view across st marys lake near denver to snowcapped mountains and glacier

November Hikes

Where are the best places to hike near Denver in November?

November hiking on the Front Range of Colorado can be cold and snowy or 70 degrees and sunny. It can feel like the continuation of Fall or the depths of winter. And so much depend on where you want to hike. Travel an hour West into the mountains, and it's like you've been transported into a different country--because you have. So, you can see the answer to "Where do I hike this weekend?" in November depends a lot on location and the weather forecast.

Because of this, I think in terms of hike purpose: A) Just Enjoying the Outdoors or B) Adventure. If your goal is to hike alongside a friend and enjoy the beauty of Colorado, or get the dog out for a long walk, then you're probably staying within about 45 minutes of Denver. If you're looking for some adventure, you're driving further and stepping into a whole different and sometimes higher risk landscape. In the rest of this post, I'll recommend a series of trails in both categories.

Just Enjoying the Outdoors

In November, there are three go-to places I'd recommend hiking that are closer in to the Denver metro area and have a lot of options.

  • Hikes in Staunton State Park:

  • Less than an hour from Denver, this newest of our State Parks has miles upon miles of sunny trails. If you want sun and a great hike with your dog, Staunton is a great go-to. The Staunton Ranch Trail runs right through the middle of the park through ponderosa pines and with great views of Staunton Rocks to the North. Our kids loved hiking the loop hike to Davis Ponds. And for those of you looking for a longer more demanding hike, check out our hike profile for Elk Falls overlook. A CO State Parks pass is required. See the hike profiles above for details.

    morning light on flatirons mountains near boulder taken from ncar on bear canyon loop hike
    Flatirons at the entrance of Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado

  • Hikes in Chautauqua Park in Boulder:

  • I love hiking Chautauqua Park because it's right down in the city of Boulder and the park provides access to all kinds of hiking options. Like Staunton, dogs are allowed in most areas of the park. You can grab good coffee or lunch after an early morning hike, or enjoy a sunset at places like Realization Point. My favorite is the hike up to the alcove behind the First and Second Flatiron. The trail to Royal Arch is a local favorite. If you are looking for something less demanding, consider Shanahan Ridge or the Enchanted Mesa Loop. There are a labyrinth of trails, so you can always just grab a map and explore. Remember, the sun goes down early and fast behind the mountains, so plan out your return. When hiking during these winter months, I always pack the 10 Essentials, my down coat, and have my headlamp in the top of my pack. Sign up for our Trail Dispatch email and get a download of our recommended packing list, trail meals ideas, and more hike recommendations.

  • St. Mary's Glacier Trail:

  • St. Mary's Glacier is a favorite destination year round. The photo at the top of this post is of St. Mary's Lake and you can see the glacier, complete with ski trail marks, on the glacier just above the lake. It's just a 1.7 mile round-trip hike, but don't let the short distance deceive you. You're back in the high country of Colorado and weather conditions can change super fast. So, be prepared. Get to the trailhead early on the weekends, and by early, I mean before 7AM, and have cash for the parking fee. See our St. Mary's Glacier trail profile for more details.

    meadows and ponderosa pine along mesa trail in the south mesa area of the flatirons south of boulder colorado with the flatirons in the background
    Along the Mesa Trail South of Boulder, Colorado

  • Just South of Boulder:

  • I love the Marshal Mesa area on the South end of the Flatirons. The Marshall Mesa trail runs along the base of the flatirons below Bear Peak and offers some beautiful scenery without the demand of steep grades. The parking area is along the same road that leads into Eldorado Canyon, which is another wonderful place to visit this time of year. The trails in the Canyon because of the topography are going to have snow and mud patches, so bring your trekking poles or pack some traction devices for your backpack. See our Eldorado Canyon hikes page for several trails to explore.

    The Walker Ranch Loop, or just the top end of it at Eldorado Falls, is a great option for hiking with the dog and friends. The loop is longer and more demanding, but a wonderful way to spend the day with a companion just talking and taking in the beauty of Colorado. North from the Marshall Mesa Traihead along 93 is the Flatirons Vista Trailhead. We have profiled a 1.9-mile and 3.3 mile set of loop hikes that give you the grand views of the Flatirons on these broad rolling meadows of this area North of Denver.

    A CO State Parks pass is required for Eldorado Canyon and there are access fees at the Marshall Mesa and Flatirons Vista Trailheads. See the hike profiles above for details.

More Adventurous Hikes

If you are looking for a more demanding workout and possibly some peak-top views or destination hikes, then here are a few trails I'd recommend for this time of year. Before taking off into the woods though, be sure to review our 10 Winter Hiking tips. Safety and smarts are always important--they are critical during these Winter months however because of the cold and the unpredictable weather.

views from carpenter peak in roxborough state park colorado granti boulders evergreen trees on mountains and blue skies with cirrus clouds moderate hike near denver
View from the peak of Carpenter Peak

  • Carpenter Peak in Roxborough State Park:

    This is a great 6.2 mile, out-and-back trail South of Littleton, Colorado. I like this trail because you get views to the West of the Front Range, and you get to look down on the beauty of Roxborough State Park and it's gigantic fins of red rock. The only drawback is that dogs are not allowed in the park.

