two women sitting on rock along clear creek trail in golden colorado with bridge in background and green trees

Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

Want a hike to please everyone?The Clear Creek Trail in Golden, Colorado is it! It's got shade, the kids can bring their bikes, and you can finish your hike with a stroll around downtown. We might get some flack for calling this a hike, because it runs through the business district of Golden, CO.But you can wear the soles of your shoes down on this one. Jefferson County even has plans to expand the trail several miles into Clear Creek Canyon. Explore the full trail profile for all the details: hiking trails, trail map, and detailed directions to the trailhead.

Trail Snapshot:Clear Creek Trail in Downtown Golden

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

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.

echo-lake-colorado-morning
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
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

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

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


red rock formations with pine tree in foreground above fountain valley trail in roxborough state park near denver

Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park

The Fountain Valley trail in Colorado's Roxborough State Park is the Garden of the God's of Denver. It's more secluded than Red Rocks park, and features several trails that take you beyond the park boundaries and into the foothills. The Fountain Valley Trail is a perfect place to start because it features the best part of the park, it's towering slabs of red rock. Explore the hiking profile below for all the trail details, trail map link, and driving directions to the trailhead for this easy Colorado hike.

Trail Snapshot: Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park is Denver's twin sister of Garden of the God's in Colorado Springs. The beautiful Lyons and Fountain formations climb from the valley floor and create a wonderful space for a quiet hike, birdwatching, and viewing wildlife.

The trail is a loop. You can start on the valley floor, then work your way up to the high trail that looks down and across the fountain formation (photo above was taken from around the midpoint of the high trail). On our visit we encountered several whitetail deer and a variety of birds flitting about in the scrub oak that grows in the valley. The initial part of the trail are handicap accessible, but the trail soon becomes a more narrow dirt trail.

There are some ruins of an old estate along the trail and interpretive signs telling about the history of the valley. We would recommend this trail for families with small children and especially for folks visiting Denver and looking for something fun to do. The low elevation is great for out of towners who may not have the time or capacity to get up into the mountains. Dogs are not permitted, so be sure to leave fido at home. Because this trail is in Roxborough State Park, a fee or Colorado state parks pass is required. See the Roxborough State Park Fees page for details.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park :

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


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.

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

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


young hiker standing on trail with red rock formations and foothills in background in south valley park hike near littleton colorado

South Valley Park Trails

The trails of South Valley Park are perfect for an after work hike or run in South Denver. The expansive valley near the neighborhood of Ken Caryl is enclosed on its eastern side by the exposed red rock formations of the hogback and the green foothills to the west. Views to the south are incredible, making South Valley Park especially enchanting during the early morning hours and at twilight.. Explore the full hiking profile below for full trail details, driving directions and more.

Trail Snapshot: South Valley Park Trails

Red Rock towers along the eastern wall of South Valley Park and the foothills begin to the west. Almost 1000 acres of meadow and rock offer a near perfect escape from the sounds of the city. The time lapse below shows a great example of a South Valley Park sunrise.

south valley park trails coyote song trailhead

6 Trails wind through the park. The best place to start is with the South Valley Park Coyote Song Trail. It's a an out an back trail that takes you right through the main meadow. It also connects with the Swallow Trail to form a loop, making your hike about 1.8 miles. The Lyons Back Trail takes you from the Coyote Song Trail and up over the red rock where you can hike trails developed by the Ken-Caryl Ranch foundation.

Tips & Resources for Hiking South Valley Park Trails :

  • Don't miss the Coyote Song Trail: The sunsets are wonderful and the park tends to be quiet in the evenings. The Coyote Song Trail is a great way to begin or wind down the day.
  • TIP: The Parking area on our map link is the larger of the two. However, you can also begin at the south lot off of Deer Creek Canyon Road. Click here for directions. This gives you a closer connection to the Elk Grazing Trail (seasonal) area and Deer Creek Canyon Park.
  • TIP: The red rock calls to be climbed, but climbing is prohibited in this park.
  • South Valley Park Trail Map: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Atlas Coffee in Littleton

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