red rock tower in snow at roxborough state park in colorado best winter hikes near denver

Top 10 Winter Hikes

Winter hikes near Denver often lead up snow-covered trails with the blue skies that seem to stretch on to forever. The trails we've chosen for this set of top 10 winter hikes keep you close to Denver, are easy or moderately demanding, and explore a variety of landscapes. Because Winter weather in Colorado is both breathtaking and unpredictable, it's critical that hikers embark on their adventures well-prepared. So, before you lace up your boots and hit the trail, be sure to download and review our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes. Additionally, take some time to review our 10 Winter Hiking Tips.

    Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

  • Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

  • Distance: 1.5-Mile Round Trip & 4-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes

    Spruce Mountain near Larkspur is a tall butte that can be hiked via both an out-and-back trail, and a loop option that traces the outer rim. Both of these offer panoramas of rolling green hills and some of the best views of Pikes Peak in Douglas County.

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    Elk Meadow Park – South Loop Hike

  • Elk Meadow Park – South Loop Hike

  • Distance: 2.6 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 35 Minutes

    Elk Meadow Park is a family friendly place to hike just outside of beautiful Evergreen, Colorado. This short loop hike takes you through some beautiful winter landscapes, by huge ponderosa pines, and a chance to see the elk that gather and browse in the valley.

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    Hikes at Red Rocks Park

  • Hikes at Red Rocks Park

  • Distance: 6 Miles Round Trip and 1.4-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 to 30 Minutes

    Red Rocks Park can be hiked on two different trails. Wander through the meadows of the Red Rocks Trail for more expansive views of this unique area, or take the Trading Post trail through a valley of impressive Red Rock formations. You can't beat the proximity to Denver at this historic landmark just west of the city.

    Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

  • Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

  • Distance: 2.3-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes

    This winter hike is just a short drive from Denver and will offer you views from one of Denver's most famous foothill mountains. From up on Mt. Falcon, you can take in Colorado’s snow-flanked Front Range, and views of Denver stretched out below.

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    South Valley Park Trails

  • South Valley Park Trails

  • Distance: 0.5 mile to 3 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    The South Valley Park is another great choice for hiking during winter in South Denver. The valley is located near the Ken Caryl neighborhood, tucked away behind the hogbacks and enclosed by red rock formations. When the snow falls, the surrounding sounds of the city soften and this valley transforms into a walk back in time.

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    cherry creek flowing through winter landscape of castlewood canyon winter hike near denver

  • Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails

  • Distance: 1/4 Mile to 4 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes

    Castlewood Canyon State Park is hidden away in the plains near Castle Rock and Parker. Because it's out east and off the beaten path, it's an often overlooks. When it snows, the canyon becomes a great place to look for animal tracks and to take in the sounds of snow-covered Cherry Creek as it trickles alongside the path. The trails feature: a waterfall, stream, homestead ruins, caves and clefts. Explore the different trails we've profiled in Castlewood Canyon State Park:

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    Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 3.6 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

    This hike is a classic! And you're likely going to need snowshoes for this one. You'll weave past three lakes to a jaw-dropping view of frozen Emerald Lake and Hallet Peak. The best place to rent snowshoes is at the Estes Park Mountain Shop.

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    red rock formation in snow at roxborough state park colorado winter hike

  • Hikes in Roxborough State Park

  • Distance: 2.3 to 6.2 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    The contrast of massive red rock formations against the soft, white snow makes winter hikes in Roxborough feel like a walk through a enchanted wonderland. Check out the list of Roxborough State Park Trails we've profiled below. Take note that State Park fee is required and that pets are prohibited in the park.

    Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Distance: 4.9-Mile Lollipop Loop

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 Minutes

    Mt. Galbraith near Golden, Colorado has spectacular views into two canyons and into the city of Golden. The trail is about a 25-minute drive from Denver, and it makes for a quick escape from the busyness of urban life to breathe in the fresh air of the foothills. This trail is another great hike for winter and is perfect for avid hikers but still accessible to beginners. It's gotten quite popular, so we suggest you hike this trail early in the morning or on a weekday.

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    Dream Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Dream Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Distance: 2.2 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

With scenery straight out of a storybook, the hike to Dream Lake is one of the best known hikes in RMNP. Because it gets a lot of foot traffic, the path from Bear Lake to Dream Lake is packed down and easily discernible, but be sure to check with a ranger at Bear Lake before making this short hike, because after even a moderate snowfall, you may need snowshoes. We recommend renting snowshoes at the Estes Park Mountain Shop.

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Photo Credits: Thanks goes out to Adam Meek for his winter photo of Roxborough State Park. And to Jack for his photo of Castlewood Canyon.


hiker with dog at sunrise top 10 dog friendly hikes near denver

Top 10 Dog Hikes Near Denver

Where can you hike with your dog near Denver? The truth is that you can take your dog with you on most trails near Denver--but there are exceptions. And there are some trails that require scrambles or have surfaces that just are not well suited for your dogs paws. So, we have used the following criteria for selecting this Top 10 list of dog friendly trails.
#1 Dogs are allowed
#2 We got feedback from our Black Lab, Francine. She's confident that your dog will love them.
#3 They are within 30-45 minutes of Denver

To Leash or Not to Leash? It should be noted that all these hikes require our dogs to be on a leash unless otherwise indicated. This is essential for the safety of others, the health of the environment, and so that dogs don't get banned from these great places. Finally, we love to keep this list updated, so send us your comments and emails to let us know if you have any votes and ideas on more dog-friendly trails you'd like us to profile. Use the table below as table of contents to find a dog friendly hike that best matches your preferences.

    Elk Meadow Park South Loop

  • Elk Meadow Park – South Loop

  • Distance: 2.6 miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 35 Minutes

    Elk Meadow Park is a wonderful place to go hiking with your family, if you have your kids with you, or if you just want to spend time with a friend as you hike and bask in the spectacular views of Colorado. There was a great off-leash area nearby, but this has been closed for restoration.

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    Mt. Sanitas Hike Near Boulder

  • Mt. Sanitas Hike Near Boulder

  • Distance: 3.1 Miles or 2 Miles

    Difficulty: Medium+ with Easier Options

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    Mt. Sanitas gives you several trail options ranging from an easy stroll along a meandering brook to a demanding trail up the mountainside. Explore the full trail profile for more detailed information.

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    Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Distance: 6 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Medium

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 Minutes

    The Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks park gives you a chance to wander through the meadows just east of the imposing red monoliths that this Denver Mountain Park is named after. Close to Denver, the Red Rocks Trail is great for a sunrise hike, an inspiring trail run or a challenging bike ride. There’s more: a cave carved into the sandstone a great geological overlook.

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    South Valley Park Trails

  • South Valley Park Trails

  • Distance: .5 Mile to 3 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    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.

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    White Ranch Sunset Loop Near Golden, Colorado

  • White Ranch Sunset Loop Near Golden, Colorado

  • Distance: 2 miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Medium

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    This loop hike in White Ranch Park is a great escape, a place to watch the glow of twilight on the city of Denver as the sun sets in the West. This Colorado trail is set at the very beginning of the foothills. You’ll journey across a tranquil meadow punctuated with ponderosa pine and decorated with Spring and early Summer wildflowers.

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    Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

    Distance: 4.9 Miles

    Difficulty: Medium

    Drive Time from Denver: Approx. 30 Minutes

    Hiking Mt. Galbraith near Golden, Colorado will spoil you with its views into two canyons and into the City of Golden. Mount Galbraith is about 25 minutes from downtown Denver, so it makes for a quick escape from the bustle of life in town to take in the fresh air of the foothills.

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    Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Distance: 2.5 miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes

    Our kids loved this 2.5 mile Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The trail has a lot of shade, panoramic views of snowcapped peaks, wildflowers, and trickling brooks.

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    Davis Ponds Hike at Staunton State Park

  • Davis Ponds Hike at Staunton State Park

  • Distance: 2.15 Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    The Davis Ponds loop is a short and easy hike, perfect for young families. Davis Ponds is a great place to take your kids fishing near Denver.

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    Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear Park

  • Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear Park

  • Distance: 1.7 miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    The Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear Park may be the best family hike near Denver. The park features great hiking trails, Bear Creek, and some good picnic areas. Even the drive along the way into the canyon on Bear Creek Road is wonderful.

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    Alderfer and Three Sisters Park Hikes

  • Alderfer and Three Sisters Park Hikes

  • Distance: 18 Trails: .2 to 10+ Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes

    Alderfer and Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, Colorado is a great collection of many trails that it could get confusing without a map. However, this is a family favorite of some good friends of ours. The trails come with different choices: from short, casual strolls to more demanding climbs and a long loop hike.

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


dirt road with changing aspen trees and mountain in background top 10 fall hikes near denver top 10 fall hikes near denver

Top 10 Fall Hikes Near Denver with Aspens

Enjoy the Fall Colors of Colorado with these Trails near Denver with Changing Aspens

Where can you find hikes near Denver to view the changing aspens and fall colors? We've looked through all our hiking profiles to identify trails near Denver that are decorated with glowing aspens in the Fall. Some of these Autumn Colorado hikes have spectacular drives to the trailhead. Because some of the hikes closer to Denver are just so-so (it takes driving further into the mountains to get the best views of the Aspens), I'll identify some of the best hikes to see the Fall colors near Denver here. Be sure to download our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes near Denver.

When do Aspens Change in Colorado? Hiking at the Right Time.

September is the best time of the year to see the changing aspens in Colorado, particularly during the 3rd and 4th weeks when they hit their peak splendor of golds, oranges, reds. Aspens change color in response to the changing temperatures in the Rocky Mountains, so it can vary a bit year-to-year and in different regions of the state. A good rule of thumb is to plan your hikes and drives to take in Fall colors during mid-September through mid-October. Near Denver, the temperatures tend to be warmer, so aspens will change later along the Front Range and earlier up in the mountains.

Top Fall Hikes Near Denver: Our Favorite Hikes

    Sprague Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Sprague Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 1/2-Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

    Let's start with an easy hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Sprague Lake loop offers an 1/2 mile loop hike with 360 degree breathtaking views of the changing aspens mirrored in face of the water and leaden grey peaks in the distance. It's a two-hour drive from Denver, and requires a park pass, but it's worth it. Parking is limited at the lake, but a shuttle runs to the trailhead. See our full trail profile for all the details.

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    Devil's Head Firetower Hike

  • Devil's Head Firetower Hike

  • Distance: 2.8 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

    Here's why you need to do this hike in the fall season: 1) The drive there will take you up Rampart Range road which should be gilded with changing Aspens, 2) When you get to the top of Devil's Head, you'll gain 360 degree views that will let you drink in the colors from for miles and miles. I love to make this hike in the early morning as the sun is rising and lighting up the spires along the spine of the Rampart Range.

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    Elk Falls Overlook at Staunton State Park

  • Elk Falls Overlook at Staunton State Park

  • Distance: 11 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    This may be the most challenging hike in this list of fall hiking trails. Elk Falls was hidden for years on private land and recently opened to the public at Staunton State Park. This entire area near both Guanella Pass and Hoosier pass is amazing in the fall. After the hike, there are options to drive further out 285 to Hoosier Pass or to take the seasonal road up Guanella pass. The great thing about Stuanton State Park is that you have other options, too: shorter easy strolls with aspen meadows and towering pines, and more moderate hikes through the heart of the park. Scan the rock cliffs and mountainsides to see if you can get a glimpse of the occasional aspen tree turning red.

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    Raccoon Loop at Golden Gate Canyon

  • Raccoon Loop at Golden Gate Canyon

  • Distance: 2.5 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour

    Our family loves this 2.5 mile hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. There are panoramic views of the Front Range all lit up with gold and green at the Panorama Point viewing area. It's not like Kenosha Pass (see below), but it's still beautiful and closer to Denver. The Raccoon Loop hike weaves through meadows of changing aspens, past seasonal creeks, and through pine forest. The drive from Golden to the park takes you along a really curvy road, so take your time and be aware for cyclists.

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    aspen trees yellow orange gold at rocky mountain national park colorado with stone mountain in background fall hikes near denver


    Mt. Bierstadt Hike on Guanella Pass

  • Mt. Bierstadt Hike on Guanella Pass

  • Distance: 1 to 7 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Difficult

    Drive Time from Denver: 90 Minutes

    This drive to Guanaella Pass and hike are both breathtaking when the aspens are turning in the fall. We suggest starting on the north end (I-70 end) and to make your way south over Guanella pass. You can stop here and hike a length of the Mt. Beirstadt Trail, taking a short stroll in the high country, or making the more adventurous hike to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt (be sure to prepare for this as you would any summit trip to a fourteener--it's not a walk in the park). Continuing over Guanella pass, hikers can drive further to Kenosha Pass, which may be the most best place to view the changing aspens near Denver. When Guanella Pass road intersects with 285, a right turn (west) leads to Kenosha Pass. See below for more hike details on Kenosha Pass.

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    kenosha pass moose

  • Kenosha Pass Hike: Resplendent with Aspens

  • Distance: A Short Stroll, or a 6 mile to 8.2 Mile Options

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minute

    Kenosha Pass may be the best place to soak in the miles upon miles and mountains behind mountains of golden aspens in the Fall. The trail that runs on both sides of 285 is easy to moderate, and because it is part of the Colorado Trail system, it seems to go on forever. Most families hike in a short distance, but we recommend pushing further beyond the congested trail segments to higher points where you'll break out to views of South Park below and the Ten Mile Range of the Rocky Mountains.

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    Butler Gulch Hike Near Berthoud Falls

  • Butler Gulch Hike Near Berthoud Falls

  • Distance: Up to 5 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour

    The Butler Gulch Trail near Jones Pass is a "get into the mountains" hike. About an hour from Denver and you're completely surrounded by mountains. The trail gains altitude fast and the ridgeline offers incredible views for miles of Colorado's fall colors. Hike a bit further to gain a higher ridge marking the continental divide for a 360 degree panorama of gilded high-country. The parking area is just past the Henderson Mine and will be busy this time of year, so be sure to arrive early to get a parking space at the trailhead.

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    Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance: 5.4 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

    Aspens + Mountain Streams + Cascades + a Waterfall = A great Fall Colorado experience. Before reaching this 40-foot falls, this fall hike traces the course of a number of creeks and takes hikers past three other cascade waterfalls. Ouzel Falls is probably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park, an arched stream of water spilling from the cliffside. Explore the full trail profile for parking details, trail map info, and tips for this hike in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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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.


    Diamond Lake Hike

  • Diamond Lake Hike

  • Distance: 5 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

    This hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness leads to a high mountain lake surrounded by multiple peaks. In the Summer, this area is adorned with wildflowers that give way to the splendor of gold and red aspens in the Fall. Hikers pass a waterfall and an old mine site on the way to Diamond Lake. The 4th of July Trailhead fills up very early, so we recommend arriving before 7AM on the weekends in the Fall.

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    Herman Gulch Hike Near Idaho Springs

  • Herman Gulch Hike Near Idaho Springs

Distance: 5 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour

Herman Gulch Hike near Silver Plume is a more demanding hike that leads into the heart of the Front Range. The canyon has spectacular views of Clear Creek, mountain peaks and the Loveland ski area. The trail leads back to a high-mountain lake underneath Pettingell Peak. Aside from being a wonderful fall hike, this is another great place for snowshoeing and skiing activities during winter.

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girl hiker in green hat pointing direction along mountain trail easy beginner hikes near denver

10 Easy Beginner Hikes

Are you looking for hikes close to Denver that are easy for beginners? There are so many options to choose from for those just getting started hiking. We've narrowed down the top 10 easy hikes for those of you who may be either new to hiking or who are hoping to experience some beautiful scenery without a lot of hard work. These are ordered in general order of difficulty so that new hikers can build up their strength as they finish each one on the list. Be sure to download our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes.

    Meadow & Forest Loop Trails at Lookout Mountain Nature Center

  • Meadow & Forest Loop Trails at Lookout Mountain Nature Center

  • Distance: 0.6 & 0.8 Mile Loops

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    Lookout Mountain Park has two loop easy trails that wind through the ponderosa pines in the foothills above Golden, Colorado. Combine the loops for a longer hike. You'll find this to be a great place to take young children who may be new to hiking. The Nature Center at Lookout Mountain Park is a great place to learn about the environment and wildlife near Denver. If you want to make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch, then take a self-guided tour of the nearby historic Boettcher Mansion. We placed this one as first on the list because it's easiest for families with kids. For adults, you may want to jump straight to number two, the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park.

