Forgotten Valley Hike at Golden Gate State Park

Can you think of a more mysterious name for a hike? Colorado's Golden Gate State Park has many trails, and the Forgotten Valley is a great place to start discovering this gem that is tucked between Golden and Boulder, Colorado. Get all the details on hiking the Forgotten Valley by scrolling down to the hike snapshot and hiking tips below.

Trail Snapshot: Forgotten Valley Hike at Golden Gate State Park

The Forgotten Valley in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a step back in time.This day hike near Denver takes you 1.5 miles to an old homestead complete with front porch views of the small lake that sits in the bottom of the valley. From the Bridge Trailhead, take the Burro Trail for approximately 3/4 of a mile to where it intersects with the Mountain Lion Trail. Turn North (Left) on the Mountain Lion Trail, and follow that for about 3/4 of mile to Forgotten Valley and the Tallman Homestead. The pond in the valley is stocked by the division of wildlife. We want to thank Kenny Chaffin for his photo of the Tallman Homestead. You can view more of his Denver area photos here.

forgotten valley homestead hike golden

Tips & Resources for Hiking Forgotten Valley Hike at Golden Gate State Park :

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chicago lakes from above with storm brewing near mt evans colorado

Chicago Lakes Hike Near Mt. Evans

Want to take in some of Colorado's breathtaking scenery and put some miles under your hiking boots? The Chicago Lakes hike begins at Echo Lake. You'll pass three more mountain lakes as you punch up into the high country of Colorado's Mt. Evan's Wilderness. Explore the full trail profile below for the Chicago Lakes which includes driving directions, map, and tips.

Trail Snapshot: Chicago Lakes Hike Near Idaho Springs, Colorado

Looking for amazing views and some high mountain lakes near Denver? This challenging hike takes you to two high mountain lakes with amazing views of the Mt. Evans Wilderness area. Both lakes can be fished, as well as the lower Idaho Springs Reservoir that you pass on your way. We are not into giving long trail descriptions on Dayhikes Near Denver, but we'd suggest you read the basic one below and check out the trail description and pdf Chicago Lakes map link in the trail profile below.

The Chicago Lakes Trailhead and Trail: Park at the Echo Lake lot, where you'll find the sign for Chicago Lakes Trail 52 on the west side of the lake. That will lead you to another sign about .5 mile later directing you to the trail. The trail will turn into Idaho Springs Reservoir Road, then will return to a normal trail. It climbs through a burn area, the result of a fire in the 1970s, then continues to climb to Lower Chicago lake. The trail has a lot of character: steep areas, massive cliff walls, and expansive meadows. The trail continues, faint at times, up a steeper section to Upper Chicago Lake.

wildflowers in meadow with mountains in background on chicago lakes trail near mt evans colorado

As you'll see in the comments on this hike, people come back with different trail lengths. So, to clear this up: Beginning at Echo Lake, the trail is 4.24 miles one-way to the lake. However, most people don't want to stop there, many continue on to the upper lake, which adds and additional .6 mile to the trail. Then, some people opt to hike around the lake, which adds to the hike as well. You may want to start early, especially in the Summer months so that you have the time to explore and to avoid our famous, afternoon Colorado thunderstorms.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Chicago Lakes Near Mt. Evans, Colorado :

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

Bear Lake Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

From Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (just 2 hours from Denver), you can launch out on dozens of hiking adventures, trails that range from less than a mile to full day treks back into Glacier Gorge or Andrews Creek. If you are visiting Colorado and looking for a high variety of trails or just a good place to start your vacation, this is one of the best places in the state. For details on the trail, see the hiking trail profile below, and download the trail map to get an idea of the different hikes that begin at Bear Lake.

Trail Snapshot: Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

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

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

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crown hill lake trails header

Crown Hill Lake Trails

Jefferson County seems to turn to gold about every park they touch here in Colorado. Crown Hill Lake Park is a prime example. It's an oasis in the midst of the busy city of Denver. The park has beautiful views of the Front Range mountains, including the Flatirons down in Boulder.

