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.


7 Hikes Near Denver for Your Fourth of July Weekend

7 Hikes Near Denver for Your Fourth of July Weekend


Are you looking forward to hike this Fourth of July Weekend? Getting up into the mountains near Denver is a great way to cool off during the Fourth of July weekend. Colorado's wildflowers are in their glory and the mountain streams are still gushing with melt-water alongside the trails. But you probably don't want to break the bank paying for fuel; and if you are like us, you've got some events to attend close to home. So, we've come up with 7 great hikes that are close to Denver, and hopefully (we can't make promises) won't be too crowed on the holiday weekend. Be sure to download our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes.

  • Ample Parking: The 4th of July Weekend means some of the highest traffic on the trails in Colorado. School is out, and it's the height of vacation season. So, while I'd rather direct you first to some wonderful features like waterfalls and peak-top views, getting a parking space is probably priority number one this weekend.
  • Enjoyable with Friends & Family: On holiday weekends we are often out hiking with friends and family. I tried to put together a set of hikes that are not too difficult and open up spaces for conversation as we all hike along the trail together.
  • Close to Denver: This set of hikes are all within 90 minutes of Denver, Colorado--and most are within 60 minutes of downtown. If you want to explore hikes that are further from town, check out our Hikes Worth the Drive page.

Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Distance: 2.5-mile Loop
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour
    Difficulty: Easy
    The Raccoon Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a new family favorite. It features lots of shade, and easy to moderate trail difficulty, and incredible mountain views of the Indians Peaks. Parking at Panorama Point is limited, but this hike can also be started from the Reverend's Ridge Campground parking area, which offers a lot more parking (though this weekend will be pretty busy up there). As with all these hikes, go early to avoid the heat of midday and find a good place to park. If you are looking for more loop hikes near Denver, check out our our page with a few other nearby loops.

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    Eldorado Falls Hike at Walker Ranch

  • Eldorado Falls Hike at Walker Ranch

  • Distance: 2.5 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Eldorado Falls is a small cascade waterfall found along a stretch of the larger Walker Ranch Loop. It's a 2.5 mile round-trip hike from the nearest parking area, but the Walker Ranch loop can be accessed from several other trailheads. We are including it in this post because this trailhead sees less traffic, and there are other trailhead options down the road. Do be courteous to the folks who live in this residential area by not parking along the narrow dirt road. They would great appreciate it. After 8am, the drive over the Flatirons necessary to get to this trailhead will likely have some congestion because Flagstaff road has so many hikers crossing it and folks driving slow to take in the sites. You can check the google map/driving directions on our full trail profile to see traffic and drive times. For a full list of Waterfall hikes, you can explore our many pages of Waterfall Hikes Near Denver page.

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    Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

  • Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

  • Distance: 1.8 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    The Clear Creek trail in Golden offers a great opportunity for families with strollers and groups to hike alongside one another. There are little "beach" areas where kids can play in the shallow water, and watch the tubers and kayakers going by. With water levels high and currents swift this time of year, be cautious around the water's edge. At the time of this writing (7/2016) the City of Golden has certain restrictions posted for tubers because of the high water levels. See our Clear Creek hike profile page for full details, including directions to several parking areas. It's not your classic backcountry hike, but it's a great weekend adventure. For more hikes near Golden, Colorado, check out our Hikes Near Golden page.

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    Ouzel Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Ouzel Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 5.4 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Though Ouzel Falls is only 40-feet high, it may be one of the most beautiful in Rocky Mountain National. On this 5.4 mile round-trip hike, hikers will take in several waterfalls as they hike along the course of North St. Vrain Creek. We are including a couple trails, Ouzel Falls and the next hike, which are located in Rocky Mountain National Park in this set just because they are so gorgeous this time of year. But, these are probably not good options if you arrive after 7:30 AM. From May through mid-August, we recommend always getting there early. Buy a park pass online before you go. For our full set of over 50 hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, explore our Rocky Mountain National Park Trails pages.

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    Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 6.4-mile Loop
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours
    Difficulty: Moderate
    This second hike in Rocky Mountain National takes hikers along some well-traveled trails on a 6.4 mile loop to visit four sub-alpine lakes and Alberta Falls. For more hike options in RMNP, be sure to check out our Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and Lake Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park pages.

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    Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Distance: 1.4-mile Loop
    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    I recommend the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks more than any other hike in the Denver Area. I have three reasons: The hike is beautiful, it's short, and it's super close to Denver. There is more than just the trail to explore. Be sure to take in the amphitheater and the cave just north of the amphitheater. You'll find the cave info on another trail profile for the Red Rocks Trail below. This is a great hike for families with kids and the perfect hike for family who are visiting for the holiday weekend. There are a lot of hikes near Denver featuring red rock formations--more than you might guess--so, check out our Hikes with Red Rock Formations page for a selection of several more trail options.

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    Elk Range Trail at Centennial Cone Park

  • Elk Range Trail at Centennial Cone Park

Distance: 6.6 miles Round Trip
Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
A sunrise or sunset hike up at Centennial Cone may be your best shot at some solitude. Rolling green mountainsides, herds of elk and deer, and views to the distant mountains all are great reasons to make the 45 minute drive to this Jefferson County Park. If you are looking for more hikes with Mountain Range views near Denver, explore our Mountain Range View Hikes page.

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Map of 7 Fourth of July Weekend Hikes Near Denver



elk falls waterfall spilling over granite cliff faces with evergreen trees in staunton state park colorado

Elk Falls - New Waterfall Near Denver

Elk Falls in Colorado's new Staunton State Park opened to the public in 2013. This highest waterfall near Denver had been unknown to most, and inaccessible, except to a few. Now it's an adventure waiting for able hikers! If you are a fan of waterfall hikes and you live near Denver, you'll know that it's kind of slim pickings; most of the best waterfalls in Colorado require driving beyond the Front Range, or into Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk Falls, is just 50 minutes from Denver! The 3700 acre Staunton State Park offers incredible hiking, rock climbing, and beautiful rock formations - all making for some great Colorado day hikes. Explore the full Elk Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and many of the details you need to enjoy this adventure in Staunton State Park.

Trail Snapshot: Elk Falls Overlook Hike at Staunton State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Elk Falls in Staunton State Park

The parking and trailhead area are immediately noticeable after the park entrance. On weekends, things can really back up at the entrance due to the number of visitors and those who need to purchase a parks pass. If you don't have your yearly parks pass, you can pick one up at a local Kings Soopers grocery store at the customer service area. Because your hike will begin with the Staunton Ranch Trail, the main artery of Staunton State Park, just look for the main trail which heads to the center of the park. If you've parked at the lower parking area, you'll have two Trailheads before you, the Staunton Ranch and the Mason Creek trailheads. Be sure to choose the Staunton Ranch Trail. The Elk Falls overlook can be reached by starting on the Mason Creek Trail, but its a significantly longer and more difficult 17 mile loop hike. Maps are available at the entrance and highly recommended for this hike.

elk-falls-overlook-hike-along-staunton-ranch-trail

The Hike: Elk Falls in Staunton State Park

The Staunton Ranch Trail leads hikers into the heart of Staunton State Park, through stands of ponderosa pine and past the Staunton Rocks climbing area. After 3.3 miles, the trail ends at a trail intersection with three new trails. The most direct route to the Elk Falls overlook is to choose the Bugling Elk trail which follows a small creek for 1.1 miles until it arrives at Elk Falls Pond, a good place to stop and Fish.

At Elk Falls Pond, a third trail, the Lion's Back Trail, leads another 1 mile up to the Elk Falls Overlook. Atop a highpoint, hikers will gain great views down to where Elk Falls drops from the cliff face into a beautiful mult-tiered waterfall. Out and Back, its a total of 10.8 miles.

Colorado State Parks is working on an Elk Falls Trail project that will eventually open access to the base of Elk Falls. This is projected to be completed and opened to the public in the Fall of 2016.

If you'd like to add a more challenging return segment to your hike and see new areas of the park, hikers can pick up the Marmot Passage trail until it meets with the hiker-only Scout Line trail, which eventually leads back to the main Staunton Ranch trail. This return route will add additional mileage, difficulty, and time to the hike back. Consult the trail map and topo lines to get a feel for the demanding nature of this option.

Tips & Resources for Hiking To Elk Falls Overlook:

  • TIP: Getting into the park can be slow at times, so be prepared to wait at the entrance on busy weekends.
  • Trekking Poles & Traction Devices are Recommended in Spring and Winter: During this time of year, there can be patches and even longer segments of snow and ice on the trail. Because of this, we recommend Trekking Poles and/or Traction Devices for this trail.
  • Trail Map for Staunton State Park: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Crow Hill Cafe in Bailey
  • We would like to express our gratitude to Bill Chopp for sharing such an amazing photograph of Elk Falls.

Weather

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

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.