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    Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

  • Distance: 1.4 Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    The Trading Post trail is my #1 recommended hike for those who are getting started with hiking in Denver. It's also my top hike for those who are visiting Denver from out of town. Why? It's just 25 minutes from the city center, is relatively a flat hike, you have red rock formations surrounding you the entire time, and you have more options after the hike. So, if you find that after hiking the loop once, you would like more of a challenge you can: hike it again, hike up into the amphitheater, or try out the nearby Red Rocks Trail.

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    Waterton Canyon Hike

  • Waterton Canyon Hike

  • Distance: 6.2-Mile trail to the Strontia Springs Dam, or 12.4 Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 35 Minutes

    Waterton Canyon is a perfect next step in difficulty. The trail is actually a dirt access road that weaves its way through the canyon up to Strontia Springs Reservoir. The reason I put this third on the list is that it gets increasingly steep as you go further into the canyon, but it never gets demanding. You can go as far as you feel like your legs can take you, then turn around when you've seen enough. It's an inviting path that always beckons you to got a bit further to discover what's beyond the next bend. The South Platte River flows on the southern side of the trail and wildlife can be spotted on the mountainsides and skies above. Be sure to pack the sunscreen and bring a hat as Waterton Canyon leaves you exposed to a lot of sun.

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    above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge hike finder


    South Valley Park Trails

  • South Valley Park Trails

  • Distance: 0.5 Mile to 3 Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 30 Minutes

    Our fourth recommendation is one of my personal favorites. South Valley Park is hidden behind the hogbacks in Littleton, Colorado. There are 6 trails that make their way through the Red Rock formations in South Valley, giving you a lot of options. All trails are easy to moderate, making South Valley a perfect place for beginner hikers. Don't miss the Coyote Song trail.

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    Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park

  • Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park

  • Distance: 2.3-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes

    The Fountain Valley Trail is so stunning that you might just forget any aches and pains you've earned from your initial hikes. While both Red Rocks Park and South Valley have some great formations, the most spectacular are found here in Roxborough State Park. Roxborough does require either a parks pass or day pass for access, and no dogs are allowed in the park. If you still have some energy in you after hiking through Fountain Valley, you can explore some of the other areas on the south end of the park.

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    Alderfer and Three Sisters Park Hikes

  • Alderfer and Three Sisters Park Hikes

  • Distance: 18 Trails: 0.2 to 10+ Miles

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes

    Alderfer and Three Sisters Park has over 10 miles of trails that provide you with a good opportunity to take your game up a notch. There are no real demanding trails, but you'll find some rises enough to push you more than the earlier hikes in this set. With so many intersecting trails and so many beautiful views, Alderfer provides an open field of possibilities. This is a perfect park for those who are in a transitional place with their hiking.

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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


    Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

  • Distance: 4.9-Mile Lollipop

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 25 Minutes

    Mt. Galbraith is the first hike in this set with some elevation gain. The first couple segments of this lollipop loop hike outside Golden, Colorado will require more effort, but the views are worth it. Mt. Galbraith has become heavily traveled on the weekends, so the parking area fills up fast. If you find that the lot is full, travel a few miles further down the road to White Ranch Park to hike a loop we've profiled called the sunset loop.

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    Monarch Lake Loop Hike

  • Monarch Lake Loop Hike

  • Distance: 4 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours 50 Minutes

    The first seven hikes in this easy beginner hikes set are within about 45 minutes of Denver, but Monarch Lake is a good three hour drive. We've included it in this set for those of you who are looking to make a day of it. The drive out to Monarch Lake take you over Berthoud Pass, through Winter Park, and into the western side of the Front Range. The like is relatively level and offers views of the mountains that will take your breath away. The dirt access road can get a bit wearing, so be prepared for the drive in--2WD works just fine most of the year. This is a great family hike, and a makes for a great day exploring from friends who may be visiting from out-of-town.

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    Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Raccoon Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

  • Distance: 2.5-Mile Loop

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour

    The Raccoon Loop will expose you to the heart of Golden Gate Canyon State Park, located about 1 hour from Denver. There are a myriad of hiking trails in the park, and this is a great place to start. There trail rambles through Aspen laden meadows and along mountain brooks. Hikers will encounter a variety of wildflowers, like pink lady slippers, and spot raptors flying above the green and grey faces of the surrounding foothills.

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    Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Distance: 3.6 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours

If you were to take just one hike in Rocky Mountain National park--one that's not too demanding--then the hike up to Emerald Lake is tops. You'll pass cascades and three other sub-alpine lakes along the way to Emerald. The hike turns into a perfect snowshoeing opportunity in the winter months. By the time you've completed the hikes previous in this list, you've likely built both some muscle and stamina. And you may be ready for more. So, be sure to check out our full list of over 50 hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.


baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes



two hikers with dog on trail in staunton state park colorado with ponderosa pine trees in foreground and pikes peak in background

Hikes Near Denver - Our Top 10 Favorite Hikes

Where are the best places to hike near Denver? Over the years we've profiled over 140 hikes, and I'll tell you that it's hard to pick favorites--but we did. Below you'll find ten of our favorite hikes near Denver. Actually, we cheated a bit. We've included some parks and trail networks, so some include two or more hikes. These are hikes near Denver that we often recommend to friends new to hiking or who are visiting Denver. Some are just a few miles out of town, and others require a drive deep into the mountains.

Our Favorite Hikes Near Denver

Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park - Wildest Hikes Near Denver

  • Distance: 0.5 to 12+ miles
    Drive Time from Denver: 90 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
    The Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park is situated south of Estes Park and just north of Indian Peaks Wilderness area. The Wild Basin offers some short waterfall hikes and longer more demanding hikes up to secluded mountain lakes. Copeland Falls can be found about 1/2 mile up the main trail, but most hikers journey beyond to Calyspso Cascades which makes for a 3.6 mile round trip journey. Hike further into the Wild Basin to find yet another waterfall crashing over a granite cliff face, Ouzel Falls. In the Wild Basin trail network, hikers will find sub-alpine lakes such as Bluebird Lake (12 miles round trip) and Pear Lake (9 miles round trip). Follow each of the links above to get trail maps, trailhead information, and more detailed trail descriptions.

    Chautauqua Park in Boulder

  • Chautauqua Park in Boulder - Most Hike Options Near Denver

  • Distance: 0.5 mile stroll to 5.5 mile demanding hike
    Drive Time from Denver: 40 minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
    Chautauqua Park, in downtown Boulder, hosts dozens of trail options. It's probably the best trail system within a city limits on Colorado's Front Range. Hike one of the many trails to soak in the views of the Flatiron formations that make this park famous, then grab lunch or a coffee at one of Boulder's downtown restaurants.

    One of my favorite hike destinations near Denver is the alcove hidden behind First and Second Flatiron. You can access the full trail profile here for photos and more details: First and Second Flatiron Trail. The Royal Arch Trail has been rehabilitated since the 2013 floods and takes hikers underneath a massive granite arch that towers over the trail. The Enchanted Mesa Loop is less demanding, taking hikers through pine forest and offering more expansive views. Finally, for a more demanding hike to 360 views of Boulder and snowcapped mountains in the west, the hike up to the top of Green Mountain proves to be both a strenuous workout and a great place to kick up your feet and take in the views.

    Staunton State Park Trails

  • Staunton State Park - Best Waterfall Hike Near Denver

  • Distance: 2.15 or 10.8
    Drive Time from Denver: 40 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
    Staunton State Park is just 40 minutes outside of Denver. It's Colorado's newest State Park and boasts miles of trails, myriads of climbing routes, great mountain biking, and the highest waterfall near Denver. However, there are two worth noting if you are looking to hike in Staunton. The hike out to the Elk Falls overlook is a demanding 10.8 mile loop. And a new 12-mile trail takes hikers closer to the base of the falls.

    For a more accessible family hike, check out The Davis Ponds Loop. It's a great place for kids to learn to fish and a perfect spot for a picnic.


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    West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Rocky Mountain National Park - Deeper in the Mountain Hikes Near Denver

  • Distance: .6 to 10.2 + other trails available
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours
    Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
    If you are looking to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park and would like to avoid the busy east side, the western side of RMNP, near Grand Lake, offers miles upon miles of trails. There are miles upon miles of trails leading out of the Green Mountain, East Inlet and North Inlet trailheads. However, it's a solid 2 hour drive if things are moving on I-70. Here we'll recommend just three hikes: a short waterfall hike, a longer hike to a slide waterfall, and a lake loop hike.

    Adams Falls is one of the more accessible waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. It's just over 1/2 mile round trip. Beyond Adams Falls, the trail opens to a wide valley of tall grass and meandering stream.

    The hike to Granite Falls is a longer 10.2 mile round-trip hike to a slide waterfall.

    A third option is actually just outside on the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park at Monarch Lake. The Monarch Lake Loop Trail takes hikers through forest, across small creeks, and around the borders of Monarch Lake. The mountain upon mountain views make it worth the drive.

    Red Rocks Park in Morrison

  • Red Rocks Park - Closest Hikes to Denver

  • Distance: 1.4 or 6 miles
    Drive Time from Denver: 25 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Red Rocks Park is home of the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater and some great hiking trails. When visitors to Denver are looking for a trail close to the city, my top recommendation is always the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks. It's a 1.4 mile loop surrounded by red rock formations. In the Spring and early Summer, the clash of reds and greens makes this the best short hike near Denver. While the Trading Post Trail is a short and easy hike, the shaded sections can get icy in the winter, so be sure to mind the trail. Explore the full trail profile with more details and resources at our Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks trail profile.

    A second hike option is the Red Rocks trail. It's is a 6 mile lollipop loop that leads hikers north towards Matthew Winters Park to views of the Dakota Hogback. Explore the full trail profile for the Red Rocks Trail here: Red Rocks Loop Trail.

    There are many other hikes near Denver that feature red rock formations. To explore more, be sure to check out our Hikes with Red Rock Formations page.

    Rocky Mountain National Park - East Side

  • Rocky Mountain National Park - East Side - Alpine Hikes Near Denver

  • Distance: 5.4, 6.4, and 8 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 hours
    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
    The Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park is popular for good reason. We've selected just three hikes to feature in this list, but you'll find many more on our Rocky Mountain National Park Trails page. If you're into waterfalls, you'll want to explore our Top 10 Waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park page, too.

    The first hike in this set is a loop hike that takes hikers past four high mountain lakes and a waterfall. It's a 6.4 mile trip that begins at the Bear Lake trailhead. For driving directions, waypoints, and a full trail description, see our Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop trail profile.

    The second trail begins at the Fern Lake Trailhead and leads up to an incredible cascade waterfall, Fern Falls. This is a 5.4 mile, out-and-back adventure with about 650 feet of elevation gain. Before arriving at Fern Falls, the trail passes through Arch Rocks and crosses a bridge that spans a landmark known as The Pool. Hikers who are up for a more demanding trek can make their way further up the trail to Fern Lake. For map, driving directions, parking info, and trail tips, visit our full trail profile for Fern Falls.

