sunrise on bergen peak hike near evergreen colorado with elk meadows in foreground and bergen peak in background

Bergen Peak Hike Near Evergreen

The hike up Bergen Peak follows a challenging 4.6 mile trail in the Elk Meadows near Evergreen, Colorado. With both loop hike and out-and-back options, you'll take in views from Bergen's summit of the surrounding Colorado foothills, western mountains, and eastern plains. This makes a great adventure in the Fall to take in the changing colors of the aspen trees. Explore the full trail profile below for the trail map, driving directions to the trailhead, and more details you'll want to know before hitting the trail.

Trail Snapshot: Bergen Peak Hike

aspen trees in winter against blue skies and clouds on bergen peak hike in colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Bergen Peak

From Denver, take Interstate 70 West, and exit onto CO74 South toward Bergen Park and Evergreen. After passing CO 103, keep your eyes peeled for the signs for Elk Meadow Park. Go past Lewis Ridge Road, then take a right onto Stagecoach road. The Stagecoach Trailhead will be up on your right. Please park only in designated areas. There has been a lot of erosion damaged caused by visitors parking alongside the road. If parking is full, park at thew Lewis Ridge Trailhead to the east. If the lot is full, you can turn back around and look for parking at the Lewis Ridge Road parking area and trailhead.

The Hike: Bergen Peak

The hike to Bergen Peak begins at the north end of the parking area on a trail that leads into a broad meadow. This inital 0.3 mile segment heads east, away from Bergen Peak, but it does take you to the correct trail. At the first junction, take a left (west) onto the Meadow View trail. This 0.7 mile segment bends west where aspen and pines meet this high country prairie and gives you views down into the Elk Meadows (and maybe some elk) below.

bergen peak in background with green elk meadows in foreground on bergen peak hike near evergreen colorado

At 1 mile into the hike, you'll find the signage for the Bergen Peak Trail (on your left, when facing north). This is where the hike goes from easy to challenging. You'll traverse a broad ridge of ponderosa pine forest as the trail winds through over a dozen switchbacks making its way up the mountainside. Be sure to stay the trail and not cut through on these as the erosion caused by the cut-throughs can be substantial and requires a lot of work to repair.

trail with evergreen trees on way up to bergen peak on hike near evergreen colorado

This ridge segment is a total of 2.7 miles and at around 8900' in elevation crosses through a wildlife area managed by the State of Colorado. During the Spring, this area is off-limits to dogs so as not to disturb the mating season of local wildlife. If you are considering this hike with your dog in the Spring, reach out to the Colorado Division of Wildlife to get the correct dates.

sunrise lighting up ponderosa pine near the summit of bergen peak on hike near evergreen colorado

At 3.6 miles into the hike, you'll find the summit trail on your left. This trail ascends via another set of switchbacks on what you'll discover is the steepest segment of the hike up Bergen Peak. Still, douglas fir and lodgepole pine grow at this higher altitude and provide some dappled shade. The trail wraps around the peak to the south, then switches back again north to the summit.

Bergen Peak is uniquely situated in the middle of the Colorado foothills. Because of this, the summit you can view mountains to the west and the unique features of the foothill canyons running down toward the plains.

view from the summit of bergen peak near evergreen colorado

To return, hike the same way you hiked in for a total of 9.4 miles.

Alternatively, you can make this a loop hike by descending the 1 mile summit trail and taking a left on the Too Long Trail (think about it's name before going this way and make sure you have plenty of water). This makes a steep, 2.4 mile, switchbacked descent back down to the Meadow View Trail. Take a right (south) onto the Meadow View Trail, hiking for 1 mile until you come to the intersection. here, go right again onto the Meadow View Trail, taking it back to the trail leading to the Stagecoach Trailhead. This loop hike up Bergen Peak totals approximately 9.1 miles.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Bergen Peak

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rock formations and trees near on tundra near the summit of chief mountain colorado

Chief Mountain Hike

Chief Mountain is a 1.5-mile hike in the mountains just one hour outside of Denver, Colorado. The Chief Mountain trail travels through alpine forest, then breaks out into high-country tundra, eventually gaining panoramic views of surrounding mountains. Chief Mountain gives hikers an incredible vantage point to survey the changing colors of Fall spread out in 360 degrees below. Explore the full Chief Mountain hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Denver.

