Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Trail

Silver Dollar Lake Trail graces hikers with not just one, but three lakes! This easy to moderate hike, approximately 3-4 miles, treks up lake by lake. Each successive one along the Silver Dollar Lake Trail perches above the previous, creating multiple platforms from which to view the valley, breathe in the beauty, and take pictures. Situated along the stunning Guanella Pass, the hike first skirts the edge of Naylor Lake, then proceeds onto the shore of Silver Dollar Lake, and finally to uppermost Murray Lake. Wildflowers punctuate the landscape all along the way as the trail exits the forest and walks the slope of the ridge through the basin.

Explore the full Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure on Guanella Pass near Denver.

Trail Snapshot: Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Trail

Silver Dollar Lake trailhead

Silver Dollar Lake trailhead

Parking & Trailhead Information for Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Hike

From Denver, heading west on I-70, exit 228 for Georgetown, CO. Going left under the bridge, Georgetown's Visitor's Center appears immediately on the right. This is an excellent place to rest before or after a hike. Going straight through the traffic circle and turning right onto Rose Street, Guanella Pass begins at the end of the street, curving up and up! Approximately 8.5 miles up the route sits the Guanella Pass Campground on the west. Just past this the parking for Silver Dollar Lake Trail appears on the right-hand side. Parking lots on both sides of the pass accommodate the crowds; passengers vehicles should park here. Skilled drivers in high-clearance and 4WD vehicles may carefully navigate an additional 0.7 mile stretch up Naylor Lake Road to the official trailhead.

Available parking fills fast. If no spots remain, eager hikers can consider driving three miles further up the pass to the Square Top Lakes Trail, where a larger parking area may still have openings. Square Top Lakes Trail also has a restroom, whereas Silver Dollar Lake Trail does not.

Silver Dollar Lake Trail is quite popular in the summer, but remains open all year for an accessible but challenging (when the snowshoeing adventure) in the winter.

The Hike: Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Trail

Beginning at the official trailhead, the hike moves in and out of the shade of thick forest. After a steady, strolling ascent, at the 1/2-mile mark, the trail swings left. A "TRAIL" sign directs hikers toward the ridge used to climb up the valley to Silver Dollar Lake. Near this spot, tracked on the GPS map, a short diversion provides a glimpse of Naylor Lake. Please note that private property surrounds the eastern rim of the lake at the end of Naylor Lake Road.

wildflowers along Silver Dollar Trail

Wildflowers along Silver Dollar Trail

The trail climbs the basin ridge up and out of the forest, offering the first clear view of Naylor Lake down and to the right. Silver Dollar Lake is seated approximately one mile further up the trail, which rides the slope of the basin. Approaching the lake and then curving right, the trail crosses over the mouth of Silver Dollar Lake. Depending on water levels, this crossing can be up 10-15 feet wide. While the water is not deep, wise hikers look for dry, flat, small boulders to navigate across and avoid soggy socks! The trail ascends with moderate steepness up to Murray Lake, less than 1/2-mile away. After meandering about the top of the basin around Murray Lake, the return trail simply follows the route in reverse. As it descends, you will notice even more novel views on each lake, and benefit from the shade of the forest as it brings you back to the trailhead.

Naylor Lake seen from Murray Lake

Naylor Lake as seen from Murray Lake

Tips & Resources for Hiking Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Trail

  • TIP: The parking situation at Silver Dollar Lake Trail often ebbs and flows since the trail does not require as much time as many others. If you get skunked on parking, consider returning in a couple hours when a wave of hikers has come and gone. Georgetown, CO, has a wonderful trail circumnavigating the local lake, as well as a Wildlife Viewing Station for sighting big horns sheep.
  • Trail Map: Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes Hike
  • 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
  • After the Hike: Grab some post-hike nourishment at Cabin Creek Brewing.

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Map & Driving Directions


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Square Top Lakes Trail on Guanella Pass

Square Top Lakes Trail on Guanella Pass

The Square Top Lakes Trail, one of several cresting Guanella Pass above Georgetown, CO, gives hikers a chance to behold sweeping valley vistas and the imposing profile of Mount Bierstadt. Simply driving to the trailhead along Guanella Pass can soothe a weary soul and take its breathe away at the same time! Once on the trail, the expansive pass greets hikers young and old of all skill levels.

Explore the full Square Top Lakes Hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure on Guanella Pass near Denver.

Trail Snapshot: Square Top Lakes Trail

Trail junction for Square Top Lakes Trail

Trail junction for Square Top Lakes Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for Square Top Lakes Hike

From Denver, heading west on I-70, exit 228 for Georgetown, CO. Going left under the bridge, Georgetown's Visitor's Center appears immediately on the right. This is an excellent place to rest before or after a hike. Going straight through the traffic circle and turning right onto Rose Street, Guanella Pass begins at the end of the street, curving up and up! Square Top Lakes Trail, easily accessed directly from the pass in the summer (when the pass opens) means that crowds often swell on weekends. Parking is free, but can present a challenge by mid-morning, especially near the Mount Bierstadt trailhead. The Square Top Lakes parking sits on the west side of the pass. Restrooms are available at the trailhead at the far end of the parking lot.

The Hike: Square Top Lakes Trail

Beginning near the restrooms, the trail immediately jaunts left to reach a junction between the Interpretive Trial and the hiking trail. Turning right and heading down the steps into the valley, hikers encounter the signature Guanella Pass landscape...willows and mud. Thankfully, several years ago, boardwalks were installed to assist in traversing the low-lying areas. While more willows await hikers ahead on the Square Top Lakes trail, a clear pathway enables simple navigation. Still, some may prefer long pants to protect legs from scrapes.