Crown Hill Lake Park has three miles of paved trails and .7 of them are considered ADA accessible, all in the heart of Denver. On the northwest side of the park, you'll find a wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds. Explore the full trail profile below for all the details: hiking trails, trail map, and detailed directions to the trailhead.

Trail Snapshot: Crown Hill Lake Trails

Hikes at Crown Hill Park:

  • Loop Trail - 1.2miles - goes around the lakeside
  • Perimeter Trail - 2 miles - goes around the edge of the park
  • Nature Preserve Trail / Wildlife Sanctuary Trail - .7 mile - Hiker Only and ADA accessible trail
  • Link to the Park's Map

Tips & Resources for Hiking Crown Hill Lake Trails :

  • TIP: It's a busy park, so try earlier and later in the day.
  • TIP: The wildlife preserve is hiker only. No dogs in this area.
  • TIP: There is a lot of multi-use traffic on the trails, so be alert and yield when appropriate.
  • Trail Map for Crown Hill Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Danny's Carnation Restaurant
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Kasey Cline for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike.

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lakes loop trail rocky mountain arsenal hike with sunrise on tree beside lake with snowcovered grasses

Lakes Loop Trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

An arsenal turned into a Wildlife Refuge. What a great idea! The refuge boasts over 15,000 acres and over 300 species of wildlife. It also hosts three lakes and Denver lake hikes. The Lakes Loop Trail at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is a 1.7 mile loop that winds along the shores of two lakes in the park, Lake Mary and Lake Ladora. Explore the full trail profile for all the details: hiking trails, trail map, and detailed directions to the trailhead.

Trail Snapshot: Lakes Loop Trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

How to Hike the Loop: Check in and begin your hike at the visitors center. Follow the Lake Mary Trail along the northwest of the lake until it merges with the the Prairie Trail. Follow the Prairie Trail to the south until it merges with the Ladora Trail which will take you back to the visitors center and along the shore of Lake Ladora.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Lakes Loop Trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal :

  • TIP: Hiking and site seeing are open 7 days a week. However, the visitors center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and pets are prohibited (makes sense - it's a wildlife refuge).
  • TIP: Trolley Tours are available on the weekends. Check out this tours link or call 303/289-0250.
  • Trail Map for Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Butcher Block Cafe
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Ray Fetherman for sharing such a beautiful photograph of this hike.

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Arthur's Rock Trail in Lory State Park

The Arthurs Rock trail in Lory State Park near Fort Collins, Colorado ends with a beautiful panoramic views. You'll pass through meadows, forest, then end your hike with a scramble to the top of Arthur's Rock. Dogs are allowed on a leash, just be sure to bring plenty of water as there are not many places to access drinking water.

Trail Snapshot: Arthur’s Rock Trail in Lory State Park

Arthur's Rock History

The place got its name from Arthur Howard who was the one who, along with his brother, Charlie, sold this piece of land. For more information on the history of Arthur's Rock and Lory State Park, visit this page.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Arthur’s Rock Trail in Lory State Park :

  • TIP: There is a visitor's center near the Lory State Park entrance.
  • TIP: At the summit of Arthur's Rock, there is a beautiful view of Horsetooth Reservoir and the Front Range available.
  • Trail Map for Lory State Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: The Colorado Room
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Luci Westphal for sharing a great photo of her hike to Arthur's Rock at Lory State Park. Check out her video from this hike.

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Echo Lake Trail Near Mt. Evans

Colorado's Echo Lake is looped by an easy hiking trail and serves as a trailhead to even more classic Colorado hikes. When we have friends and family visiting Colorado from out of town, this is one of best destinations for a great views. Go early to Echo Lake to get perfect photos of Mount Evans reflected in the water. Explore the full hike profile below that will give you driving directions from Denver, a trail map, and all the information you need to launch out on this adventure.

Trail Snapshot: Echo Lake Near Mt. Evans

Echo Lake Area

A great Colorado park to take visiting family and friends. It's an hour from Denver and has very short trail, but it's a great place to introduce others to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and to take in a high Colorado lake. The trail circles Echo Lake and connects to several other trails: Chicago Lakes, Bear Track Lakes trails, which give you access to Mount Evans Wilderness Area which is full of other great hiking trails,and Mt. Evans summit.