  • Windy Peak in Golden Gate Canyon State Park:

  • You can bring your dog on this one. The hike up to Windy Peak is a 6.4 mile loop hike to views out to the snow-capped peaks in the West. There are lot of other hike options in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, so check out our trails page for the park for more ideas.

    Hiker on summit of bear peak near boulder colorado
    Hiker at the top of Bear Peak

  • South Boulder and Bear Peaks:

  • These two hikes are more demanding and can be made into a 9-mile loop hike where you bag both peaks on the same hike. Bear Peak has a little knife edge that requires a few moments of hand-over-hand, and the summit of South Boulder Peak requires a bit of scrambling, but most of the hike is moderate. Bring plenty of water as you'll need it.

    ouzel falls waterfall in background with cascades in foreground in rocky mountain national park
    Ouzel Falls in the Wild Basin of RMNP

  • Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • This shoulder season can be a perfect time to visit RMNP because the crowds have subsided. Be ready for muddy trails and snow, but on those sunny warm weekends, the Wild Basin and Bear Lake areas will be quiet escapes from the city. I'd recommend giving the RMNP ranger offices a call to get a feel for the weather or checking out the RMNP Trail Conditions page Traction devices and trekking poles will make your hike in these winter conditions way more enjoyable. I'd recommend checking Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls in the Wild Basin area. The trailhead changes in winter months for the Wild Basin, so be sure to add the additional mileage to your hike because you'll be starting from the Winter Trailhead. In the Bear Lake and Moraine Park area, I'd recommend Fern Falls, an easier hike to Alberta Falls or Emerald Lake, and the more demanding hike up to The Loch.

boulder falls waterfall near boulder colorado pouring through canyon into creek below with grey rock cliffs

Waterfall Hikes in November

The best time of year to explore the waterfalls near Denver is during the early Summer months of May, June, and July. However, the waterfalls wills surge over sheets of ice during those warm days following a good snow. It's going to be pretty hit or miss, but if you are looking for a waterfall hike near Denver during these early winter months, I'd recommend a few.

  • Boulder Falls:

  • Right off of the road, so really no hike at all. This is a great year-round waterfall just 50 minutes North of Denver. Pictured above.

  • Elk Falls:

  • A longer hike in Staunton State Park to the tallest waterfall near Denver.

  • Alberta Falls:

  • A short 1.6 mile hike from Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.


lost lake near nederland colorado with indian peaks mountains in background

Lost Lake Hike Near Nederland

Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of the trail, the creeksides, and the small meadows that open up along the trail. In the winter months, the trail up to Lost Lake makes for a good snowshoeing route and cross-country trail. trail (though it's a bit steep on the way up

While we categorize Lost Lake as a family-friendly hike and a great trail to take in the changing colors of Fall, it's important to know that the hike is uphill and demanding up to its destination. Explore the full Lost Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Trail Snapshot: Lost Lake Trail near Nederland, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Lost Lake Hike

Parking is very limited at the Hessie Trailhead, so be sure to take some time to review these details before departing for your hike. Because the Hessie trailhead is one of the most popular in the state, Boulder County offers a shuttle that runs from Nederland every 15-20 minutes on weekends during the Summer months and on some holidays. For full details on the Hessie Trailhead Shuttle, please see the Boulder County page for the shuttle service. This shuttle departs from the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland.

Directions to Hessie Trailhead

At the roundabout in Nederland, Colorado, drive south onto CO-119/South Bridge St. Take a right onto Eldora Road which will take you to Elodora Colorado. The road continues through Eldora, and changes to Eldorado Road. It proceeds out of town and changes its name to Hessie Road. About 3/4 of a mile outside of Eldora, the road will split, 4th of July Road goes to the right, and Hessie will turn to the left. The 2WD Hessie Trailhead Parking area is at this split. Do not park alongside the road, as you will likely be fined. If the parking area is full, then go back to Nederland for the shuttle (weekends and holidays). There is parking for 4WD vehicles further up the dirt road and closer to the beginning of the official trail. It's important to know that rains can quickly flood this segment of Hessie Road.

The Hike: Lost Lake Trail

If taking the shuttle, it will drop you off at the 2WD parking area. From here, hikers will follow a trail for that runs along the north side of the 4WD dirt road. The trail runs past a small pond and will keep to the right-side of the 4WD Hessie Trailhead road until it arrives at the official trailhead. Keep your eyes peeled for Moose who frequent these waterlogged meadows along this lowland segment of the trail. At approximately 1/2 mile from the shuttle drop, a sign marks the site of the old mining town of Hessie, Colorado.

old four wheel drive road and trail with sign marking former town site of Hessie Colorado

Soon, the trail will cross the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek via a footbridge and a large sign will map and describe the several trails and destinations that can be accessed from this point. Hikers will continue on this old mining road as it leads uphill towards both Lost Lake and the intersection for the trails that lead to Devil's Thumb Lake, Jasper Lake, Woodland Lake, King Lake, and Bob and Betty Lakes. This trail profile will describe the route to Lost Lake only.