Square Top Lakes trail boardwalk on Guanella Pass

Boardwalks usher hikers onto the valley floor

Soon after, as the trail commences a steady ascent, the sloping ridge provides a view onto Duck Lake to the south. It disappears as quickly as it appears. At approximately 1.5 miles the trail rises over a small ridge. The wind often flows from the valley up through this small dip, and weather can change quickly atop the pass in general, so wise hikers keep an eye on the sky. Barely 1/4-mile later the trail meets, but skirts to the left of, the lower lake. A few paces beyond the lower lake the trail intersects with South Park Trail 600.

lower Square Top Lake

Staying right, the trail presents presents the upper Square Top Lake via a half-mile ascent. Informal trails spread out around the lake. The eastern ridge of the lake puts hikers on seemingly eye-level with Mount Bierstadt, a local favorite 14er. The return hike simply reverses the route, following the trail back down and out of the valley.

vista of Mount Bierstadt from Square Top Lakes Trail

Mount Bierstadt watches over Guanella Pass, lower Square Top Lake in foreground

Tips & Resources for Hiking Square Top Lakes Trail

  • TIP: The Square Top Lakes Trail completely lacks shade. Consider hiking early to mid-morning. If hiking later in the day, pay attention to the weather forecast--it changes quickly on Guanella Pass.
  • Trail Map: Square Top Lakes Hike
  • 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
  • After the Hike: While time may require a direct return trip to Denver, if time permits, many enjoy continuing on over Guanella Pass, following it down to Grant, CO. Turning left onto Highway 285 toward Denver, a late breakfast or early lunch awaits hungry hikers at The Shaggy Sheep. Further up the road, looking to the left, a 55-ft tall statue of Jesus watches over the historic town of Santa Maria, CO.

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Map & Driving Directions


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hiker near loveland pass colorado looking southwest toward snowcapped rocky mountains

Open and Closed Hiking Trails

Here you'll find a list of the nearly 200 hikes on Dayhikes Near Denver with information on what trails and parks are closed and how to get updated information about when they will open. Those without closure information were considered open as of Saturday, May 23rd 2020. However, any of these parks and trails can be closed at any moment by parks departments and local governments. Because of this, verify the trail’s status with the individual park or forest service ranger district before traveling to the trailhead. Additionally, note and follow directions at the trailhead regarding parking, hiking, and distancing.

Currently, Colorado is under a Safer at Home Order until further notice. "Local and personal outdoor recreation" is recognized as a "necessary activity" in the order. See section H in the linked document for the current State recreation protocols, giving attention to the 10-mile rule for outdoor recreation. In short, hike local until guidelines are revisited on May 27th. The Executive Order from the State of Colorado is tentatively set to expire on May 27th. It can be amended or extended at any time, so check for updates at the Colorado Executive Orders site.

It's important to note that while many trailheads are open, some restrooms and most visitor centers are closed. The list below is not exhaustive. It's limited to the 190+ hiking trail profiles posted on Dayhikes Near Denver.

