When deciding where to hike in Colorado, you will soon realize you’re spoilt for choice. This beautiful state boasts hundreds of mountain ranges and a wealth of trails just waiting to be explored.
With breathtaking beauty around every corner, you can’t go wrong with making this your next hiking destination.
And luckily, the Colorado hiking trails have you more than covered. With more fourteener hikes (a trek that takes you to a peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet) than any other state, you’ll find yourself in hikers paradise.
But what makes Colorado such a great hiker’s destination is its diversity. This Colorado hiking guide will include a few different hikes to suit every fitness level and preference.
So start packing and get excited about your next trip to this special place.
Best Hiking Trails in Colorado for Beginners
Colorado possesses some truly unmatched landscapes and nature. And with millions of acres of wilderness to explore, it’s hard to know where to start.
For many, hiking seems like some far-off extreme sport that requires you to sleep in a tent on a frost-covered mountain. This is thankfully not the case.
Hiking is for almost everyone and is a truly good-for-the-soul way to spend your weekend.
It’s also a wonderful way to socialize and bring people together for some outdoor fun.
Below, you’ll find some of the best beginner hikes to try. They will allow you to enjoy all the natural wonders that Colorado has to offer without totally exhausting yourself. But they still get your body moving.
So switch off and get out into nature, you won’t be sorry you did!
The Fountain Valley Trail, Roxborough State Park
This beautiful park is an excellent place to take your friends or family for a day of fun in the great outdoors. With a range of trails suited for every level, you can easily take your pick.
And with the exciting possibility of spotting some wildlife, this is a must-see for anyone visiting Denver.
The topography of this area is truly a sight to behold. With the orange rocks protruding out of the slopes, it makes for a truly remarkable natural composition.
The Fountain Valley Trail that cuts through the park is not particularly long, but it is well worth the trip.
An added bonus to this spot is that this trail is paved, which makes it accessible for wheelchair users and those with strollers. Between sweeping views, magnificent rock faces, and the occasional bear sighting, this is a spot to put on any Colorado list.
Rim Rock Trail and Creek Trail Loop at Castlewood Canyon State Park
If it’s a family hike day out you’re in search of then look no further. This is the perfect place to bring everyone, including the kiddies. Even your furry family members are allowed in this dog-friendly park.
The tracks and trails here are suited to every age and ability. Kids (or adults) can enjoy splashing around in the creek, climbing over rocks and boulders, or running around.
Bring all your favorite snacks and enjoy a delicious picnic together at one of the many picnic tables here.
Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
It’s no secret that these mountains have some of the best hiking in Colorado.
Head to this glorious spot from Bear Lake Trailhead, and on the way there, you’ll pass two other lakes to admire as well. You’ll also get to enjoy beautiful mountains and lots of wildlife.
The hike allows for many breaks and picture opportunities so bring those cameras. Also, make sure to bring lots of water as facilities are not common in the area.
This 3.5-mile loop hike is a popular spot, so definitely try to visit in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Even if you don’t make it all the way to Emerald Lake, Bear Lake and Dream Lake are great scenic stops along the way. You can take your favorite book and read it by the water for the perfect relaxing afternoon.
Hiking in Colorado: Best Trails and Hikes for Intermediate Hikers
Colorado has an incredibly beautiful and diverse terrain. And sometimes all one needs to shake up that fitness rut is to get their heart pumping with a hike in some beautiful surroundings.
These are some of the best moderate hikes you can look forward to trying. They are guaranteed to get that heart rate up and a good burn going.
Garden of The Gods Trails
Boasting a totally different type of landscape, this gorgeous hike is a must-see when in Colorado.
It’s the perfect option to get active while enjoying a day out in nature with family and friends. And your regular sneakers will do the job, as many paths have been paved.
Here you will have many trails to choose from while enjoying a variety of beautiful sights. This really is one of the best scenic hikes in Colorado.
You can spend time marveling at the impressive rock formations in the park, walk among the towering rocks, or climb up and admire the sunset from a spectacular viewpoint.
This hiking spot caters to various abilities, with paths marked to show trails of various difficulties.
And for anyone with an interest in climbing, it’s an excellent place to learn as a beginner. As well as for those intermediate climbers to find a good climbing challenge.
Blue Lakes Trail
Located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in the beautiful town of Telluride, this is a very popular hiker’s choice. The Blue Lakes Trail is jaw-droppingly beautiful and a decent challenge for any adventure seeker.
Around 9 miles in total, Telluride is one of the best places to hike in Colorado. And what’s more, this hike will put your fitness to the test for sure.
This beautiful hike will certainly have you feeling the burn, with some seriously steep bits. So get ready to fire up those glutes. But the breathtaking beauty of the 3 alpine lakes will make every bit of struggle worthwhile.