The next 1.2 miles climbs by way of switchbacks over rocky and steep terrain. Wildflowers pepper the trailsides and the riparian zone along Middle Boulder Creek. At the first trail intersection (Devils Thumb and Devils Thumb Bypass Trails), a sign will mark the way to Lost Lake and give distances and point the direction to the other destinations. Here the trail to Lost Lake will go left and cross another footbridge. Soon, a waterfall and set of cascades will come into view. The trail will make its way to a second intersection and sign. Here, the trail for Lost Lake departs, once again, to the left.

waterfall through rocks of middle boulder creek near lost lake in indian peaks wilderness

From this point, Lost Lake is just 1/2 mile away. It's a steep segment but worth the views when you arrive. At Lost Lake, hikers can explore the outside circuit of its shores (this will add both time and distance to the hike). Return via the same trails.

blue rippled lake with evergreens and mountains with blue and clouded sky at lost lake indian peaks wilderness colorado

Related Hikes

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Lost Lake Trail

  • TIP: Parking is very limited at the trailhead, so try to arrive before 7am. Review trailhead information above for seasonal weekend and holiday shuttle from Nederland.
  • CAMPING: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks Alliance page for details.
  • USFS Indian Peaks: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks USFS Page page for details.
  • TIP: The trail is rocky so it would be a good idea to bring trekking poles.
  • Trail Map for Lost Lake Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Tim and Brad Fagan and Eric Frazier for sharing photographs of this hike on Lost Lake.
  • After the Hike: Sundance Cafe, Nederland

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herman gulch hike near idaho springs header

Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike

The Herman Gulch Trail is one of the best summer wildflower hikes near Denver. It's also a challenging winter snowshoe and is often used for cross-country skiing. The Herman Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile (one-way), out-and-back adventure into snowcapped mountain country and provides access to many more trails in Arapaho National Forest. Explore the full Herman Gulch hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Herman Gulch Hike, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Herman Gulch

The Herman Gulch Trailhead is located about 20 miles west of Idaho Springs via I-70. From Denver, it's about a 60-minute drive but can take around 1.5 hours in winter ski traffic. The trailhead is located right off Exit 218 by taking a right onto Watrous Way. There are restrooms available at the trailhead. As with all trailheads, but especially those right off the interstate, be sure that your valuables are out of site and locked up. The trail is located in the middle of the parking area, just to the left of the restroom.

herman gulch hike trail

The Hike: Herman Gulch to Herman Lake

From the parking lot, the initial trail segment is steep. But be encouraged, while it's not an easy hike, the trail becomes more gradual as it gains elevation into the widening valley of Herman Gulch. At the trail intersection early in the hike, the trail to Herman Gulch will bear to the left, and a trail that leads to Waterous Gulch will lead to the right. Staying on the Herman Gulch Trail, it will weave in and out of the trees into small meadows with Herman Creek and many meltwater rivulets cascading across the landscape.

Winter may not release its grip on Herman Gulch until mid-summer. For example, all the photos in this trail profile were taken during the first week of June, so prepare for the snow to get increasingly deeper as you progress further on the trail. For this reason, we recommend trekking poles and traction devices for your boots. Also, be aware that at this elevation, thunderstorms often come up quickly on Summer afternoons, bringing dangerous lightning, especially in the open areas of the higher elevations. For this reason, and in order to avoid crowds, it's wise to begin your hike early in the day.

herman gulch hike near idaho springs winter trail

The trail eventually emerges from the trees into a broad alpine landscape where a series of rock cairns leads the way to Herman Lake. This final segment is steep and demanding. The lake is located in a wide bowl beneath the lofty reaches of Pettingell Peak. The lake may be snow-covered through much of June, depending on late-season snowfall. In the early and mid-summer, a series of small meltwater cascades make their way down along the western mountainside into the lake. Be sure to stay the trail as you will be in a fragile alpine ecosystem.

Hiking Herman Gulch in the Winter

Herman Gulch is also a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination. December to March offer the best snowpack for these activities. It's a very different experience when snow has piled up in Herman Gulch and it's even more critical that those venturing into this area have packed their 10 essentials and are dressed appropriately. There are two avalanche chutes on the right-hand side of the trail about 1 mile into the hike that hikers should keep in mind (see ORIC winter map). During this season, do not go above treeline into the higher reaches as these are very much prone to avalanches. It's also important to bear in mind that snowstorms can come up very quickly, even in Spring and Fall, reducing and even eliminating visibility. So be aware and be prepared. Snowshoeing travel speeds are about 1 mile per hour, depending on the person, which is half of hiking speeds. Adjust your travel times accordingly and for early darkness of winter.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Herman Gulch Hike

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red rock tower in snow at roxborough state park in colorado best winter hikes near denver

Top 10 Winter Hikes

Winter hikes near Denver often lead up snow-covered trails with the blue skies that seem to stretch on to forever. The trails we've chosen for this set of top 10 winter hikes keep you close to Denver, are easy or moderately demanding, and explore a variety of landscapes. Because Winter weather in Colorado is both breathtaking and unpredictable, it's critical that hikers embark on their adventures well-prepared. So, before you lace up your boots and hit the trail, be sure to download and review our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes. Additionally, take some time to review our 10 Winter Hiking Tips.

    Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

  • Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

  • Distance: 1.5-Mile Round Trip & 4-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes

    Spruce Mountain near Larkspur is a tall butte that can be hiked via both an out-and-back trail, and a loop option that traces the outer rim. Both of these offer panoramas of rolling green hills and some of the best views of Pikes Peak in Douglas County.

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    Elk Meadow Park – South Loop Hike

  • Elk Meadow Park – South Loop Hike

  • Distance: 2.6 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 35 Minutes

    Elk Meadow Park is a family friendly place to hike just outside of beautiful Evergreen, Colorado. This short loop hike takes you through some beautiful winter landscapes, by huge ponderosa pines, and a chance to see the elk that gather and browse in the valley.

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    Hikes at Red Rocks Park

  • Hikes at Red Rocks Park

  • Distance: 6 Miles Round Trip and 1.4-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 to 30 Minutes

    Red Rocks Park can be hiked on two different trails. Wander through the meadows of the Red Rocks Trail for more expansive views of this unique area, or take the Trading Post trail through a valley of impressive Red Rock formations. You can't beat the proximity to Denver at this historic landmark just west of the city.

    Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

  • Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

  • Distance: 2.3-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes

    This winter hike is just a short drive from Denver and will offer you views from one of Denver's most famous foothill mountains. From up on Mt. Falcon, you can take in Colorado’s snow-flanked Front Range, and views of Denver stretched out below.

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    South Valley Park Trails

  • South Valley Park Trails

  • Distance: 0.5 mile to 3 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    The South Valley Park is another great choice for hiking during winter in South Denver. The valley is located near the Ken Caryl neighborhood, tucked away behind the hogbacks and enclosed by red rock formations. When the snow falls, the surrounding sounds of the city soften and this valley transforms into a walk back in time.

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    cherry creek flowing through winter landscape of castlewood canyon winter hike near denver

  • Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails

  • Distance: 1/4 Mile to 4 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes

    Castlewood Canyon State Park is hidden away in the plains near Castle Rock and Parker. Because it's out east and off the beaten path, it's an often overlooks. When it snows, the canyon becomes a great place to look for animal tracks and to take in the sounds of snow-covered Cherry Creek as it trickles alongside the path. The trails feature: a waterfall, stream, homestead ruins, caves and clefts. Explore the different trails we've profiled in Castlewood Canyon State Park:

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    Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 3.6 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

    This hike is a classic! And you're likely going to need snowshoes for this one. You'll weave past three lakes to a jaw-dropping view of frozen Emerald Lake and Hallet Peak. The best place to rent snowshoes is at the Estes Park Mountain Shop.

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    red rock formation in snow at roxborough state park colorado winter hike

  • Hikes in Roxborough State Park

  • Distance: 2.3 to 6.2 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    The contrast of massive red rock formations against the soft, white snow makes winter hikes in Roxborough feel like a walk through a enchanted wonderland. Check out the list of Roxborough State Park Trails we've profiled below. Take note that State Park fee is required and that pets are prohibited in the park.

    Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Distance: 4.9-Mile Lollipop Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 Minutes

    Mt. Galbraith near Golden, Colorado has spectacular views into two canyons and into the city of Golden. The trail is about a 25-minute drive from Denver, and it makes for a quick escape from the busyness of urban life to breathe in the fresh air of the foothills. This trail is another great hike for winter and is perfect for avid hikers but still accessible to beginners. It's gotten quite popular, so we suggest you hike this trail early in the morning or on a weekday.

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    Dream Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Dream Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Distance: 2.2 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

With scenery straight out of a storybook, the hike to Dream Lake is one of the best known hikes in RMNP. Because it gets a lot of foot traffic, the path from Bear Lake to Dream Lake is packed down and easily discernible, but be sure to check with a ranger at Bear Lake before making this short hike, because after even a moderate snowfall, you may need snowshoes. We recommend renting snowshoes at the Estes Park Mountain Shop.

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Photo Credits: Thanks goes out to Adam Meek for his winter photo of Roxborough State Park. And to Jack for his photo of Castlewood Canyon.


dream lake at sunrise in rocky mountain national park with mountain face of hallett peak in background

Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Dream Lake is one of the popular destination hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park--and for good reason. In the early morning hours, Dream Lake is a vision straight out of a fairy tale. This 2.2-mile, out-and-back hike begins at the Bear Lake trailhead, and passes Nymph Lake along the way. Explore the full Dream Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and all the details you need to enjoy this Colorado adventure.

Trail Snapshot: Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Dream Lake:

The trail up to Dream Lake begins at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions).In the event that parking lot at Bear Lake is full, you'll then need to park at the Park & Ride near the Bierstadt Trailhead and take the bus into the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link. The trail to Dream Lake is located on your way to Bear Lake, off to the left, just before reaching the shore viewing area of Bear Lake.