Name of hikeClosuresMileageDifficultyDrive Time from Denver (min)
Adams Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.6 mileEasy135
Agnes Vaille Falls HikePartial Trail Closure Due to Rock Fall.1 mileEasy160
Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates1.6 milesModerate120
Alderfer and Three Sisters Park18 Trails: 0.2 to 10+ MilesEasy40
Andrews Glacier and Tarn in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9.4 to 10 milesDifficult120
Arch Rocks in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates3 milesEasy100
Arthur's Rock in Lory State Park3.4 milesModerate85
Bear Canyon Loop at NCAR3.5 milesEasy40
Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.6 mileEasy120
Bear Peak Near Boulder7.4 milesDifficult40
Beaver Loop in Golden Gate Canyon2.3 milesModerate45
Bergen Peak9.2 milesDifficult35
Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates3.2 to 4.8 milesModerate120
Black Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates10 milesDifficult120
Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates10 milesDifficult120
Blodgett Peak6.4 milesDifficult75
Blue Grouse Trail at Golden Gate Canyon Park1.4 milesModerate60
Bluebird Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates12 milesDifficult90
Bluffs Loop at Bluffs Regional Park2.7 milesEasy30
Booth Creek Falls4 milesModerate100
Boulder FallsReopened on the weekend of June 13th!!!100 yardsEasy50
Brainard Lake CMC Cabin Hike6 milesEasy80
Bridal Veil Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates6.6 milesModerate105
Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs0.25 mile belowEasy45
Buffalo Creek Falls at Wellington LakeClosed for Day Use. Open for Campers with Reservations. See Wellington Lake Page for Updates0.5 mileEasy105
Bulter GulchCounty Road Closure to non-residents was lifted at Noon, May 28, 2020.5 milesModerate60
Calypso Cascades in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates3.6 milesEasy90
Canyon Loop at Betasso Preserve, Boulder3.3 milesModerate50
Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon2.4 milesEasy50
Carpenter Peak in Roxborough State Park6.2 milesModerate45
Cascades Near Berthoud FallsCounty Road Closure to non-residents was lifted at Noon, May 28, 2020.0.1 mileEasy60
Castle Rock Trail1.4 milesModerate35
Catamount Falls Near Colorado Springs2.8 milesModerate90
Cave Trail at Castlewood Canyon0.28 mileDifficult60
Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates4.2 milesModerate120
Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.1 mile, 2.8, or 4.8 milesEasy100
Chicago Lakes Near Mt. Evans8.4 to 10 milesDifficult60
Chief Mountain3 milesModerate60
Chimney Gulch Trail at Windy Saddle Park5 milesDifficult25
Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden1.8 milesEasy30
Cliff & Climber's Trails at Castlewood Canyon0.64 mileDifficult60
Continental Falls Near Breckenridge5 milesModerate100
Copeland Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.6 mileEasy90
Cornet Falls Near Telluride Colorado1/2 mileEasy390
Crags Near Colorado Springs4.5 milesModerate120
Crown Hill Lake Trails1.2 miles+Easy17
Cub Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates6 milesModerate100
Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates4.6 milesModerate100
Daniel's Park Hikes0.2, 3, or 5.4 milesEasy35
Deer Creek Canyon Loop2.7 milesEasy35
Devils Head Fire LookoutCLOSED all 20202.8 milesModerate75
Diamond Lake5.4 milesModerate90
Diamond Lake Falls3.4 milesModerate90
Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates2.2 milesEasy120
East Plum Creek Trail in Castle Rock6 milesEasy35
Echo Lake Near Mt. Evans0.25 mile belowEasy60
Eldorado Canyon State Park Hikes4 Trails: 0.5 mile to 3.5 miles (one way)Moderate45
Eldorado Falls at Walker Ranch2.5 milesModerate60
Elk Falls - New Waterfall Near Denver10.8 milesDifficult45
Elk Meadow Park - South Loop2.6 milesEasy35
Elk Range Trail at Centennial Cone ParkElk Range Trail at Centennial Cone Park, including the interior of the park, is closed from February 1 through mid-June to protect elk during their calving season. All other trails are open.6.6 milesEasy40
Elk Valley in Roxborough State Park4.8 milesModerate45
Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates3.6 milesModerate120
Enchanted Mesa Near Boulder1.8 - 2 milesEasy40
Evergreen Lake1.3 milesEasy40
Falcon Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates15.5 to 16.5 milesDifficult90
Fallen Timbers Loop at Fox Run2 milesEasy75
Fan Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates15.5 milesDifficult90
Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.4 milesModerate100
Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates7.8 milesModerate100
Finch Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9 milesModerate90
Fish Creek Falls Near Steamboat0.5 mileEasy180
Flatirons Vista Loop1.9 or 3.3 milesModerate40
Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8.8 milesModerate120
Forgotten Valley at Golden Gate State Park3 milesModerate60
Forsythe Canyon to Waterfall and Gross Reservoir2+ milesEasy75
Fountain Valley at Roxborough State Park2.3 milesEasy45
Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates6.4 milesModerate120
Central Garden Loop in Garden of the Gods1 milesEasy100
Palmer Trail in Garden of the Gods2.5 milesEasy100
Siamese Twins Trail at Garden of the Gods0.5 milesEasy100
Glendale Farm - Douglas County Open Space1.6 mileEasy35
Grace Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates12+ milesDifficult100
Granite Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates10.2 milesModerate120
Greenland Open Space Near Larkspur1 to 10 milesEasy45
Realization Point via Gregory Canyon5.7 milesModerate40
Hall Ranch2 milesEasy60
Hanging LakeJune 1 reopen with reservations, reservations can be made online2.4 milesDifficult165
Hayes Creek Falls0.1 mileEasy210
Ponderosa Loop at Heil Valley Ranch7.6 milesModerate50
Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs0.1 mile or 8 milesModerate105
Herman Gulch to Herman LakeCounty Road Closure to non-residents was lifted at Noon, May 28, 2020.5 milesModerate60
High Line Canal - County Line to Fly'n B Park3.7 milesEasy30
First and Second Flatirons in Boulder2.6 milesModerate45
Davis Ponds in Staunton State Park2.15 milesEasy45
Green Mountain Near Boulder5.5 milesDifficult40
Pine Valley Ranch Park1.2 to 3.2 milesModerate60
Homestead Trail at Castlewood Canyon2 or 4 milesModerate45
Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.4 mileEasy100
Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon Park3.6 milesModerate50
Horsethief Falls Near Colorado Springs2.8 MilesEasy120
Incline at Castle Rock0.6 mileModerate35
Jasper Lake11 milesDifficult80
Jewel Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates6.4 milesModerate120
Kenosha Pass Hiking Trails1 below to 14.4 milesModerate90
Bear Creek at Lair o' the Bear Park1.7 milesEasy30
Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates4.2 milesModerate120
Lake Helene in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.8 milesModerate120
Lake of Glass WaterfallPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8.4 milesDifficult120
Lakes Loop at Rocky Mountain ArsenalPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates1.7 milesEasy30
Lawn Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates12.4 milesDifficult100
Lion Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates14 milesDifficult90
Long Lake Loop1.5 milesEasy90
Lost Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates15.6 milesDifficult100
Lost Lake Near Nederland4 milesModerate80
Lyric Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8 milesModerate90
Mallory Cave2.8 milesModerate40
Marguerite Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates7.8+ milesModerate100
Maroon BellsMay not open until June 8th, call (970) 945-3319, Shuttles May be delayed1 to 13 milesModerate240
Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen1.6 to 4 milesModerate50
Meadow & Forest Loop Trails at Lookout Mountain Nature Center0.6 & 0.8 mileEasy30
Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon8.4 milesEasy45
Meyer Ranch Open Space2.4 to 4.8 milesModerate30
Meyers Homestead Hike in Walker Ranch5.2 milesEasy60
Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.6 milesModerate120
Mohawk Lakes Near Breckenridge6 or 6.8 milesModerate100
Monarch Lake Loop4 milesEasy170
Moraine Park Loop in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.5 milesEasy90
Mount Falcon - Castle & Tower2.3 milesEasy40
Mt. Bierstadt Trail on Guanella Pass1 to 7 milesDifficult90
Mt. Evans SummitRoad up Mt. Evans is planned to open in July 2020. See See USFS Mt. Evans Page for Updates0.25 mileEasy100
Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail4.9 milesModerate30
Mt. Sanitas Near Boulder3.1 or 2 milesModerate45
North Clear Creek Falls in Colorado0.1 mileEasy300
North Table Mountain Trail Near Golden2.7 to 7.7 milesModerate25
Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates1 mileEasy120
Odessa Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9.8 milesModerate100
O Fallon Park Trails1.3 to 7 milesModerate35
Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.4 milesModerate90
Ouzel Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9.8 milesModerate90
Panorama Point in Corwina Park2.4 milesModerate40
Pear Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates13 milesDifficult90
Petrified Forest Hike at Florissant Fossil BedsTrails open but Visitor Center Parking Area Closed. Use Hornbek/Barksdale Parking Lot.1 mileEasy120
Pole Creek Falls Near Granby2.2 milesEasy110
Raccoon Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park2.5 milesEasy60
Rainbow Falls in Colorado Springs0.2 mileEasy80
Rattlesnake Gulch at Eldorado State Park2.5 to 4 milesModerate45
Red Rock Canyon1 mileEasy75
Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks ParkEntire Park and Amphitheatre Closed until Further Notice. Call 720-865-2494 for updated information.6 milesModerate25
Red Rocks Trail at Settlers Park in Boulder1 mile Loop +.4 mile spurEasy45
Eagles View Loop in Reynolds Park4 milesModerate50
Ribbon Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9.6 milesDifficult120
Ridgeline Open Space1 mileEasy40
Rifle Falls0.2 to 1.5 milesEasy210
Royal Arch Trail - Hike in Boulder3.5 milesDifficult40
Sandbeach Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8.4 milesModerate90
Santa Fe Regional Trail1 mile to 17Easy60
Seven Falls in Colorado Springs0.4 to 3 milesEasy80
Shanahan RIdge Loop4 milesEasy40
Shelf Creek Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9 milesDifficult120
Shelf Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8.5 milesDifficult120
Shelf Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8.5 milesDifficult120
Silver Falls Near Pagosa Springs0.4 mileModerate330
Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9+ milesDifficult120
Soldier Canyon Falls0.2 mileEasy100
Solitude Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9 milesDifficult120
South Boulder Peak7.4 milesDifficulty40
South Rim Loop at Roxborough State Park3 milesModerate45
South Valley Park0.5 mile to 3 milesEasy30
Sprague Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates0.5 mileEasy120
Spruce Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9.6 milesModerate100
Spruce Mountain Near Larkspur1.5 & 4 milesModerate50
St. Mary's Glacier near Idaho SpringsCounty Road Closure to non-residents was lifted at Noon, May 28, 2020.1.5 milesModerate60
St. Vrain Mountain9 milesDifficult100
Tarryall Falls0.4 mileEasy100
The Loch in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates5.5+ milesModerate120
The Pool in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates3.4 milesEasy100
Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates8 milesDifficult120
Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks ParkEntire Park and Amphitheatre Closed until Further Notice. Call 720-865-2494 for updated information.1.4 milesEasy30
Treasure Falls Near Pagosa Springs1 mileEasy285
Trio Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates14.8 milesDifficult90
Undine Falls3.4 milesEasy140
Ute Valley Park Loop2.5 milesEasy75
Waterfall Hike at Castlewood Canyon0.25 mileModerate50
Waterton CanyonClosed Until Further Notice. See See Denver Water's Waterton Canyon Page for Updates6.2 or 12.4 milesModerate35
White Ranch Sunset Loop Near Golden2 milesModerate45
Whitmore Falls Near Lake City0.2 mileEasy360
Willow Creek Trail at Roxborough State Park1.4 milesEasy45
Windy Gulch Cascades in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates1 mileModerate100
Windy Peak at Golden Gate Canyon6.4 MilesModerate50
Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9 milesDifficult100
Ypsilon Lake in Rocky Mountain National ParkPhased Reopening Planned for May 27th. See RMNP Current Conditions for Updates9 milesDifficult100
Zapata Falls0.8 mileEasy240

denver area trail closures red hiking blaze on tree alongside trail

COVID-19 Denver Area Trail Closures

Because our Colorado trails are served by a variety of agencies, Dayhikes Near Denver is not able to update closure information for every trail. The best way to check these closures is directly on the websites of those agencies (listed below). Please adhere to social distancing requirements, local quarantine requirements, and the limitations put in place by the specific agencies listed below. Our collective goal is to protect the most vulnerable and pursue the common good of our communities.


second flatiron in boulder colorado r hoffman us

10 Best Hikes Near Boulder Colorado

Where are the best hiking trails close to Boulder? We've been hiking in and around Boulder, Colorado for years, profiling over 30 different trails. So, we decided to share here our favorite hikes near Boulder. These ten hikes will give you a variety of landscapes and experiences. You'll find dog friendly hikes, hikes to summits, and waterfalls. And we'll update it when a new hike strikes our fancy and pushes one of the others off the list. Explore this page for an overview. But there is more, as each hike has a detailed page with trail maps, driving directions, and photos.

dirt trail leading toward the flatirons of boulder colorado in chautauqua park wooden fence in foreground and broad meadows

  • First and Second Flatirons Hike

  • Distance: 2.6 Miles

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Let's start with my favorite and probably the most classic hike in Boulder, the trail that leads between the 1st and 2nd Flatiorns in Chatauqua Park. The trail takes you across the open meadows of the park, then ascends up the long ridge of the Second Flatiron before passing through the gateway between the two stunning rock spires. The trail curves around to the back side of the First Flatiron where you can scramble up to a natural alcove and take in views of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in the west. The photo at the top of this page with the pink sky is of the 2nd Flatiron. Explore our full trail profile for trail map, driving directions and more photos of the hike.

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    Hiker on summit of bear peak near boulder colorado

  • Bear Peak Summit Hike

  • Distance: 7.4 Miles Round Trip or 8.4 Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Difficult

    Bear Peak is located along the Flatirons range just south of Boulder, Colorado. The South Mesa Trailhead is one of our favorites because of the number and variety of hikes that start here. The hike up to Bear Peak starts out on a gradual ascent up the mesa, then follows the route of Fern Canyon until it breaks out into an open saddle between South Boulder and Bear Peaks. The last bit to the summit is a scramble along a real knife edge to its pointed peak.

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  • Eldorado Canyon State Park Trails

  • Distance: 0.5 to 7 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Eldorado Canyon is like entering another world. The high and narrow canyon walls shut out the distant sounds of the city and South Boulder Creek tumbles over cascades through the middle of the park. It's a rock climbing mecca and quite popular, so you'll need to go early and either pay the daypass fee or have a Colorado State Parks Pass to enter. Hikes in Eldorado Canyon State Park range from easy short jaunts along the creek or more demanding hikes up to the top.

