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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

Meyer Ranch Open Space offers 3 great hiking options only 30 minutes from Denver. They range from easy to moderate in difficulty and 2.4 to 4.8 miles in length. Meyer Ranch has expansive meadows and patches of wildflowers, grazing deer & elk, and trails that take you to overlooks.

1. Lodgepole Loop: 2.4 miles - Easy - Take the Owl's Perch Trail South and continue straight (left) down the trail, at the next junction go right and continue on the Lodgepole loop for 1.2 miles until you arrive back at the Owl's Perch trail and take (left ) that back to the parking lot.

2. Sunny Aspen Trail Loop: 3 Miles - Moderate - Take the Owl's Perch Trail South and continue straight (left) down the trail, at the next junction go right and continue on the Lodgepole loop, go .6 miles and take a right onto the Sunny Aspen Trail, continue on the Sunny Aspen Trail for .8 miles until it joins again with the Lodgepole Loop (go right), follow this back to the Owl's Perch trail and back to the parking lot.

3. Old Ski Run Trail 4.8 Miles - Moderate - Take the Owl's Perch Trail South and continue straight (left) down the trail, at the next junction go left again for .2 mile until you find your next junction, go left onto the Sunny Aspen Trail taking that for .5 mile until you reach the junction with the Old Ski Run Trail. The Ski Run trail is an out & back trail with a loop at the end. The Ski Run section is 2 miles out and back (including loop). Return the way you came via the Sunny Aspen Trail.

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

Tips & Resources for Hiking Meyer Ranch Open Space Hikes :

  • Picnic areas: There are picnic areas close to the trailhead as you go along Owl's Perch Trail.
  • TIP: Initially you will hear noise from the road below. This will fade as you hike further into the park.
  • Trail Map for Meyer Ranch Open Space: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Aspen Perk Cafe

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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 that hits all the destinations.

Trail Snapshot: Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

Mt. Falcon Loop Hike

Mount Falcon features several trails. By combining a few, you can create a 2.3 mile loop and take in several historic sites as well as breathtaking views of Denver, Red Rocks, and the Front Range. This is makes it one of the best hikes close to Denver for visiting friends and family. Because it is an easy hike and has a relatively flat and wide trail, you can take the jogging stroller on this one, too. If you are looking for more great trails for your family, be sure to check out our Kid Friendly Trails Near Denver and our recommended Colorado Hikes for Visiting Friends and Family pages. If hiking with kids, be sure to access it via the West Trailhead as described in this post. Map apps and other sites may take you to the very demanding east trailhead, which is very exposed to the sun and has heavy mountain bike traffic.
Denver View From Mount Falcon

The Loop Trail Sequence:Start at the parking lot off of Mt. Falcon Road, and when you come to a fork in the trail, take the Tower Trail to your right. Soon you'll pass the Eagle Eye Shelter which offers great views towards Mount Evans and the surrounding foothills. Stay on the Tower Trail until you get to the Fire Tower which commands a panoramic view of Denver, Red Rocks, and more of the Front Range of Colorado.

Then continue on the Tower Trail until it intersects with the Meadow Trail. Take the Meadow Trail North/Left for about .3 miles. It will end at the Castle Trail - take a left. The Castle Trail will lead you back to the parking lot, but don't head back until you stop at the ruins of the old Walker Home. The views from here are beautiful as well.

hiking near sundown with dog and baby at mount falcon hike near denver

Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Falcon:

elk meadow park south loop header

Elk Meadow Park - South Loop

lk 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 Meadow Park in Evergreen by exploring the full trail profile below.

Trail Snapshot: Elk Meadow Park - South Loop

Elk Meadow Park has just over 13 miles of hiking trails near Denver that wind through it's lower meadows, through ponderosa forest, and two more strenuous options that lead to the summit of Bergen Peak. This profiles a 2.6 mile loop that begins at the south parking area. To form the loop, combine the Meadow View Trail, Elk Ridge Trail, and the Sleepy "S" trail. Use the Elk Meadow Park map at this link. We chose this route because we have 2 children under 3 years old, and it was a good choice - just long enough, trails close to Denver, and lots of change of scenery during a short hike.