The trail to Dream Lake is paved for the first half mile. The path was surfaced to deal with the erosion caused by the heavy foot traffic, and is not considered handicap accessible. After visiting the lily pad-laden Nymph Lake, the trail becomes a dirt path and begins a gentle climb towards Dream Lake. For a short stint the trail becomes more steep and demanding. On the way up, hikers will gain views of a vast landscape featuring the Keyboard of the Winds in Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak looming over everything but the distant sky.

Just before reaching Dream Lake, the trail splits. The trail to the left takes hikers to Lake Haiyaha and the trail to the right leads to Dream Lake. Dream Lake, with the beautiful backdrop of Hallet Peak, is one of the most photographed scenes in Rocky Mountain National Park. At daybreak, light from the east illuminates the stone face and crags of Hallet, and Dream Lake returns the favor by mirroring its image in her waters.

List and Links of Destinations From Bear Lake to Emerald Lake

  1. Bear Lake
  2. Nymph Lake - @ .5 miles
  3. Dream Lake - @ 1.1 miles
  4. Emerald Lake -@ 1.8 miles

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Dream Lake:

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trading post trail at red rocks with green park below and blue skies with cumulus clouds at red rocks park near denver hike

Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

Ready for a hike around Colorado's Red Rocks Park and famous amphitheater? The Trading Post trail at Red Rocks takes you around 10 of the park's giant red rock formations. It's a short, 1.4-mile loop hike just 25 minutes from downtown Denver. Check out our full hiking trail profile below for all the details.

Trail Snapshot: Trading Post Loop Trail

If you are looking for a family adventure that's quick to get to, this hiking trail at Red Rocks is a great option. The Trading Post trail weaves through some of Colorado's most majestic red rock formations, into meadows, and great views of Red Rocks park. Because the trail is narrow and has some steep areas, keep a good eye on the kiddos.

We hiked the Trading Post Trail on a sunny Saturday in February with our children, ages 7 and 4. They loved it, but were definitely tired at the end. However, after we finished the 1.4 mile loop, it was their idea to hike up to the amphitheater, then all the way to the top.

red-rocks-hike-trading-post-trail-midway

We started at the trading post, and hiked the loop counter-clockwise. I'd recommend hiking it this way because it gives you the move favorable views, and offers a bit of shade about 3/4 of the way through the hike--right when you need it the most. The sand and grave on the rock surface of the trail can cause your feet to slip, but as long as you are aware and take your time, it makes for a perfect leisurely hike.

You can bring your dog on this hike, however we haven't added this trail to our list of best trails for hiking with your dog near Denver because the trail can be narrow and can be high traffic. So, if you are bringing fido, we recommend going early in the morning, or take the Red Rocks trail, which is more open and has fewer people on it.

I get a lot of emails from people who are only in Denver for a few days, limited when it comes to their transportation, and want to experience the outdoors. This is the hike I send them to. Why?

  • The Trading Post is gorgeous year round.
  • Red Rocks is super close to Denver, and while it's still expensive, you could take a Lyft or Uber there from downtown. Get a group of friends to share the cost and you're golden.
  • Elevation is less of an issue for out-of-towners, and it's a relatively easy hike. It's short, but long still long enough to get a workout.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks :

  • Sunscreen: There's not much shade on this hike, so bring the sunscreen
  • Rattlesnakes: There are rattlesnakes in Red Rocks, as there are in many parks along the front range. Like us, they love to sunbathe, but on rocks and other warm areas. Don't let their presence deter you from enjoying this hike, but keep an eye out for the varmints.
  • Climbing: Rock Climbing is Prohibited at Red Rocks
  • View of Denver: After your hike around the Trading Post loop, walk up into the Red Rocks Amphitheater. It's worth climbing all the stairs to the top for a great view of Denver.
  • Hours: The hiking trails at Red Rocks open one hour before sunrise and close one hour after sunset
  • After the Hike: Ice Cream @ The Blue Cow
  • Trail Map for Red Rocks Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions

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hikers in snow covered landscape with distant landscape winter hikes near denver

Winter Hikes Near Denver

Are you ready for the winter hiking near Denver? Much of Colorado is winter wonderland from November to April, that’s why we are the best skiing destination in the world–well, we think so. I think we are also the best winter hiking destination in the world. We have over 140 hikes on Dayhikes Near Denver, but not all are as easily hiked in the winter season, so we've identified about 20 different great winter hiking trails that are easier to access and great for families looking for winter hikes.

Our Criteria for Choosing The Best Winter Hiking Trails Near Denver

  • These trails are generally easy to get to. Snow and weather can make the drive to the trailhead an adventure in and of itself, so I tried to identify hikes that were more accessible.
  • Most of these hiking trails have areas where you are a bit more protected from the wind. I avoided hikes like the Flatirons Vista near Boulder because, while easy to access, you're exposed to the wind the entire time.
  • Beginners and families should be able to hike these together.