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

  • Boulder Falls

  • Distance: 100 Yards

    Difficulty: Easy

    Just a short drive out of Boulder, you'll find one of the best waterfalls along the Front Range of Colorado. Boulder Falls requires a walk, not a hike, to take in its 70 foot plunge over a cliff face in Boulder Creek Canyon. Parking is roadside on a curving road, so be alert along the road. Climbing is prohibited inthe area around Boulder falls, so stay the trail and take in the beauty of this waterfall.

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    south mesa trail hike with ponderosa pines in foreground and flatirons mountains in background near boulder colorado

  • Mesa Trail: South Segment Hike

  • Distance: 8.4

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    The southern segment of the Mesa Trail is my favorite easy hike near Boulder. The trail starts by crossing South Boulder creek then making its way through meadow grasses onto the expansive mesa, giving you views of the entire Flatirons and down into Eldorado Canyon. The ecosystem here where the foothills meet the prairie is unique, and you'll take this in as the land makes a gentle roller-coaster, dipping into canyon draws and back into wooded areas of ponderosa pine.

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    green meadows along trail leading to gregory canyon and green mountain ascent in chautauqua park hike in boulder colorado

  • Green Mountain Summit Hike

  • Distance: 5.5

    Difficulty: Difficult

    Like the 1st and 2nd Flatirons, Green Mountain is situated on the north end of Chautauqua Park, right in the heart of Boulder. If you are looking for a challenging hike that takes you to a summit with 360 degree views, then Green Mountain is a great workout to great panoramas.

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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

  • Distance: 2 and 3.1 Mile Loop Options

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Liesurely. That's the word that comes to mind when I think about hiking Mt. Sanitas. Well, that's true of the trail near the bottom of the mountain. The climb up is more challenging. Situated right in the heart of Boulder, the trails at the base of Mt. Sanitas may be the best place to walk your dog in town because of the broad trails, great views, and places for your pup to get a sip of water. Take the broad ridge trail up to the summit if you want to shift into workout mode and take in views of the city.

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    royal arch red rock formation in boulder's flatirons chautauqua park red rock arch with ponderosa pine in foreground

  • Royal Arch Hike in Chautauqua Park

  • Distance: 3.5 Mile

    Difficulty: Moderate

    The Royal Arch is a pink granite formation tucked back into the heart of the Flatirons range. This 3.5 mile, out-and-back hike. The hike climbs over 1000 feet in a short distance, as the trail makes its way up through narrow Bluebell canyon. Because of the many steps and because it's a popular hike, we recommend not hiking to Royal Arch with your pup. But because of the uphill and many steps, this adventure makes for a great leg workout.

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    lost lake near nederland colorado with snow capped peaks and woman hiker

  • Lost Lake Hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness

  • Distance: 4 Mile

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Indian Peaks is so breathtaking, that we had to include at least one hike on the list from the closest wilderness area to Boulder. The Lost Lake hike is a moderate, out-and-back trek from the Hessie Trailhead, located about 45 minutes west of Boulder. Because the trailhead has limited parking and is a popular hiking and backpacking starting point, there is a shuttle that runs during the Summer months that you can pick up in the mountain town of Nederland. We love this hike because it gets you back in the heart of the mountains and offers landscapes similar to those in Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out the full trail profile for more details on the hike and the seasonal shuttle service.

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    View of South Boulder Peak from Bear Peak Near Boulder Colorado

  • South Boulder Peak Summit Hike

  • Distance: 7.4 Mile Out-and-Back or 8.7 Mile Loop Hikes

    Difficulty: Difficult

    We'll finish up this list of best hikes near Boulder with a classic, South Boulder Peak. Like the Bear Peak an Mesa Trail hikes, the 3.7 mile ascent up to the summit begins at the South Mesa Trailhead (see trail profile for parking fee details). Enjoy late-summer raspberries along the trail, and take in 360 degree views of the surrounding Colorado countryside.

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Dayhikes Near Denver has been serving the outdoor community of the Colorado Front Range since 2010. In 2020, we have launched a line of apparel designed by Colorado-based artists featuring Colorado peaks and landscapes. Check out our store for new designs and to wear clothing that shows off your love for our beautiful state.


hikers with muddy hiking boots tips for hiking muddy trails

10 Tips for Hiking Muddy Trails

During the Spring and Winter months the trails near Denver get pretty muddy. How do you hike when the trails are muddy? We've put together a list of ten tips to help you take care of both the trails and your boots during this messy season.

1. Prioritize Damage Control:

Hiking muddy trails requires the mental shift from "I don't want to get muddy" to "I want to to preserve this trail." Most of the damage to trails and the surrounding environment happens when the trails are wet and muddy. This mental shift is our most important tip. For example, Matthew-Winters Park near Red Rocks experiences seasonal closurs because of the trail damage caused during these muddy days. So, if it's a high traffic trail with a lot of mud, consider choosing a different trail where you won't contribute to the damage. More on finding those trails below.

2. Stay the Trail:

This means choosing to get muddy. Hike right through the middle of those muddy segments. We all want to take those inviting sidetrails, but in doing that we create some serious erosion, that can lead to severe damage. You know those trails that cut across switchbacks? Those are the worst because they go through steep areas and can contribute to some serious trail damage.

3. Hit the Trail Early:

Because temperatures are colder in the morning, hiking trails are more firm and less muddy. It's a great way to reduce both damage to the trail and mud on your boots and pants.

woman hiker hiking on snow tips for hiking muddy trails

4. Hike on Snow:

During muddy seasons, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing up in the mountains. I love hiking the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter and spring when the snow covers the trail. A few recommended hikes: Emerald Lake - Fern Falls (for the more adventurous) - Calyspo Cascades in the Wild Basin - Alberta Falls - 4 Lakes and Waterfall Loop (for the more adventurous).

