Colorado, renowned for its majestic Rocky Mountains, offers a plethora of hiking trails that extend beyond its national parks. From alpine lakes to red rock canyons, join us on a journey through the Centennial State's 20 most popular hiking trails, where breathtaking vistas, wildflower meadows, and rugged terrains await every adventurer.
1. Hanging Lake Trail
One of Colorado's most iconic trails, Hanging Lake Trail, takes hikers through a narrow, lush canyon to the breathtaking Hanging Lake. Surrounded by towering cliffs and waterfalls, this short yet challenging hike showcases the state's natural beauty and is a must-visit destination.
2. Maroon Bells - Crater Lake Trail
Nestled in the Elk Mountains, the Maroon Bells - Crater Lake Trail offers postcard-perfect views of the iconic Maroon Bells. Hikers traverse through alpine meadows, arriving at the crystal-clear Crater Lake, with the towering Maroon Bells reflecting in its waters, creating a scene of unparalleled beauty.
3. Flatirons - Royal Arch Trail
Within Boulder's iconic Flatirons, the Royal Arch Trail provides a thrilling ascent to the striking Royal Arch formation. Hikers navigate steep switchbacks and sandstone steps, reaching the arch for panoramic views of Boulder and the surrounding Front Range.
4. Garden of the Gods - Siamese Twins Trail
In the heart of Colorado Springs, the Siamese Twins Trail in Garden of the Gods leads hikers to unique rock formations with natural windows framing the stunning Pikes Peak. This family-friendly trail combines geological wonders with breathtaking vistas of the red rock landscape.
5. Mount Falcon Park - Castle Trail
The Castle Trail at Mount Falcon Park offers a diverse hiking experience, from meandering through meadows to reaching the historic castle ruins. With views of the Denver skyline and the Front Range, this trail combines history, nature, and panoramic scenery.
6. Bear Creek Lake Park - Coyote Song Trail
For a peaceful lakeside hike, the Coyote Song Trail at Bear Creek Lake Park is a hidden gem. Hikers stroll along the shores of Bear Creek Reservoir, enjoying views of the water and the Front Range, making this an accessible and scenic escape.
7. Chautauqua Park - Flatirons Loop Trail
Starting from Chautauqua Park in Boulder, the Flatirons Loop Trail showcases the iconic Flatirons formations. Hikers traverse through meadows and ponderosa pine forests, reaching viewpoints that reveal the grandeur of the Flatirons against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
8. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge - Lake Mary Trail
Within the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, the Lake Mary Trail offers a tranquil escape just outside Denver. Hikers explore diverse ecosystems, spotting wildlife along the way, and reach the serene shores of Lake Mary for a peaceful nature retreat.
9. St. Mary's Glacier Trail
For a high-altitude adventure, the St. Mary's Glacier Trail leads hikers to a stunning glacial lake surrounded by towering peaks. The hike offers a unique experience, combining alpine scenery with the opportunity to witness a year-round glacier in the Rockies.
10. Eldorado Canyon State Park - Eldorado Canyon Trail
Eldorado Canyon State Park's Eldorado Canyon Trail meanders along South Boulder Creek, providing a scenic hike through towering sandstone cliffs. Hikers enjoy views of the canyon's rock formations, and during the fall, witness a vibrant display of autumn colors.
11. Roxborough State Park - Fountain Valley Trail
Roxborough State Park's Fountain Valley Trail offers a journey through red rock formations, meadows, and towering ponderosa pines. This loop trail provides panoramic views of the Fountain Formation and the dramatic red rock landscape that defines this unique Colorado park.
12. Devil's Head Fire Lookout Trail
For a hike with a rewarding vista, the Devil's Head Fire Lookout Trail leads to an iconic fire lookout tower. Hikers ascend through a pine forest, reaching the summit for breathtaking views of the Pike National Forest and the distant Colorado plains.
13. Herman Gulch Trail
Nestled in the Arapaho National Forest, the Herman Gulch Trail takes hikers through alpine meadows adorned with wildflowers. The trail leads to Herman Lake, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, offering a picturesque setting for a high-altitude hike.
14. Red Rocks Park - Trading Post Trail
Red Rocks Park's Trading Post Trail allows hikers to explore the iconic amphitheater's surroundings. The trail winds through unique rock formations and offers stunning views of Denver, providing an opportunity to experience the magic of Red Rocks in a different light.
15. Castlewood Canyon State Park - Canyon View Nature Trail
Castlewood Canyon State Park's Canyon View Nature Trail offers a family-friendly hike with scenic views of the park's dramatic cliffs and rock formations. Hikers traverse along Cherry Creek, enjoying the serenity of the canyon environment.
16. Grays and Torreys Peak Trail
For those seeking a high-altitude challenge, the Grays and Torreys Peak Trail takes hikers to two fourteeners. The trail offers stunning views of alpine meadows, rocky slopes, and the surrounding peaks, providing a quintessential Colorado mountain experience.
17. Chasm Lake Trail
Nestled beneath the towering Longs Peak, the Chasm Lake Trail offers a challenging trek to a stunning glacial lake. Hikers traverse through alpine terrain, passing by mountain streams and wildflower-filled meadows, with the reward of breathtaking views of the Diamond Face.
18. Mount Sanitas Trail
Starting from Boulder, the Mount Sanitas Trail provides a steep but rewarding ascent to the summit. Hikers enjoy panoramic views of the Front Range, Boulder, and the surrounding foothills, making this trail a local favorite for a quick yet invigorating workout.
19. Rifle Falls State Park - Coyote Trail
In Rifle Falls State Park, the Coyote Trail leads hikers to the base of stunning triple waterfalls. Surrounded by lush vegetation and limestone caves, this easygoing trail is a family-friendly adventure showcasing the beauty of western Colorado.
20. Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Warner Point Nature Trail
Exploring the less-visited North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Warner Point Nature Trail offers sweeping views of the canyon. Hikers meander through pinyon-juniper forests, reaching Warner Point for a unique perspective of the rugged canyon walls.
Colorado's hiking trails beyond national parks reveal the state's diverse beauty, from alpine peaks to red rock canyons. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a family seeking scenic strolls, the Centennial State's trails offer an array of experiences. Lace up your hiking boots, breathe in the mountain air, and embark on an adventure through the stunning landscapes of Colorado.