Trail Snapshot: Chief Mountain Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for Chief Mountain Hike

From Denver, take Interstate 70 west to exit 252. This exit will funnel you onto CO-74/Evergreen Parkway headed West/Southwest for about 2 miles, where you'll take a right onto Squaw Pass Road. Squaw Pass road is paved and climbs the mountain in a series of switchback for 10.4 miles. The trailhead is easy to miss. It's a pull-out on the right-hand/North side of the road. It's worth taking a look at the parking area using satellite view on Google maps before going. You'll notice that the trail begins just a bit East of the parking area on the South side of the road. We've dropped the pin in the driving directions above at the location of the trailhead. As with all roads at this altitude, be sure to check conditions and closures before setting out.

squaw pass road colorado bend in road at switchback with golden aspens and green spruce trees

The Hike: Chief Mountain Trail

The Chief Mountain trail begins on the south side of Squaw Pass road. The trail starts out as a steep 1/4 mile segment that takes hikers through dense alpine forest to Old Squaw Pass Road. The trail is picked up again on the other side of the dirt road and marked by signage. The trail bends now along the base of Papoose Mountain and the dense forest gives way to scattered trees and eventually into high-country tundra. Colorado's tundra ecosystems are incredibly fragile. Here the alpine flowers and lichens grow close to the ground in order to survive in the harsh winds and cold. Stay on maintained trails as it can literally take centuries for this alpine environment to recover from the damage inflicted upon it by foot traffic.

The trail should be evident, but you'll also find that it is marked by blaze marks on some of the trees. The trail becomes more demanding and steep. With each switchback new panoramas reveal distant snow-capped landscapes. Jagged rock formations grow in size as the trail gains elevation and makes its way closer to the summit.

The views are incredible at the top (see photo below). Mount Evans can be seen to the West and Squaw Mountain to the East. This is a great vantage point for taking in the changing aspens along the Front Range of Colorado. For more Fall Hikes, see our 25+ Hikes for Viewing the Changing Aspens in Colorado.

green mountains in front of snowcapped mount evans panoramic view with clouds from an top of chief mountain colorado

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elk meadow park south loop header

Elk Meadow Park - South Loop

Elk Meadow Park is a great place to hike with your family, if you have little ones, or if you just want to talk with a friend as you hike and take in great views of Colorado. It is important to know that the adjacent off-leash dog park has been closed. Get all the info you need to hike Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen by exploring the full trail profile below.

Trail Snapshot: Elk Meadow Park - South Loop

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

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

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

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

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

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evergreen lake trail header

Evergreen Lake Trail

This Colorado hike (more of a stroll) is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. You can rent canoes and sailboats from the nature center and warming house. In the winter, the Evergreen Lake transforms into an ice skating wonderland. Explore this hike profile for all the details.

Trail Snapshot: Evergreen Lake Trail

The Hike: Evergreen Lake Trail:

Evergreen Lake Trail is a 1.3 mile loop in the quaint mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado. If you have a young family like us, and are looking for an easy hike near Denver, this is a great choice.

From the Evergreen Lake house, the trail winds along a boardwalk, through a wetlands area, then towards town. If you are going this way (clockwise) around the lake, be sure to take the high path when you come to where the trail splits. The lower path is more of a fishing trail that soon becomes difficult to navigate. You can take the high path into town or over the dam and to the backside of the lake.