There had been an off-leash dog area just on the other side of the street from the south parking lot (not visible on this older google map, so you'll have to trust us that it's there). This was a great place to allow dogs to roam and play, but this has been closed due to excessive dog waste and damage to vegetation. Here is a link to the Jefferson County info page on the off-leash area. Dogs are required to be leashed in all other areas of the park.

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

Tips & Resources for Hiking Elk Meadow Park - South Loop :

  • TIP: The Easy way. Take the loop clockwise for the easier route and counter-clockwise if you are looking for a more strenuous (but not much) hike.
  • Parking: Park only in designated areas. There has been a lot of erosion damaged caused by visitors parking alongside the road. If parking is full, please find another park to visit.
  • TIP: Enjoy some time in Evergreen. The town of Evergreen is a great place to retreat to during the summer. It's a few degrees cooler, Bear Creek runs through town, and you'll find some great places to eat.
  • Trail Map for Elk Meadow Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Beau Jo’s Pizza

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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 Betasso Preserve

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Canyon Loop at Betasso Preserve :

  • Easier Approach: Make your hike at Betasso Preserve a bit easier by starting from the East Trailhead
  • Mountain Bikers: Each month the direction of travel required for Mountain Bikers is switched. Check the sign at the trailhead. Additionally, biking is not allowed on Wed. & Sat.
  • Hikers: Check the sign at the trailhead as well and try to hike the opposite direction of the bike traffic.
  • Trail Map for Betasso Preserve: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Ozo Coffee in Boulder

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


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 great choice. To get to Alberta Falls, park at at the Bear Lake Trailhead (see google directions below), then follow the signs south for Glacier Gorge and Alberta Falls. The waterfall is .8 miles down the trail from the parking area, make this a 1.6 mile out-and-back hike. Start early and hike the full 2.8 miles of trail in to stunning Mills lake inside Glacier Gorge.
Trail Snapshot: Alberta Falls

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Alberta Falls

  • Visitors and Vacationers: Alberta Falls is a great place to take visiting family and friends because it's not too difficult, and you have a lot of options if you want to explore the park
  • Bring a Lunch: Getting this far into the park, even just driving, is quite a trip from the outside world. We suggest packing a lunch so that you can stay longer. And food just tastes better outside anyway.
  • Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map
  • Rocky Mountain National Park Maps: Maps Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Poppy's Pizza

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.

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bear lake with mountains of glacier gorge in background along bear lake hike in rocky mountain national park

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 start your vacation, this is one of the best places in the state. For details on the trail, see the hiking trail profile below, and download the trail map to get an idea of the different hikes that begin at Bear Lake.

Trail Snapshot: Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear lake is the epicenter of Rocky Mountain National Park. This means that you can access a ton of trails from here, but it also means a lot of traffic. So, we always recommend getting there early, on weekdays, and to go during the off-season - if you can. The Bear Lake Trail is a short 0.6 mile loop around a beautiful lake with views of the Rocky Mountains. The hike is considered handicap accessible; however, the trail is not paved.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Bear Lake In Rocky Mountain National Park :

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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 that covers much of Colorado. Explore this full trail profile for driving directions, trail map, and all the details and tips you'll need to plan your trip to this Colorado State Park.

Trail Snapshot: Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon

One of the best handicap accessible trails near Denver, the Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon State Park is a 1.2 mile interpretive trail. It runs along the western edge of the top of the canyon and weaves through ponderosa pine and a wonderful variety of wildflowers. The entire trail is a concrete walkway, making the area very accessible to wheelchairs. The trail ends at the Bridge Canyon overlook. Don't miss the view, it's wonderful.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon

  • TIP: Pick up a brochure so that you can find the various access points for the trail and can take advantage of the side trails.
  • Audio Tour: Begin at the visitor's center where you can pick up an audio tour player which guides you through the 5 different ecosystems that are found in Castlewood Canyon.
  • Wildflowers: Late June and Early July are the best times to view the wildflowers in Castlewood Canyon.
  • Bring Sunscren: Hikes in Castlewood Canyon can be quite exposed to the sun, so bring the sunscreen.
  • TIP: Poison Ivy: We've been surprised how poison ivy flourishes in this park, often along the edge of the trail. Know how to identify it, so that you can avoid it. But don't let that deter you from the park. You just need to keep an eye out. See our post on how to identify and treat poison ivy.
  • Trail Map for Castlewood Canyon: Trail Map Link
  • Additional Maps: Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Crowfoot Valley Coffee

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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 of about 2 miles.

Trail Snapshot: Waterfall Hike at Castlewood Canyon

Tips & Resources for Hiking to the Castlewood Canyon Waterfall

  • Easy to Miss: The West Side entrance can be hard to find. Usually, Colorado state parks have brown signs indicating the park roads. The west side doesn't. But the name of the road you're looking for is "Castlewood Canyon" - easy to remember.
  • Shortest Access: The shortest way to access the falls is by parking at the Waterfall Parking Lot, then taking the Waterfall Spur to the Creek Bottom Trail. Head South, and you'll hear the waterfall in just a few moments.
  • Exposed: Hikes in Castlewood Canyon can be quite exposed to the sun, so bring the sunscreen
  • Poison Ivy: We've been surprised how poison ivy flourishes in this park, often along the edge of the trail. Know how to identify it, so that you can avoid it. But don't let that deter you from the park. You just need to keep an eye out. See our post on how to identify and treat poison ivy.
  • Trail Map for Castlewood Canyon State Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Crowfoot Valley Coffee

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

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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 your shoes down on this one. Jefferson County even has plans to expand the trail several miles into Clear Creek Canyon. Explore the full trail profile for all the details: hiking trails, trail map, and detailed directions to the trailhead.

Trail Snapshot:Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

When you have small children, some mornings can be harder than others to get through the foothills and into the mountains. This trail is made for those mornings. We like to park downtown, grab coffee at the Windy Saddle, then stroll down the trail. A local training school is often seen near the Washington Street Bridge doing water rescue training. It's highly entertaining and a great opportunity. Visiting family and friends will find this trail accessible, easy, and refreshing.

aaron johnson author of dayhikes near denver with daughter in backpack flyfishing on bear creek at Lair o the Bear Park near morrison colorado

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 big suggestion is to keep your kiddos close to you on the busier trail segments as this is also a mountain biking mecca. Explore the details below in our profile of this Jefferson County, Colorado park.

Trail Snapshot: Bear Creek Trail at Lair O' the Bear

Lair O'the Bear is fantastic for families because this hike has lot of shade, a mostly level path, the sounds and sights of water, and a few great areas for picnics in this Colorado park. On top of all of that, it's one of the most accessible Denver trails just out of town in the foothills. Within Lair O the Bear park, the Bear Creek Trail follows the creek for 1.6 miles of trail. Approximately 1 mile of the trail runs West from the parking area, and .6 of a mile to the East. But that is just within the park boundaries; the actual trail continues following the creek in both directions, so you can explore even more of this beautiful canyon and riparian landscape. You can also fish Bear Creek in Lair O the Bear. I've not had any luck yet, so I'd appreciate any tips in the comment section below.

lair-of-the-bear-fishing

Tips & Resources for Hiking at Lair o' the Bear :

  • Bikes: There are some hiker only trail segments, but most are open to mountain bikes - and there are A LOT of them, especially on the weekends. So, just hike aware and let your kids know that bikes may be zipping by.
  • Picnic: Take a picnic lunch or dinner. There are some great picnic areas along the river at Lair o' the Bear.
  • Birding: This is a great place to teach your kids (or yourself) some tree and bird identification. The riparian ecosystem is pretty diverse at Lair o' the Bear.
  • Lair o’ the Bear Park Trail Map: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Ice Cream @ The Blue Cow

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man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver