Trying to figure out where to hike this Memorial Day weekend? We’ve put together a list of recommended hikes within about an hour of Denver. We’ve also noted a seven to avoid this Memorial Day weekend. Unless you’re backpacking deep in the wilderness, you’re still going to encounter a lot of traffic and people. If you want to avoid all of that, you’ll need to arrive at the trailhead before 7AM. Here’s the criteria we’ve used to select these seven hikes near Denver:
Where To Hike:
We profile 7 hikes recommended for this Memorial Day Weekend. And we list 7 hikes you should avoid.
- Ample Parking: Memorial Day Weekends generate some of the highest traffic to our website each year. So, I’m going to draw the conclusion that the trailheads near Denver experience the same high number of visitors. Vacationers are making their way into Colorado, and graduation events are in full swing. So, while I’d rather direct you first to some wonderful features like waterfalls and peak-top views, getting a parking space is probably priority number one.
- Enjoyable with Friends & Family: Often on holiday weekends, like Memorial Day Weekend, we are out hiking with friends and family. I tried to put together a set of hikes that are not too difficult and open up spaces for conversation.
- Close to Denver: This set of hikes are all within 60 minutes of Denver, Colorado. If you want to explore hikes that are further from town, check out our Hikes Worth the Drive page.
Castlewood Canyon State Park has a lot of hiking options, but some of the best hikes follow the creek along the canyon floor. It’s important to know that parking is limited on the west side of the park, but the parking on the east side near the visitor center accommodates more vehicles. Check out our Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails page for a list of 5 different hike options.
The Clear Creek trail in Golden offers a great opportunity for families with strollers and groups to hike alongside one another. As I mentioned before, with water levels high and currents swift this time of year, be cautious around the water’s edge. See our Clear Creek hike profile page for full details, including directions to several parking areas. It’s not your classic backcountry hike, but it’s a great weekend adventure.
I recommend the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks more than any other hike in the Denver Area. I have three reasons: The hike is beautiful, it’s short, and it’s super close to Denver. There is more than just the trail to explore. Be sure to take in the amphitheater and the cave just north of the amphitheater. You’ll find the cave info on another trail profile for the Red Rocks Trail below. This is a great hike for families with kids and the perfect hike for family who are visiting for the holiday weekend.
Spruce Mountain is one of our favorites. The hike is south of Denver in the middle of a landscape of rolling green meadows and towering buttes. The views of Pikes Peak are incredible. Because it is elevated, you are more exposed to weather rolling in over the foothills. See our full trail profile of Spruce Mountain for directions, map, and hiking tips specific to this hike.
Here’s another trail in Red Rocks Park just outside of Denver. If you are looking for a longer trail with more options, this may be a great choice. It is very exposed to the sun, so remember to wear a hat and sunscreen. This hikes offers great views of the iconic red rocks of Denver, the amphitheater, hogbacks, and foothills.
Waterton Canyon is a popular hike south of Littleton that follows the Platte River for 6.2 miles up to Strontia Springs Dam. Every bend in the broad dirt road beckons you to discover new views just around the corner. No dogs allowed on this one because of the wildlife. I’ve seen golden eagles and bighorns sheep nearly every time I’ve hiked Waterton Canyon. For tips on where to spot the bighorns and for directions, see our full trail profile on Waterton Canyon. Waterton Canyon has experienced closures in 2016, but has been reopened for 7-days a week access beginning 5/15/16. Because of the high river levels, the river access is closed until about mile marker three.
White Ranch is tucked away in the foothills north of Golden and makes for a great afternoon sunset hike or morning sunrise hike. We’ve assembled a set of trails to create a loop that we’ve named the Sunset Loop. See our full trail profile for details a great loop hike at White Ranch.
7 Hikes To Avoid This Memorial Day Weekend
- Devils Head Fire Tower Lookout Hike – With a small parking area and a long drive on a likely washboarded road, I’d say to save this for a weekday this summer.
- Maxwell Falls – This trail is one of the most trafficked on our site and parking is severely limited. With the recent rain, the parking area is likely a mess (I haven’t been up there lately, so just guessing), but the waterfall is probably incredible. If you go, I’d recommend getting there by 7am at the latest. And please pick up trash along the trail as you go, this wonderful hike is getting loved to death by hikers and needs all of our care. Though it is USFS property, county regulations apply for dogs and they must be kept on a leash.
- Hanging Lake – It’s the most popular hike in Colorado. Again, you’ll want to save this for a weekday, and arrive before 7am to get parking.
- Eldorado Canyon State Park – We love Eldorado Canyon, but so does everyone else. Parking is very, very, ver limited, so I’d recommend saving this one for a weekday this summer. Did I mention that parking is very limited?
- Mt. Evans – Mt. Evans and the short summit hike are breathtaking, but the area will be incredibly congested this Memorial Day weekend.
- Echo Lake – Echo Lake, near Mt. Evans, will also be highly congested on a summer holiday weekend like this one.
- Chautauqua Park in Boulder – The hikes at Chautauqua Park i Boulder are amazing, but it draws crowds every weekend from Spring into the Autumn. Even at 7am, the lots will be close to full and folks will be parking along Baseline Road. Driving up Baseline, another popular drive with hikes along the roadside, will likely be heavily congested and unenjoyable.