If you find yourself in the Boulder area and you’re looking for some outdoor adventure and beautiful scenery, then definitely check out these unique mountain ranges.
Marked by five slablike peaks rising above the forest, the landscape of these mountains can only be described as iconic.
This spot is great for all fitness levels, and there are several loop options ranging from 2.6 to 3 miles in total. The trails are plentiful and allow for your pups to join too. And going on a weekday is definitely best if you want to avoid the masses.
Whether you choose to make this your trail running training grounds, or your weekend outing with family and friends, you won’t be disappointed.
And at the right time of the year, it becomes a real winter wonderland. During these times, however, snowshoes or spikes are necessary.
It should be noted that if peace and quiet is your thing, then you may not find it here. However, if you want beautiful views of Sunshine Canyon, Boulder, Denver, and very cool mountains, then this rather touristy spot is for you. And a stunning one at that!
Best Day Hikes in Colorado – Harder Trails for Experienced Hikers!
If you feel that the hikes thus far would not prove enough of a challenge for you, then these should get you excited.
And with so much to offer in terms of landscape and natural beauty, longer day hikes (between 4 and 8 hours) may be an excellent way to pack in a day of adventure.
Get ready for majestic mountains, glassy alpine lakes, and jagged, towering rock faces. Along with breathtaking views of course, and even potential wildlife sightings.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best Colorado day hikes.
This is a great day trip and is considered one of the best fourteeners to start out with if you are a beginner.
However, the popularity of this hike makes it a very tourist-heavy destination where you’ll likely be contending with crowds all year round.
Be aware that the last mile is nothing but steep incline and large rocks with a fair bit of scrambling to the summit. But the view will be worth every bit of panting and sweating.
It’s advised to tackle this hike on a weekday in order to avoid the weekend crowds. And if you’re lucky, you may spot a mountain goat or two.
Square Top Mountain From Guanella Pass
Moving onto Bierstadt’s next-door neighbor, we have the beautiful Square Top Mountain.
Many locals opt for thirteeners like this one because it’s often far less crowded. So if it’s solitude and quiet you’re after, then this is a good option to go for.
In the Mount Evans Wilderness off of Guanella Pass, Square Top Mountain shares a parking area with the popular fourteener, Bierstadt. This hike will drop down considerably into a basin of beautiful streams and rolling hills.
On an early morning trip, you’ll likely spot some animal friends like mountain goats, pikas, and marmots, who all call this area home. You will also get to admire the beautiful Square Top Lake.
On this hike, you will come across four false summits – keep pushing onwards, and you’ll know you’re at the summit when you cross a little saddle.
And for an added special touch, you can look out for a little jar nestled in a rock pile. This is a cute tradition where you sign your name and leave a message for fellow hikers to enjoy later.
Longs Peak – Keyhole Route
There are several peaks that challenge even the fittest and most seasoned climbers. Longs Peak is one of the most challenging mountains to hike in Colorado with an infamously elusive summit.
Located within Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s one of the most attempted of the fourteeners in Colorado. Longs Peak lures climbers from all over the world to attempt the rocky, dangerous ascent.
It’s safe to say you will need to bring your mental and physical A-game for this one.
When attempting to climb a fourteener like Longs Peak, make sure you have the right gear and that you don’t pack anything unnecessary that will weigh you down.
And of course, plenty of water and sunscreen are essentials too. Be sure to check the weather conditions beforehand, as ice and snow are not uncommon here even in the warmer seasons.
This one is certainly not for the fainthearted and only advisable to tackle if you are an experienced hiker. But making it up will seriously top your list of hiking feats and place you in a very small successful minority.
This breathtaking adventure is also only for the brave and experienced hikers out there. And it’s essential to have some climbing experience before taking this one on.
What makes this trek so difficult is the ascent which is marked by dramatic inclines and many loose rocks.
There’s also very little opportunity for breaks with many long stretches of uphill climbing. It will certainly be a monumental accomplishment for any hiking enthusiasts.
Be sure to set out early and watch out for any unpredictable weather changes that may force you to turn back. The view from the summit will amaze you and certainly be one for the books.
Now that we’ve covered all the trails, you can check their location in the map below.
Final Words on Colorado Hiking Trails
It’s clear by now that the Colorado wilderness has a hike or a trail for everyone. And in today’s fast-paced world, a breath of fresh air has never been more necessary.
Now, what better way is there to get one than with a beautiful hike. In fact, it may be just what the doctor ordered.
Whether you are a seasoned mountaineer looking to scale a snow-covered peak in some rugged terrain. Or you’re simply looking to get out and take a leisurely stroll in some beautiful scenery – Colorado is the place for you.
And of course, if you fall somewhere in between, you can count on this place to challenge you just enough while wowing you with its magnificent beauty.
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