    The third hike in our list for the East side of Rocky Mountain National Park is the hike up to Timberline Falls. It's a demanding 8 mile round-trip, out-and-back hike with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. This beautiful segmented waterfall cuts through the winter snowpack in late Spring cascading down the mountainside. The trail goes beyond Timberline Falls and higher up to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond--both are breathtaking locations. Read through the full trail profile for Timberline Falls here.

    It should be noted that dogs are prohibited in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers will find the National Geographic Rocky Mountain National Park Topographic Map a necessary resource for the trails in RMNP.

    Waterton Canyon South of Littleton

  • Waterton Canyon Trail - Canyon Hike Near Denver

  • Distance: 1 mile to 12.4 round trip.
    Drive Time from Denver: 35 minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Waterton Canyon is a classic Denver Hike that follows a winding dirt road 6.2 miles up to the Strontia Springs Dam. There are picnic spots all along the way and a lot of wildlife to be seen. Unlike many of the trailheads in the Denver area, Waterton has ample parking. Because Denver Water uses this trail as an access road to its reservoirs, the trail is actually a wide, dirt road, making it perfect for handling both hikers and mountain bikers. However, I've found it to be a quiet spot for a late afternoon picnic, especially on a weekday. No dogs are allowed in Waterton Canyon in order to protect the Bighorn Sheep population. Get the details on this hike at our Waterton Canyon Trail profile page.

    baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

    Castlewood Canyon State Park

  • Castlewood Canyon State Park - Hidden Hikes Near Denver

  • Distance: 1/8th mile to 4 mile trail options
    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    Castlewood Canyon State Park is tucked away in the rolling grasslands just east of Castle Rock, Colorado. Cherry Creek flows through the center of the canyon creating a small waterfall that can be found on the West side of the park. Explore the ruins of an old dam on the East side, and the ruins of a turn of the century homestead on the West side. Rock climbing is also popular in the park. See our Castlewood Canyon State Park hikes page for driving directions, tips, and more details on these hikes South of Denver in Douglas county.

    Devils Head Lookout

  • Devils Head Lookout Trail - Wow-Moments Hike Near Denver

  • Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 hr 15 minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate

    The 1.4 mile hike and several hundred stairs that lead up to the Devil's Head Lookout Tower is worth every step. From the lower elevation aspen glade, to the views of Rampart Range on the way up this trail is one that constantly delivers Wow-moments. The granite rock formations that make up the spine of the Rampart Range that surround Devils Head are worth the early morning trek to see them illuminated by the sunrise. Just before the lookout tower, the trail emerges from stone corridor of rock to an idyllic glade complete with a USFS cabin surrounded by towering granite outcroppings. However, the best part is the views from the top. Hikers can see for 100 miles out to the eastern plains, south to Pikes Peak, west to the Tarryalls, and north to Longs Peak. Explore the Devils Head trail profile for more details, photos, and a video of the views from the top.

    White Ranch Loop Hike

  • White Ranch Loop Hike - Foothills Hike Near Denver

  • Distance: Approx 2 miles
    Drive Time from Denver: 45 minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Our final hike near Denver is a 2 mile loop hike just 45 minutes outside the city near the town of Golden, Colorado. Because this hike is situated in the eastern climbs of the foothills, it provides incredible views of the city of Denver--especially at dusk and dawn. In the full trail profile, we show how to assemble several short trails to form this loop hike. To get the details on this hike near Denver, Colorado, explore our detailed trail profile for this Sunset Loop in White Ranch with trail map, hiking trail tips, and video of the trail.


fern falls in rocky mountain national park top 10 waterfall hikes in rmnp

Top 10 Waterfalls in RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its waterfalls. Many are easy to reach, and some require hours of hiking. Check out our Top 10 Waterfall Hikes in RMNP below ranked from the easiest to the most difficult. It is our hope that this list will become a great starter guide for those wanting to end their hikes with at great destination. Be sure to see our full set of Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to explore even more!

Chasm Falls

  • Chasm Falls

  • Distance: 0.1 mile, 2.8, or 4.8 miles Round Trip (depending on parking area)
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the more accessible waterfalls in RMNP, situated about 100 yards from Old Fall River Road. This cuts through a chasm in Fall River where the water courses its way into a narrow gorge.

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    Horseshoe Falls

  • Horseshoe Falls

  • Distance: 0.4 mile Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is an extensive cascade waterfall, named for the way it bends its course through the rocky hillside. It is a short and easy family-favorite hike near Estes Park, Colorado which starts from the Alluvial Fan Trailhead but also be viewed from the roadside.

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    Adams Falls

  • Adams Falls

  • Distance: 0.6 mile Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Adams Falls is a short .6 mile out and back hike near Grand Lake, Colorado. The waterfall borders Rocky Mountain National Park and the hike starts at the East Inlet Trailhead.

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    Copeland Falls

  • Copeland Falls

  • Distance: 0.6 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    You won't be able to miss Copeland Falls in the Wild Basin area in RMNP as it is the first waterfall along the main trail and is just a short hike from the trailhead.

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    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.


    Alberta Falls

  • Alberta Falls

  • Distance: 1.6 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours
    Difficulty: Moderate
    If you only have time for one short hike on the East Side of RMNP, Alberta Falls is a great choice. It is one of the most popular short hikes in the park.

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    Fern Falls

  • Fern Falls

  • Distance: 5.4 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Take in the sights and sounds of Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park before hiking on to Fern Lake. The waterfall flows down through the forest casting a fine mist across the trail making it a perfect place to drop by and cool off.

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    Ouzel Falls

  • Ouzel Falls

  • Distance: 5.4 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Ouzel Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in RMNP. It spills over a cliffside and enormous boulders. To get to the 40-foot falls, the trail leads hikers through several creeks and past three other cascade waterfalls.