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Near the parking area, you'll find a stone picnic shelter which was built in 1937. When the weather is getting hot, it's a great place for a picnic or a wonderful place to break out the hot chocolate on a snowy winter day.

If you are looking for more Colorado lake hikes, be sure to check out our Lake Hikes Near Denver page.

Echo Lake Colorado Camping

There are great camping opportunities at the Echo Lake Campground near the lake. Near the shores is a spruce forest. For detailed information on camping near Echo Lake in Mt. Evans, see the Recreation.gov page.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Echo Lake, Colorado :

  • TIP: Early morning means that Echo lake is still, providing no windy weather, and is a perfect time to photograph or just to observe the rocky mountains reflected in the water.
  • TIP: A nice short Colorado hike can be made by parking at the parking lot (see map above & below), and hiking around the lake to the Historic Echo Lake Lodge. Visit there, then turn around and enjoy the lake on the way back again.
  • TIP: When you finish, drive up to the summit and enjoy the view from the top of Mt. Evans. Or visit Summit Lake Park
  • TIP: One of our favorite day-trips with visitors who are not from Colorado, is to take them to Echo Lake, Mt. Evans Summit (by car), then into Evergreen for Pizza at Beaujos Pizza
  • TIP: In regards to driving to the top of Mt. Evans: We avoid bringing friends who are not in good health. Be sure to have your guests drink plenty of water, and make sure they have had a day or two to get used to the altitude in the mile-high city.
  • Weather: The Weather link below is for Idaho Springs. Weather at the altitude of Echo Lake may be very different, and Weather at the summit will definitely be different. Check this National Weather Service Link for more accurate forecasts.
  • After the Hike: After The Hike: Beaujos in Evergreen
  • Looking for something more adventurous? Try the Chicago Lakes Hike. It starts in the same parking lot.
  • Trail Map for Echo Lake Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
emerald green lake surrounded by mountains in rocky mountain national park emerald lake hike

Emerald Lake Hike Rocky Mountain National Park

Emerald Lake is one of the most accessible hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you are visiting RMNP, and have limited time to visit, the trail to Emerald Lake is an excellent option. You'll pass both Dream Lake and Nymph lake before you end your hike at Emerald Lake and it's stunning views of Hallet Peak. For more information on this hike, explore the trail profile which includes trail map, driving directions, and helpful tips and resources to enjoy this Colorado hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Snapshot:Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

trail leading through grey crags on emerald lake hike in rocky mountain national park

A Colorado Hike with a lot of bang for the buck. What we mean is that there is a lot to see on this 1.8 miles stretch of trail. Starting at Bear Lake, you'll take in a total of four Colorado lakes, and pass a small waterfall near the top of the trail. If you are looking for a handicap accessible hike, the trail around Bear Lake Loop hike may be the most beautiful, handicap accessible trail in Colorado. In the winter, the hike up to Emerald makes for a perfect snowshoe hike.

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At Nymph Lake on the way up to Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake Trail Directions & Trailhead Information

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

For conditions at Emerald Lake, see the Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Conditions page.

List and Links of Destinations From Bear Lake to Emerald Lake

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

Emerald Lake Hike in winter snows at Rocky Mountain National Park

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Emerald Lake :

  • Get to the Bear Lake trailhead early: We say this for almost every hike near Denver, but the Bear Lake Parking area is probably the busiest in the park. If you can't get there early, just take the shuttle from the lower parking area.
  • The Wildlife: We have seen a beautiful black bear in this area on one occasion. It just saw us and ambled away. As with any hike where there are a lot of wildlife, keep small children within sight at all times. On your way out, be sure to stop around Moraine Park and watch the Elk.
  • Snowshoeing to Emerald Lake In the winter, this is a Colorado wonderland and a very accessible trail to snowshoe. You can rent snowshoes for a great price at The Colorado Mountain Shop in Estes Park.
  • PhotoS: We would like to express our gratitude to Tim Lumley and Daniel for sharing their photos of Emerald Lake in RMNP.
  • Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Kind Coffee

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