5. Hike on Paved Trails:

There are not a ton of these, but there are some. The main trail of Garden of the God's is paved, and many of our local Denver Bike paths. Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden is a family favorite, as well as the boardwalk along Evergreen Lake (short, but beautiful). The initial segment of the Fountain Valley Trail in Roxborough State Park is breathtaking.

6. Hike South-Facing Trails:

The sun shines on these segments and dries the trail faster. It takes some thinking and reviewing the trail maps. We provide links to trail maps on almost all of the hikes on Dayhikes Near Denver.


7. Trekking Poles:

Trekking Poles are probably my favorite piece of gear because they take so much impact and weight off of my knees. They also will help you to hike over the muddy puddles along the trail and you can use them to probe the depth of water-logged segements.
colorado hiker hiking on durable surface with mountainside and aspen trees tips for hiking on muddy trails

8. Wear Gaiters:

Gaiters are a great way to preserve your hiking pants and to keep mud away from the upper laces of your boots. I usually only wear gaiters if I'm on a multi-day backpacking trip. Check out REI's options for Gaiters.

9. Bring Grocery Bags for Your Muddy Boots:

When you get back to the car, you don't want to get the mud all over the upholstery. Pop your boots into those plastic bags, cinch them up, and you'll be able to clean them when you get home without also having to clean your car

10. Cleaning Your Boots:

Here's a simple step-by-step process for cleaning muddy hiking boots
- Rinse with water (don't scrub yet) to get the most of the mud you can. Don't immerse.
- Lightly scrub with a nylon brush or old toothbrush. Take out the laces and clean them seperately. This will allow you to get to the rest of the boot under the laces.
- If the boots are wet inside, then stuff them with an old t-shirt, paper towels, or newspaper.
- Let them dry. Don't accelerate this by putting them by a heat source. For instance, I dried out a pair of boots by the fire on an early backpacking trip and they shrunk by 1/2 and inch. Leather gets damaged near heat, too, so let them slow dry.
- Waterfproof. If your boots are Gore-Tex, don't waterproof them or you'll clog the breathable aspect of the boots. If they are old and the membrane is worn out, then you can waterproof them like any other boot. Check out REI's boot care options for waterproofing products.

Thanks goes out to Kevin Doncaster for the awesome muddy boot photo.


Holly Mandarich Adventure and Lifestyle Photographer reflection in car mirror driving along aspen grove

Holly Mandarich Colorado Adventure Photographer

Holly Mandarich grew up along the shores of Lake Michigan exploring wild places like the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Those places inspired a love of storytelling. Early on, Holly began documenting her trips, finding new perspectives on life through the lens of her camera. In college, she honed her skills of photo journalism. When she moved to Colorado, Holly has brought together her love for storytelling and the outdoors, capturing the beauty of our State and the lives of active people enjoying its landscapes.

During our recent redesign of Dayhikes Near Denver, we found Holly’s work and decided it was the perfect imagery to communicate what we want for our visitors. Her photographs inspire us to break free from the routine and to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. What follows is an interview with Holly so you can get to know of the storyteller behind her work and the images that may have already beckoned you back out and onto the trail. 

What have you discovered by looking at life through the lens of a camera?

Holly: I have discovered that everything can have emotion, even inanimate objects, light helps determine these factors. By looking through the lens and challenging myself to see with different perspectives, it gives me the power to communicate what I feel in a situation, rather than simply what is just in front of me. This allows me to tell a story in a whole new way.

When people are viewing your photography, how do you want your work to make them feel?

paddleboarder on colorado lake by colorado adventure photographer holly mandarich

Holly: I want people to see my photography, and see themselves in the experience, so much outdoor and lifestyle photography to me feels unattainable, with perfect models, and perfect scenes, I want people to feel like the outdoors is accessible to them, and that those picture perfect moments – are for everyone. When I shoot it’s my intention to have my photographs feel authentic.

"...those picture perfect moments - are for everyone."

What do your favorite clients have in common?

Holly: Everyone I work with has a similar sentiment when it comes to how they approach their business and their life, they are passionate, act with purpose, and are focused on enjoying the great outdoors with good people! 

snowboarder on mountain ridge by colorado adventure photographer holly mandarich

Let's talk Colorado: What story do you want to tell about our beautiful State?

hiker in high country of colorado wearing hat with green backpack by colorado adventure photographer holly mandarich

Holly: For Colorado specifically, I want to tell the story of its beauty and community. Colorado is a place for people to reconnect with themselves and reconnect with the people they love most. By experiencing the great outdoors alongside your best friend, you’re sure to have an impactful experience that goes beyond anything else, considering you’re in the land of giant mountains, and endless sunshine!

"I want people to see my photography and see themselves in the experience...to feel like the outdoors is accessible to them..."

Where's your favorite place to hike in Colorado?

Holly: The Holy Cross Wilderness! It holds a type of magic and silence that I have never been able to find anywhere else. Being above tree-line in that wilderness area will touch your soul, especially in late July when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

If someone from out-of-State, asked you, "What do you love about living in Colorado?"...

man and woman with canoe at high mountain lake by colorado adventure photographer holly mandarich

Holly: The sunshine, the mountains, and the remote silence you can find! There is magic here. Colorado can be filled with humans, but if you know where to go, you can find those magical moments we all seek!

Holly is an adventure lifestyle photographer who works closely with outdoor brands, active brands, and tourism destinations to capture authentic adventure! She also offers adventure elopement photography packages! 