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    Timberline Falls

  • Timberline Falls

  • Distance: 8 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours
    Difficulty: Difficult
    The round-trip hike to Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is demanding but has plentiful rewards. The trail passes Alberta Falls along the way and up into beautiful Loch Vale. Beyond the waterfall hikers will find other beautiful bodies of water: Lake of Glass, some other falls, and the spectacular Sky Pond.

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    Ribbon Falls

  • Ribbon Falls

  • Distance: 9.6 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours
    Difficulty: Difficult
    Ribbons Falls is a slide waterfall that pours from Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 4.8 mile hike up to get there is another demanding one, but well worth the effort as you’ll encounter several other spectacles along the way. Just another 0.2 mile up ahead, the trail would lead to Black Lake and another waterfall, Black Lake Falls, which spills down seasonally from the heights above the lake.

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    Ypsilon Falls

  • Ypsilon Falls

Distance: 9 miles Round Trip
Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Difficulty: Difficult
Hidden along the northern shore of Ypsilon Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is the tiered Ypsilon Falls. The 4.5-mile hike to this isolated waterfall follows the demanding Ypsilon Lake trail, a trek through the thick woods of the Mummy Range.

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Photo Credit: Fern Falls by Chris Collins


jewel lake in rocky mountain national park lake in foreground with morning light breaking onto mountain in middle ground and tall grey craggy mountain in background

Lake Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is riddled with lakes. Some, like Sprague Lake and Bear Lake, are easily accessible from the trailhead. Other, such as Solitude Lake and Sky Pond, require a demanding hike on sometimes steep trails. Each of the trail profiles for these 20+ lake hikes, provides important information for planning an adventure into Rocky Mountain National Park: trail distance and difficulty, maps, driving directions, trail descriptions and tips. Take your time and find the perfect lake hike destination for your adventure in RMNP.

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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
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Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bierstadt Lake is a short destination hike in Rocky Mountain National Park to a sub-alpine lake with great panoramic views. At Bierstadt Lake, the trail forms a 1 mile loop along its shores, making it a perfect leisurely hike with friends. Bierstadt lake can be accessed from several different trailheads with differing terrain and demand. Explore the full Bierstadt Lake
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Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Lake is among the most spectacular lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The journey to Black Lake is a strenuous, 10 mile, round-trip hike with significant elevation gain--but both the destination of Black Lake and the several waterfalls along the way make it more than worth the effort. Explore the full Black Lake hiking trail profile for trail map,
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Bluebird Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bluebird Lake is a 6 mile hike to an alpine lake surrounded by craggy peaks in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park. Add an additional 1/2 mile spur trail to reach great trout fishing at Ouzel Lake. Hikers will enjoy panoramic views of the Wild Basin and the sites and sounds of several cascade waterfalls along the way.
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Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cub Lake, in Rocky Mountain National Park, is known for its unusual halo of lily pads. The 4.6 mile, roundtrip hike dazzles with its variety - especially the wildflowers. You'll pass through wetlands, glacial formations, and meadows before arriving at the lake. Explore the full Cub Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and all the details you
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Cub Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Cub Lake Loop Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is a great alternative to the an out-and-back hike up to Cub Lake. Along the way, hikers will pass by Windy Gulch Cascades, travel alongside the Big Thompson River, cross over an area called The Pool, journey through wetlands, and will be surrounded by sights of a glacial-shaped landscape. Explore
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dream lake at sunrise in rocky mountain national park with mountain face of hallett peak in background

Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Dream Lake is one of the popular destination hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park--and for good reason. In the early morning hours, Dream Lake is a vision straight out of a fairy tale. This 2.2-mile, out-and-back hike begins at the Bear Lake trailhead, and passes Nymph Lake along the way. Explore the full Dream Lake hike profile
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trail leading through grey crags on emerald lake hike in rocky mountain national park

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
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Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

A hike up to Fern Lake begins at the Fern Lake Trailhead on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the Fern Lake Trail, hikers pass through Arch Rocks, over a bridge at The Pool, and by three cascade waterfalls. Near the, you'll gain spectacular views of The Gable, Knobtop Mountain, Notchtop Mountain, and Little Matterhorn from its
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Finch Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Finch Lake is a 4.5 mile hike through pines, aspen glades, and wildflower laden meadows to a sub-alpine lake where the forest surrounds its shores. The Finch Lake trail is a great choice for those who prefer solitude as it's one of the lesser traveled trails in the Wild Basin region of RMNP. Explore the full Finch Lake hike profile
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jewel lake in rocky mountain national park lake in foreground with morning light breaking onto mountain in middle ground and tall grey craggy mountain in background

Jewel Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Jewel Lake is a 6.4 mile round-trip hike into Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike in RMNP takes you first past stunning Mills Lake. Less than half a mile beyond Mills you'll discover Jewel Lake under the shadow of the jagged eastern ridge known as Keyboard of the Winds. Explore the full Jewel Lake hiking trail profile
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Lake Haiyaha Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lake Haiyaha, in Rocky Mountain National Park, is tucked away in the recesses of a large valley, and its shoreline is surrounded by stacks of massive granite boulders. This relatively easy, 4.2 mile round-trip hike can be a quieter retreat on the busy east side of RMNP, especially if hikers arrive during the early morning hours. Explore the full Lake
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Lake Helene Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Lake Helene is a popular lake hike beginning at the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lake Helene is situated in a bowl beneath Flattop Mountain, Ptarmigan Point, and Notchtop Mountain. The trail weaves through aspen groves and pine forests with scenic mountain views at almost every turn. Explore the full Lake Helene hike profile
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Lawn Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Lawn Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park follows the course of the Roaring River for 6.2 miles to a stunning high mountain lake with great fishing. This demanding hike takes adventurers into the heart of the Mummy Range, a lesser visited region of RMNP. Explore the full Lawn Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions,
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Lion Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Lion Lake #1 in Rocky Mountain National Park boasts a dramatic alpine landscape hidden away in the northwestern corner of the Wild Basin. The trail to this high-mountain lake passes several waterfalls and offers access to other lakes and surrounding peaks. Because the Lions lake is more remote, a trip to it may require an overnight stay at one
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reflection of keyboard of the winds in mills lake in rocky mountain national park