Along the back side of Evergreen Lake stands the old Warming House and Nature Center, operated by the Evergreen Audubon Society. Be sure to check their site for their seasonal hours. At the boathouse, the Evergreen Park & Recreation District operates boat rental and concessions. Their hours are seasonal as well. You can visit Evergreen Parks & Rec. boating page for rental info and hours. In the Winter, the lake transforms into an ice skating wonderland that rivals New York's Rockefeller Square. Skate rental and admission fees can be found on the Hockey and Skating page on the Evergreen Parks District Site.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Evergreen Lake Trail :

  • TIP: Like we mentioned above, take the high path along the road when walking clockwise around the lake.
  • TIP: Make it a day. There are several hikes near Evergreen to enjoy. As well, the lake is very accessible from town, so you can walk in, enjoy lunch or coffee, then hike back out.
  • TIP: Listen for Elk in the Fall: On our most recent trip to Evergreen Lake, a bull elk was bugling. So, if you just don't have time to make it up to Estes Park, this is a great backup.
  • Trail Map for Evergreen Lake Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Beau Jo’s Pizza

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maxwell falls with waterfall and hikers above and at the base of the waterfall

Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen, Colorado

The Maxwell Falls hike is our most popular hike near Denver. Why? Because it's a perfect Colorado family hike with a variety of terrain, and the it takes you to one of the closest waterfalls to Denver. Below you'll find three different hike options: a one mile hike, a three mile loop, and a four mile trek--all taking you to Maxwell falls.

In the last few years, Maxwell Falls has become one of the most popular destination hikes near Denver, and it's having a negative impact. In other words, Maxwell Falls is being loved to death. Please read through the orange box for some of the basic trail etiquette that will help protect this beautiful place.

Trail Snapshot: Maxwell Falls Hike

When we were moving to Denver, we were looking for a great house and for great hikes, and our favorite hikes end with a waterfall. Waterfalls close to Denver, Colorado don't have a lot of wow-factor, but they make great for great destination hikes. There are 3 ways to hike to Maxwell falls. Our favorite is the Cliff Trail loop because it gives you the falls a reward at the end. The falls are more of a series cascades, but are worth the hike. If you want to explore more waterfalls near Denver, check out our Waterfall Hikes Near Denver page.

Hike Options for Maxwell Falls Trails.

1. The Short Version:

Less than 1 mile round trip - Begin at the Upper Trailhead and follow the signs to the falls. It's just under half a mile, one way.

2. The Cliff Trail Loop:

3 Miles - Start at the upper trailhead lot. The trail will split a couple times and you'll want to bear left, following the signs that point you down the Cliff Trail. You'll climb a bit to a rock promontory that gives you beautiful views of the valley below. You will begin a descent to the creek bed, then the trail will turn and head upstream. Follow it until you hear the falls. After the falls, follow the trail back up to the upper lot.

maxwell-falls-hiking-with-kids

3. Lower Maxwell Falls Hike

- 4 Miles Round Trip - Begin at the lower parking area and hike up the valley and along Maxwell Creek for about 2 miles. About 1.7 miles along the trail, you'll cross to the other side of the creek. Shortly after that, you'll hear the falls. Return the same way you came.

We've had some inquiries about whether or not there is camping at Maxwell Falls. Because this area gets so much traffic, we recommend camping elsewhere. It is permissible to camp on USFS land, but it's important to take into consideration our impact, and the Maxwell Falls area is getting loved to death. I'd recommend checking out Reserve America for other camping ideas.

So, strap on your hiking boots, grab a picnic lunch and your trekking poles, then hit the trail to Maxwell Falls.

Help Care for Maxwell Falls Area

Maxwell Falls and the surrounding trails get an incredible amount of traffic, and in recent years, hikers have really harmed the area. So, during your visit (and as always), follow Leave No Trace principles and the following:

  • Pick up trash on your hike (especially your own). There is no trash service at this trailhead.
  • Pack out dog droppings
  • Keep Dogs on a Leash
  • No fires or digging fire-pits. Fires pose an extreme danger to nearby residents.
  • If parking is full, come back later, or find a different hike. Roadside parking is causing erosion and safety hazards.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Maxwell Falls:

  • TIP: This trail gets a ton of use, so make an effort to pick up a few pieces of trash while you are making your trek to the falls.
  • TIP: Be on alert for the signage. It's easy to miss, and sometimes in disrepair. I'd recommend reading through the comments section below for details.
  • After the Hike: Beaujos Pizza in Evergreen
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions

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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.


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

Bear Creek Trail at Lair o' the Bear Park

Lair o' the Bear is, in our family's opinion, the best family hike near Denver. First, the drive into the canyon on Bear Creek road is beautiful. Once at the park you'll find great hiking trail options, the cool water of bear creek, great parking, and some good picnic spots. There are open areas as well as shade. Our one big suggestion is to keep your kiddos close to you on the busier trail segments as this is also a mountain biking mecca. Explore the details below in our profile of this Jefferson County, Colorado park.

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

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

lair-of-the-bear-fishing

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

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

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ofallon park trails header

O Fallon Park Trails

hese hiking trails near Evergreen, Colorado weave through the Bear Creek area in O'Fallon Park. It's a great place to launch into the Bear Creek Canyon area. Because there are a lot of options, be sure to download the trail map and look over the five different trail options listed below in the hike profile. Scroll down for the full O'Fallon Park Trails profile and to find driving directions, pdf map, and full trail details.

Trail Snapshot: O'Fallon Park Trails

ofallon park trailhead

O'Fallon Park is part of a series of Jefferson County and Denver Mountain Parks that are connected by Bear Creek and the Bear Creek Trail. Quartz riddles the trails and butterflies alight on flowers along the five trails that weave through the park. The O'Fallon Park picnic area is right beside Bear Creek and plenty of shade provided by the Ponderosa Pines that cover it.

Fishing at O'Fallon Park may get you some rainbow and brown trout!

ofallon park trail picnic area

Trails at O'Fallon Park

1- Meadow View Loop (2.5 miles): We actually hiked this as an out-and-back from the lot up to the vista. Great views up there, but be ready for a steady gain in elevation. It's some work, but it's worth it.

2- Panorama Point - (1.3 miles out-and-back)

3-West Ridge Loop - (3 miles)

4- Picnic Loop (1.3 miles): Stays closer to the picnic areas and makes for a nice easy walk with the family before or after lunch.

5-Bear Creek Trail - This trail runs 7 miles from Pence Park parking lot to the Lair o' the Bear Park lot. Medium in difficulty and a mountain biking mecca.

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

Tips & Resources for Hiking O'Fallon Park Trails :

  • TIP: This is another park that can fill quickly on the weekends, but it's mainly the picnic areas. It's not necessary to go early, but it's not a bad idea.
  • TIP: Keep alert for mountain bikers, especially on the Bear Creek Trail. Most of the other trails are hiker only.
  • TIP: Bring a picnic breakfast or lunch.
  • O'Fallon Park Trail Map: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Beau Jo’s Pizza

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rock formation with pine trees at alderfer 3 sisters park in evergreen colorado

Alderfer and Three Sisters Park

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

Trail Snapshot: Alderfer and Three Sisters Park

Alderfer Three Sisters Park has an East and West Trailhead.

Alderfer and Three Sisters Park has everything from short, pleasant strolls for the family to more strenuous climbs and a long loop hike.

Some Hike Options at Alderfer and Three Sisters Park

A Short Family Like:

The Wild Iris Loop (.6 mile loop) is a tame stroll through mountain meadows and can be easily accessed from the west parking lot.

Two hikes that are more strenuous

will take hikers to summit views: Evergreen Mountain East Trail, and the Sisters Trail. The Sisters trail may be the most difficult and most enjoyable in the park. The trail takes you up through three, unusual rock outcroppings and to views down into the quaint town of Evergreen.

A 10+ mile loop hike

can be created by hiking the trails that follow the outer rim of the park. Because the park has so many trails, it's advisable to download the Alderfer Three Sisters Park Map (see link in the above trail snapshot). There are so many options that you'll find it easy to create a hike custom to your visit.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Alderfer and Three Sisters Park:

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