You can see more of Holly’s work and get in contact with her here:

Her Website: http://hollymandarich.com

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holly.mandarich


family learning to cross country ski at the breckenridge nordic center in Colorado

Learning to Cross Country Ski

This winter our family wanted a new way to get out and enjoy the outdoors of Colorado. We’ve hiked many winter trails, but we’ve recently wondered what it would be like to enjoy snow-covered trails on cross country skis. But, how do you even get started–especially as a family? When I’m new to something, I find it’s wise to get a coach, an expert to help me start in the right direction. So, before buying a bunch of equipment, and perhaps creating bad habits, we decided to first take a lesson, test out some skis, and find out if we would enjoy it. We chose the Breckenridge Nordic Center for two reasons:

  • First, from their website, I sensed they had a real family-friendly character.
  • Second, the trails looked absolutely beautiful.

So, if you're wondering what it looks like to get started with cross country skiing, I think you'll learn what you need to know reading through our family's experience in getting started.

The Breckenridge Nordic Center

It’s pretty normal, when trying out a new sport, like cross country skiing, to feel uneasy and apprehensive, wondering if you’ll stick out as the person who obviously has no idea what he is doing. Instead, we felt welcomed into the living room of new-found friends. The staff was warm and helpful, helping us get fit into our skis and shoes. I had no idea there were different types of cross-country skis. We decided to keep it simple and to learn on classic skis, which are best suited for groomed traills on mostly level and gently sloping terrain.

The lodge looks like something out of the Tyrollean countryside, complete with massive log beams, a spiral staircase, windows looking out to the mountains, and a fire in the hearth. Our kids felt relieved to find we could eat lunch at the lodge. So, after our lesson we returned for get warm and to energy-up for more skiing.

It’s a popular destination, so parking can fill fast. We arrived around 9:45 (on a Monday) and still were able to get a spot. However, the town of Breckenridge runs a shuttle that makes regular stops at the Nordic Center. Take the Black Route using one of the Breck Free Ride lots and ask the driver to drop you off at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. If you have a lesson scheduled, allow for the extra time needed to park and ride. Figure in the extra time on the weekends because of ski traffic.

front of breckenridge nordic center lodge with snow

Learning to Cross Country Ski

two children taking cross country ski lesson with gary at breckenridge nordic center in colorado

“I’m going to miss him.” That was the comment made by our youngest daughter after our instructor, Gary, concluded our lesson. A retired local science teacher, Gary was amazing at helping our kids move from never-been-on-skis-in-my-life status to gaining the skills and confidence to enjoy their time on the trails. When we would move from one skill to the next, he would say, “Your next challenge is…” He was incredibly patient and his language helped our girls stay motivated.

Gary differentiated the cross country ski instruction for the adults, too. He first invested time with in our kids, knowing we would catch on a bit faster. Then, while our children were practicing and gliding down the trail, he would join back up with my wife and I to help us to add new skills and to coach us on our form.

Taking a Break: Warmth, Lunch, and Rest

Winter sports are demanding. After our lesson, we popped off our skis and headed back into the lodge to get some lunch and a bit of rest. Walking in cross country ski boots is way more comfortable than downhill skis. The lunch menu had two homemade soups: a caramelized onion potato soup and a tomato artichoke. Brats, hot dogs, chips, and plenty of drinks, too (including some Colorado brews). Sitting near the fire, we thawed out, filled our bellies and got ready to head out back into the snow.

Having run several businesses and led teams, I’m always aware of the staff dynamics of organizations. The staff at BNC stood out because they genuinely enjoyed one another. I observed them going the extra mile to help customers and to keep things tidy around the lodge. It’s those little things that add up to make a place memorable.

hearth in the great room of the breckenridge nordic center lodge

Skiing the Trails

johnson family after ski lesson in breckenridge colorado with mountains in distance on groomed nordic trail

Learn from My Two Mistakes

When we went back out on the trails, we made two mistakes. I mention them here hoping to convert them to cross country skiing “tips.” The first is a typical Colorado blunder, I forgot to put water bottles in my daypack. The second was that we decided to explore a new trail loop that required navigating some steeper terrain–bad idea. If I could rewind, we would have repeated the loop our instructor took us on for the lesson. On the Trail Map, this easy loop is the Troll Forest to Gold Digger loop, going counter-clockwise to make the loop.

The Trails

The nordic trails were beautifully groomed, winding through towering spruce and fir trees, by mountain cottages, and with views out to the mountains that make Breckenridge such a glorious Colorado destination. With 2000 acres, there are plenty of trails. The intermediate and advanced trails require a lot more uphill and downhill skills as well as additional leg power. We covered the approximately 3 miles of easy trails that afternoon. As mentioned above, we skied the intermediate segment linking the two sides of the Troll Forest trail. It is worth it, but if you are a beginner, it’s good to know that the steep segment leading down to Ken’s Kavern tunnel is way easier to navigate by taking off your skis and hiking it–especially for young children.

If you plan on skiing the Troll Forest Loop (and I definitely recommend it), ski the circuit clockwise to make the most of the tracks and to maximize the gentle downhill segments. Otherwise, it’s uphill most of the way.

Tips for Your First Time Cross Country Skiing

  • Start at a nordic center on groomed trails: This was definitely the optimal setting for learning and an easy entry into getting familiar with the equipment.
  • Bring a small daypack for water and snacks
  • If you're bringing kids, bring your patience, too. Our kids picked it up quickly, but I wish I had adjusted my expectations a bit.
  • If you're considering cross-country ski equipment, take a few minutes to make sure you find a comfortable pair. Take a photo of your shoe and the size tag for future reference (they come in European sizing).
  • Make a full day of it: We left at 8:30 and got home around 5:30. On the weekend, I'd recommend going earlier and to a longer drive home because of ski traffic.
  • Be aware of moose that may wander through or bed down in the area. Remember they are territorial, so it's important to give them space and to not approach them.
  • Dress in layers. It's a workout, so you'll get warm more quickly than you'd think.

mom and daughter skiing cross country with breckenridge mountains in background on groomed trail at breckenridge nordic center

Breck Nordic Center Details

skiing back to the lodge at breckenridge nordic center

  • See the Pricing Page for  detailed info, but the basics are: an adult trail pass is $25 per day, and a ski rental package is $23. Kids under 12 ski free and a kid's rental package is $10 (at the time of this writing 12/19).
  • Check out the Trail Map to get a feel for all your skiing options
  • BNC also offers Snowcat Tours up into the mountains and hosts Private Events at their O Be Joyful Lodge.
  • Be sure to check out their FAQ page. It's really helpful for planning your trip.
  • Location: 9 Grandview Drive, Breckenridge, CO 80424
  • Contact: 970-453-6855, BestNordicSki@gmail.com
  • Hours: Daily 9am-4pm

Dayhikes Near Denver would like to thank the owners and staff at BNC for hosting us and for a complimentary day learning to cross country ski at their facility.