Hike Smart this Winter

An easy hike can turn into a difficult one when weather comes in so be sure to hike smart this winter.

  • Always pack the 10 Essentials. If you need a packing list, then be sure to download our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes.
  • Before you head out on the trail, review our 10 Winter Hiking Tips to get you prepared for this season.

Explore Our 20+ Winter Hikes Near Denver Colorado

alberta falls waterfall in granite canyon with cascades in foreground in rocky mountain national park

Alberta Falls Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is full of waterfalls and this hike takes you to one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park. Alberta Falls is one of the most popular, short destination hikes in the park, and for good reason. If you only have time for one short hike on the East Side of RMNP, this is a ...
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rock formation with pine trees at alderfer 3 sisters park in evergreen colorado

Alderfer and Three Sisters Park

This park in Evergreen, Colorado is a family favorite of some of our good friends. They have two young daughters and love to hike Alderfer and Three Sisters. The park has so many trails that the network can get confusing, so download the Alderfer trail map or pick one up at the trailhead. Scroll down for more information on this ...
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Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear Park

Lair o' the Bear is, in our family's opinion, the best family hike near Denver. First, the drive into the canyon on Bear Creek road is beautiful. Once at the park you'll find great hiking trail options, the cool water of bear creek, great parking, and some good picnic spots. There are open areas as well as shade. Our one ...
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Bear Lake Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

From Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (just 2 hours from Denver), you can launch out on dozens of hiking adventures, trails that range from less than a mile to full day treks back into Glacier Gorge or Andrews Creek. If you are visiting Colorado and looking for a high variety of trails or just a good place to ...
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Canyon Loop Trail - Betasso Preserve, Boulder

Canyon Loop Trail – Betasso Preserve, Boulder

This hike at Betasso Preserve near Boulder, Colorado makes for a perfect evening escape to watch the sunset over the town below. You'll cross through meadows dotted with wildflowers then under stands of Ponderosa pine that eventually open up to views to east. Explore the hiking trail profiles and map link below for details. Trail Snapshot: Canyon Loop Trail at ...
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Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon

Castlewood Canyon cuts a unique and green landscape into the plains near Denver. It's not the mountains, but it's worth the drive. Castlewood Canyon State Park has created this beautiful paved trail that follows the canyon rim. The Canyon Rim Trail also offers an audio tour and is a great way for children to learn more about the plains habitat ...
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Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails

Because Castlewood Canyon State Park is hidden in the plains--and not the mountains--near Denver, it's often an overlooked State park of Colorado. But, whether you're hiking or rock climbing it's a beautiful and geologically unusual place to explore. It boasts a waterfall, homestead ruins, a stream, caves and clefts, and a lot of fairly easy hikes. Below you'll find more ...
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Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

Want a hike to please everyone?The Clear Creek Trail in Golden, Colorado is it! It's got shade, the kids can bring their bikes, and you can finish your hike with a stroll around downtown. We might get some flack for calling this a hike, because it runs through the business district of Golden, CO.But you can wear the soles of ...
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Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Dream Lake is one of the popular destination hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park--and for good reason. In the early morning hours, Dream Lake is a vision straight out of a fairy tale. This 2.2-mile, out-and-back hike begins at the Bear Lake trailhead, and passes Nymph Lake along the way. Explore the full Dream Lake hike profile ...
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Elk Meadow Park – South Loop

Elk Meadow Park is a great place to hike with your family, if you have little ones, or if you just want to talk with a friend as you hike and take in great views of Colorado. It is important to know that the adjacent off-leash dog park has been closed. Get all the info you need to hike Elk ...
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Emerald Lake Hike Rocky Mountain National Park

Emerald Lake is one of the most accessible hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you are visiting RMNP, and have limited time to visit, the trail to Emerald Lake is an excellent option. You'll pass both Dream Lake and Nymph lake before you end your hike at Emerald Lake and it's stunning views of Hallet Peak. For more information ...
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Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park

The Fountain Valley trail in Colorado's Roxborough State Park is the Garden of the God's of Denver. It's more secluded than Red Rocks park, and features several trails that take you beyond the park boundaries and into the foothills. The Fountain Valley Trail is a perfect place to start because it features the best part of the park, it's towering ...
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Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike

The Herman Gulch Trail is one of the best summer wildflower hikes near Denver. It's also a challenging winter snowshoe and is often used for cross-country skiing. The Herman Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile (one-way), out-and-back adventure into snowcapped mountain country and provides access to many more trails in Arapaho National Forest. Explore the full Herman Gulch hike profile ...
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Lost Lake Hike Near Nederland

Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of ...
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Meyer Ranch Open Space Hikes

Meyer Ranch is just 30 minutes outside of Denver, Colorado and offers three different hiking trail options, ranging from 2.4 to 4.8 mile, easy to moderate hikes. Check out the three different hiking trail options for this hike near Conifer, Colorado. Trail Snapshot: Meyer Ranch Open Space Hikes Hike Distance 2.4 to 4.8 miles Round Trip Difficulty Easy to Moderate ...
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Mount Falcon View from Castle

Mount Falcon – Castle & Tower Hike

A hike to castle ruins in Colorado? Yep. Throw in a lookout tower, great view of Denver, of Red Rocks, and of the mountains, and you've got some of the highlights of the Mount Falcon Trail. The trailhead is nestled in a community in the foothills just about 40 minutes from Denver. Here we detail a 2.3 mile loop trail ...
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view of wide dirt trail at mount sanitas in boulder looking south to green mountain in boulder colorado ponderosa pine in foreground

Mt. Sanitas Hike Near Boulder

If you are visiting Boulder, this is a great Colorado hike. Mt. Sanitas gives you several trail options ranging from an easy stroll along a meandering brook to a demanding trail up the mountainside. Explore the trail profile below for all the info you need on this hike near Boulder. Trail Snapshot: Mt. Sanitas Hike in Boulder Hike Distance 3.1 ...
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November Hikes

Where are the best places to hike near Denver in November? November hiking on the Front Range of Colorado can be cold and snowy or 70 degrees and sunny. It can feel like the continuation of Fall or the depths of winter. And so much depend on where you want to hike. Travel an hour West into the mountains, and ...
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Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park in Boulder

Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park in Boulder

A giant underground sandstone formation runs from Ft. Collins all the way through Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Here at Red Rocks Trail in Boulder, the rock juts out of the ground to transform the landscape. It makes for an inspiring short hike. Explore the hike snapshot and detailed trail profile below to get a feel for this ...
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South Valley Park Trails

The trails of South Valley Park are perfect for an after work hike or run in South Denver. The expansive valley near the neighborhood of Ken Caryl is enclosed on its eastern side by the exposed red rock formations of the hogback and the green foothills to the west. Views to the south are incredible, making South Valley Park especially ...
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Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

These hikes along Spruce Mountain near Larkspur, Colorado offer both expansive vista of Colorado's rolling green hills and a unique view of Pikes Peak. Spruce Mountain is a tall butte just 45 minutes south of Denver. This hiking trail follows the outer edge of the mountain giving you a great 360 degree view of the area. Check out the entire ...
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Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

Ready for a hike around Colorado's Red Rocks Park and famous amphitheater? The Trading Post trail at Red Rocks takes you around 10 of the park's giant red rock formations. It's a short, 1.4-mile loop hike just 25 minutes from downtown Denver. Check out our full hiking trail profile below for all the details. Trail Snapshot: Trading Post Loop Trail ...
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Waterfall Hike in Castlewood Canyon State Park, Colorado

Waterfall Hike at Castlewood Canyon

This may be the most accessible waterfall near Denver. If you hit the right parking lot, it's a 10 minute hike.So, grab a park brochure and find the Northernmost trailhead for the Creek Bottom Trail (Homestead Trailhead). This will add close to 1 mile to your hike. Then you can loop back via the Cherry Creek Trail for a total ...
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Willow Creek Trail at Roxborough State Park

Entering Roxborough State Park is like walking into another world. The red rock and wildlife--and if you are lucky--the low lying cloud cover, conspire to make for a great escape just south of Denver. The Willow Creek trail makes for a short hike in Roxborough is a perfect way to begin exploring the park. Scroll down to get all the ...
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Map of Best Winter Hikes Near Denver Colorado


Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park in Boulder

A giant underground sandstone formation runs from Ft. Collins all the way through Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Here at Red Rocks Trail in Boulder, the rock juts out of the ground to transform the landscape. It makes for an inspiring short hike. Explore the hike snapshot and detailed trail profile below to get a feel for this great hike near Boulder.

Trail Snapshot: Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park

The trails of Red Rocks at Settlers Park in Boulder interconnect to form more of a labyrinth than a straightforward hike. But there is a way around all that---literally. Pull up the Boulder Open Space & Parks Map and follow the outer perimeter trail to form an approximately 1 mile loop around the sandstone red rock formations that jut out of the ground in the center of the park.
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You can add an additional .8 mile to your hike by taking the Anemone trail to the west, rising another 400ft where it tops out on a hill to give you views of the City of Boulder, the Red Rocks Park, and the Colorado Front Range. Even with the Anemone trail spur, it's a short hike, so you might want to add one of the Mt. Sanitas hiking trail options to your adventure. The Mt. Sanitas trail is just North of the Centennial Trailhead.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park :

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view of wide dirt trail at mount sanitas in boulder looking south to green mountain in boulder colorado ponderosa pine in foreground

Mt. Sanitas Hike Near Boulder

If you are visiting Boulder, this is a great Colorado hike. Mt. Sanitas gives you several trail options ranging from an easy stroll along a meandering brook to a demanding trail up the mountainside. Explore the trail profile below for all the info you need on this hike near Boulder.

Trail Snapshot: Mt. Sanitas Hike in Boulder

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Mt. Sanitasoffers three different hike options, ranging from the more difficult climb up the mountain, to an easy walk through a peaceful valley. Sanitas is Latin for "health", and this hike may either get you in better shape (the 3.1 mile loop), or restore your sanity (the easier options). If you are visiting Boulder, this is a great Colorado hike.