Railroad Culvert - Lee Gulch Trail

4 Great Stroller Hikes Near Denver


Our children are not big enough to hike long distances yet. So, we usually we put the kiddos in child carrier backpacks. When we can though, we try to break out the Bob Stroller and hit a local trail. Here are 4 trails close to Denver that work great with a stroller.

Criteria for these Denver Area Stroller Hikes

  • Crushed Gravel or Paved Trail
  • Great Views or Natural Features
  • Accessibility

Click on the Maroon Links to get directions, trail maps, and hiking profiles.

#1 The Bluffs Loop South of Denver

Bluffs Regional ParkThis 2.7 mile loop trail is one of our favorites, and probably is the hike we do the most. The Bluffs provide panoramic views of Colorado's Front Rang and of downtown Denver. We try to go around 7pm when the sun is setting. You're likely to see deer and meadowlarks along the trail. Right now, we just hike it, but other will use this as a challenging run with the stroller.

#2 Bear Creek Trail at Lair O' The Bear Park

Lair of the Bear Trail


This 1.7 mile stretch of the Bear Creek Trail is accessed at Lair O' the Bear park. We've observed from our O'Fallon Park Hike that the trail stretches further west.We doubt that all 6.3 miles are stroller accessible, but there is definitely more to explore. The trail follows bear creek and goes in and out of the trees, so you get a bit of shade. Be alert for mountain bikes as it's one of the more popular mountain biking trails near Denver.

#3 Fountain Trail at Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park - Fountain Valley Trail This trail is not paved but all 2.7 miles are considered handicap accessible, so it makes for a great hike with your stroller. Of the four hikes, this is the most beautiful. It's also great for birdwatching as well as giving the kids a chance to see deer, as they are used to the human traffic in the park.

#4 Clear Creek Trail in Golden

Clear Creek Trail in Golden Colorado We'll admit that this last one isn't that much of a "real hike." But it makes for a great lazy weekend morning. The trail runs along Clear Creek and there is always something to entertain: swallows playing under the bridge, kayakers and water rescue training, and the summer farmers market. We love to take a picnic, and throw a blanket down in Parfet Park or grab coffee at the Windy Saddle Cafe which has a great little play room for the kids.

Disclaimer: These hikes are for strollers that are designed for jogging and trails. The Clear Creek trail is paved and would be great for almost any stroller.


snow on red rock formation in roxborough state park near denver easy winter hiking trails

3 Easy Winter Hikes

It's hard to just get out of the house on a Saturday morning. Add a bit of cold weather, scraping the frost off the car, getting the family bundled up, and it's just that much harder to get out and enjoy nature. So, I've looked over a few of our favorite local trails and decided on three Denver hikes that are really easy to get to and have a lot of "bang for the buck."

Criteria for these Denver Winter Hikes:

  1. Accessible in the Winter
  2. Mostly Level Trails
  3. High on the Beauty & Wildlife Scale

Three Easy Winter Hikes

#1 - South Valley Park Trails

snow on trail with red rocks and blue skies at south valley park in Littleton Colorado winter hike near denver

Red Rock, Deer, and beautiful meadows are the draw here. This hike is on the south-west side of Denver in Littleton, Colorado, and very accessible from 470. When there is good snowfall, it would be perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. This Denver trail has been one of our favorite sunset hikes because of the way the setting sun lights up the red rock. Click Here for the Full Trail Profile.

#2 - Lakes Loop Trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

lakes loop trail rocky mountain arsenal header

It might sound kind of strange to say, "We're headed over to the arsenal for a hike", but the Rocky Mountain Arsenal has been turned into what has been called an "island of habitat" in the middle of the city. There are lakes, Bison, waterfowl, deer, burrowing owls, all just about 7 miles east of the center of Denver. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal features several hikes, and we profile a beautiful one at the trail page for the Lakes Loop Hike. Finally, be sure to check their seasonal hours at their website.

#3 - Roxborough State Park Hikes

red rocks and snow along hiking trail at roxborough state park in colorado winter hikes near denver

When you enter Roxborough State Park, it is a bit like entering a different world. There is a real sense of being down and inside of it because the towering red rock creates such a unique space. This is one of the best winter hikes near Denver because you are often shielded from the wind, and the trails of the valley floor are fairly level. If there has been a lot of snow, we would suggest you call the park office to be sure that the road is clear. We have a couple trail profiles in the links below, but the park offers several other options as well.

If you have any hikes that you would add to the list of Best Easy Hikes Near Denver, then post a comment. If we haven't profiled them yet, we will.
Happy Colorado Hiking!

Photo Credits: Thanks goes out to Adam Meek and the US Fish and Wildlife service for photos in this post.