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.


Healthy Easy Camping Meals

The most difficult part of going camping is the packing. And the most difficult part of packing for the camping trip is meal planning. Below, you'll find a meal-plan for a 3-Day camping trip, that is healthy and easy. It includes with tips on how to prepare your meals along with a few recipes. It's dairy-free, gluten-free, and avoids added sugar.

3-Day Healthy Easy Camping Meal Plan

Dinner #1

  • Protein: Tri-Tip
  • Veggie: Guacamole, Snap Peas, Baby Carrots, Sliced Peppers
  • Carbs: Tortilla Chips

Dinner #2

  • Protein: Ground Turkey Sausage
  • Veggies: Snap Peas, Baby Carrots, Sliced Peppers
  • Carbs:Sweet Potato Fries

Dinner #3

  • Protein: Hot Dogs
  • Carbs: Baked Potatoes or Haystack Fries or see recipe below for roasted potato fries
  • Veggies: Snap Peas, Baby Carrots, Sliced Peppers

Breakfasts

  • Protein: Bacon/Sausage, and Eggs
  • Carbs: Gluten-Free Pancakes (Pamela's Pancake Mix)
  • Fruit: Blueberries and Apples

Lunch and Snacks

  • PBJ
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Beef Jerky
  • Apples and Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • BBQ Chips
  • Homemade Granola

apples oranges avacados easy camping meals

Other

  • Coconut Oil: we pack this in a small tupperware-type container
  • Lime Juice or Lime Oil
  • Coffee: if you are using a french press, I recommend packing a press-worth (ours is about 8 tablespoons) in a snack-sized Ziploc so that you don't have to measure it out every morning.
  • Popcorn
  • Coconut Milk, cocoa with monkfruit for hot-chocolate

Recipes

Easy Sausage Recipe

Our kids LOVE this sausage, so much so that I have to refrain from cooking it up too often. It's crazy simple, too. Just cook up the turkey or pork in the skillet with the seasoning set below. I then put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. One pound feeds the four of us and makes for a great easy dinner. If we have leftovers, I'll cook it up with eggs in the morning. With precooked meats, I'm not as concerned about something going bad. Of course, it can still happen, but I reduce the risk and concern when it's all cooked up at home before camping.

  • Ground Turkey or Pork
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sage
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Thyme
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Fennel (the best part)

Sweet Potato and Red Potato Fries

This is by far the fastest and easiest way to cook potatoes when camping. Cut sweet potatoes, red, or russet potatoes into 1/2 inch squares, put them in a large ziploc bag or bowel and coat them with a few tablespoons of avacado or olive oil. Spread them out on a foil-lined baking pan and roast them up at about 400 degrees in the oven for about 40-50 minutes. I usually cook them for 30 minutes, then take them out and give them a turn and cook them for another 10 to 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them to see when they look done. I then set them out too cool, put them in freezer bags, and put them in the freezer. When camping, no oil is needed; just dump the potatoes in the skillet and heat them up!

sweet potato fries on backing sheet easy camping meals

Homemade Granola

I don't buy granola because 95% of it has incredibly high sugar content, and it's stupid expensive. It's like granola makers take all this healthy stuff and drench it in added sugar. I'm a recovering sugar addict an get sugar-induced headaches, so I make my own granola. Plus, it's super easy and pretty inexpensive.

Start with oats and any crushed nuts. I like to take roasted cashews and almonds and throw them in a food processor on pulse just to break them up. Add in any seeks like pumpkin or sesame seeds and put them all together in a bowl. Mix in some melted coconut oil, about 1/8th of a cup for each cup of rolled oats. Now, you can adjust your sugar level to your liking by adding maple syrup or honey. Mix it up, then spread it all out on a parchment-lined baking pan. Cook at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, giving it a stir at about 10 minutes in. Take it out and cool. Then you can mix in dried fruit like cranberries, and other items you don't really want to bake, like shredded coconut to the granola.

Homemade Chocolate Sea Salt Bars

I love Kind Bar's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt bar. And I love that it only has 6 grams of sugar. A few years back, I found a copycat recipe at The Yummy Life. Friends and family are always asking for the recipe. They have a bit more sugar via the rice syrup than I can have this month, but they are still worth mentioning. You can get the recipes at The Yummy Life - Homemade Kind Bars.

Dairy Free, Sugar Free Hot Chocolate

This is a super-easy hot chocolate that's really rich. Adjust the sweetener and cocoa powder to your liking. Tip: don't forget to pack a whisk in with your camping gear. I've never remembered to bring one and it's really difficult to keep the cocoa from clumping without one.

  • 1 Can of Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of MonkFruit
  • 3 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
  • A Few Camp Cooking Tips

  • Get a small plastic container for all your cooking utensils, like spatula, knives, foil, etc.
  • Pack the blue shop towels. These go a lot further than normal paper towels and are great for cleaning up.
  • Freeze as much as you can to preserve things longer, and to save space in your cooler by not having to use so much ice.
  • We pack all our dry ingredients in a short rubbermaid container. If fact, we put most of our camping gear in stackable rubbermaid containers when we go car camping.
  • Use the slider type of Ziploc bags. This is a game-changer when your hands are cold and your groggy and you don't want to get your hands oily and messy while cooking.