3 Hike Options at Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado

1 - The Mt. Sanitas Loop - 3.1 Mile Loop - Medium+

mt sanitas loop labeled
This is the classic hike at Boulder's Mt. Sanitas, and it's the most difficult of the three hike options because it involves a series of log and rock steps that will leave your quads and knees either thanking your for the workout or aching for a couple days afterwards. Because of this, we would give it a Medium+ difficulty rating. The prize of this Front Range Hike are the views at the top. You'll be able to look down into Boulder and get some great views of Colorado's Front Range.

2 - Mt. Sanitas Valley Hike - 2 Mile Out-and-Back - Easy

Mt. Sanitas Valley Hike Near Boulder

Here's the easiest option; 1 mile straight up the valley and back. The two words that best describe the Sanitas Valley trail: idyllic and busy. Dogs run about and jump in the creek that runs along the beginning of the path, runners fly by, and families talk and stroll together. The trail rises gently at first, then goes into more of an incline. We took our stroller; it worked fine, but was tough pushing the kids up the last 1/4 mile uphill. We turned around just after the Dakota Ridge Trail junction, making it a 2 mile out-and-back hike.

3 - Dakota Ridge Trail at Mt. Sanitas - 2 Mile Loop - Easy to Medium

Mt. Sanitas Dakota Ridge Route
You'll find side trails running East/West off of the Sanitas Valley trail which will take you up onto the Dakota ridge, a hogback that boxes in the Sanitas Valley. You can make this an out-and-back hike, or turn it into a loop by hiking back through the valley (see photo above and the Mt. Sanitas Trail Map for the route).

Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Sanitas in Boulder:

  • Parking: This is kind of a no-brainer, but get to the trailhead early. I think we arrived around 8am on a Saturday and grabbed the last parking spot. However, we noticed that many people were walking to the trailhead from town, so there are other parking options.
  • No Shade: Bring your sunscreen; the trail is mostly exposed.
  • Lots of People: If you are looking for solitude, I'd recommend trying another hike. The Mt. Sanitas trail is essentially in Boulder, and its great location means that it's quite busy.
  • Trail Map for Mt. Sanitas Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Ozo Coffee

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Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

These hikes along Spruce Mountain near Larkspur, Colorado offer both expansive vista of Colorado's rolling green hills and a unique view of Pikes Peak. Spruce Mountain is a tall butte just 45 minutes south of Denver. This hiking trail follows the outer edge of the mountain giving you a great 360 degree view of the area. Check out the entire hike profile below to get acquainted with Spruce Mountain before you hike it. You'll find links to trail maps, driving directions, and all the details you'll need to strike out on this Colorado trail.

Trail Snapshot: Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

Spruce Mountain offers breathtaking views of Pikes Peak, Eagle Mountain, and the rolling hills of Greenland and Larkspur. Most trails close to Denver are pretty exposed to the sun, so we were pleasantly surprised with how much shade the trees provided along the trails. Still, bring sunscreen because the South side of Spruce Mountain is a bit more exposed.

We rated this as medium in difficulty because of the first segment, which climbs about 400' in the space of about a quarter mile. After that that trail is relatively level. So, we'd put this on the easy side of medium. Because of that, this makes a great family hike close to Denver. But we'd highly recommend getting on the trail by 9am on the weekends (see the tips below).

Two Options for the Spruce Mountain Hike:

1 - 1.5+ Mile Hike to the Greenland Overlook - (out and back) Take a left where the trail forks and head up to the overlook (about 3/4 mile). This is a great first option if you have children with you. The views of Pikes Peak may be the best in Douglas County, and you can see how the family is doing and decide whether or not you want to continue on the loop hike.

spruce mountain hikes near larkspur eagle mountain view north

2 - 4+ Mile Spruce Mountain Loop Trail - Continue west on the trail making a loop around the top of Spruce Mountain. You'll encounter fantastic views of Eagle Mountain, and the Windy Point overlook. Just a quick note that the service road may look like a shortcut back to the trailhead, but it's not. It is an option though if you would like to hike the open meadows between Eagle and Spruce mountains.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

Tips & Resources for Hiking Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur :

  • Speed Trap? We haven't seen the lurking cop car, but their are all the makings of a good old speed trap in Larkspur. So, take it easy. Our guess is that when the Renaissance festival is in full swing that traffic will really back up. The first reason to go early, and to probably allow more than 45 minutes for the drive.
  • The Spruce Mountain Trailhead Parking Fills Fast: There is a lot of parking, but the lot was full by 11am on a Saturday. Second reason to go early.
  • Great For Fido: There were more dogs on this trail than we've seen on any other, probably because most of the hike is pretty level and shaded. However, it makes for a bit of a traffic jam at times. Third reason to go early.
  • Great Hike For Visiting Friends and Family: This hike has a lot of bang for the buck, and once you are up the first mile it's smooth sailing. It would be a great place to take out of towners who may be looking for a less demanding hike.
  • Trail Map for Spruce Mountain Open Space: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Charito’s House

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