Bear Creek, and then leads you through a beautiful patch of cottonwood trees that glow golden in the fall. A spectacle unfolds just one mile from the parking lot and you may feel as if you have stepped back in time as you view the Dunafon Castle with its authentic drawbridge which crosses the creek. You do have to view this castle from across the bridge, though, as it is private property.
Whether your idea of a fall hike is taking a leisurely stroll while breathing in the crisp autumn air or testing your legs and lungs with something a little more strenuous, these hikes have got you covered. So, take your pick and get ready to be surrounded by the brilliant beauty that awaits you on the trail.
For more fantastic hikes in and around Denver check out
these 12 hikes everyone in Denver should do sooner or later.