Mills Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike up to Mills Lake is a steady, uphill, 5.6 mile trek into the breathtaking Glacier Gorge trail system of Rocky Mountain National Park. You'll be entranced by spectacular views of mountain ridges, rugged peaks, and the color of wildflowers along the trail. Glacier Gorge provides surprises at almost every turn. Explore the full Mills Lake hike profile below
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Nymph Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Nymph Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

In Summer, Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park blooms with the yellow blossoms of the lily pads that cover its surface. It's a short easy hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead to Nymph lake. Most hikers will want to make the journey beyond Nymph to Dream and Emerald Lakes. Explore the full trail profile below for all the destinations
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Odessa Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Odessa Lake is one destination you shouldn't miss in Rocky Mountain National Park. The alpine scenery is striking as towering mountain peaks seem to rise right out of the Lake. Odessa offers great views of Joe Mills Mountain, The Gable, and Little Matterhorn. This hike described here begins at the Fern Lake Trailhead, but a second route is possible from
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Pear Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Pear Lake is a great destination for solitude, fishing, and mountain views. It's a 6.5 mile, demanding hike through some of the best wildflower country in Rocky Mountain National Park. After passing Finch Lake, the trail makes its way to the higher, Pear Lake where Copeland Mountain appears to shoot straight from its shores into the sky. Explore the full
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Sandbeach Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sandbeach Lake features great fishing and a beach! The lake got its name from its sandy shore that resembles that of a beach--making it one of best camping spots in Rocky Mountain National Park. It's a 4.5 mile moderate hike that climbs Copeland Moraine and crosses two creeks before arriving at this beautiful subalpine lake. With several reservable campsites along
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Shelf Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

This demanding hike in Rocky Mountain National Park takes you off the beaten path to two high-mountain lakes, and grants views of several waterfalls along the way. This trail profile provides helpful details for making the journey to Shelf Lake, Shelf Lake Falls, and Solitude Lake. Because the hike to Shelf Lake requires travel on unmaintained trails, it is best
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jagged rock with green lake of sky pond snow fields and sun behind clouds sky pond hike in rocky mountain national park

Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

Situated above Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park are two spectacular lakes. The highest of the two is Sky Pond, and the lower is called The Lake of Glass. This demanding hike begins at the Glacier Gorge trailhead and takes you past at least three waterfalls and a beautiful set of cascades. Rewards await those who hike all the
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ouzel falls in rmnp spilling over cliff face near giant spruce trees on waterfall hike in rocky mountain national park

Waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where can you find waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park? There are over 30 named waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park, and even more unnamed and seasonal waterfalls falls hidden within its rugged landscape. Every year, the high mountain snowfields unleash streams of meltwater, pouring over cliffs and rock faces, spilling into alpine lakes, and coursing through the many creeks that race and wend through the parks verdant valleys. The waterfalls of RMNP are at their peak in the early summer, particularly throughout the month of June, but they are still wonderful destinations throughout the mid-summer and into autumn.

Explore these pages of waterfall hikes to find one (or more) that match the distance and difficulty level you're looking for. The list ranges from short hikes to destinations like Copeland Falls (just 0.3 miles one-way), or to waterfalls like Shelf Lake Falls, concealed in the higher reaches of the park, where the jagged peaks seem to scrape the sky.

Each trail profile will provide details on difficulty, distance, trail maps, driving directions, and tips.

adams falls waterfall on hike in grand lake colorado rocky mountain national park

Adams Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Adams Falls is a short .6 mile round-trip hike near Grand Lake, Colorado. The waterfall borders Rocky Mountain National Park and its trail begins at the same trailhead for the East Inlet Trail. Explore the full Adams Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and all the details you need for this short waterfall Hike in Rocky Mountain
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alberta falls waterfall in granite canyon with cascades in foreground in rocky mountain national park

Alberta Falls Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is full of waterfalls and this hike takes you to one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park. Alberta Falls is one of the most popular, short destination hikes in the park, and for good reason. If you only have time for one short hike on the East Side of RMNP, this is a
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Black Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Lake Falls cascades down the towering granite cliffs above Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. This trail through Glacier Gorge takes hikers past multiple sub-alpine lakes and several waterfalls. It's a demanding, 10 mile, round-trip hike with significant elevation gain in the heart of RMNP. Trail Snapshot: Black Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park Hike Distance 10
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Calypso Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

Calypso Cascades is an easy 3.6 mile hike to one of several waterfall destinations along this section of trail. This waterfall in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park is gets its name from the purple Calypso Orchids that bloom along the banks of Cony Creek. Explore the full Calypso Cascades hike profile below for trail map, driving directions,
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Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park is formed as Chaos Creek tumbles through the forest below Lake Haiyaha. This 4.2 mile round trip hike is on the east side of RMNP to one of the lesser visited cascade waterfalls in the park. Explore the full Chaos Canyon Cascades hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and some
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Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park bursts through a chasm in Fall River where the rock funnels its waters into a narrow gorge. It's one of the more accessible waterfalls in RMNP, located about 100 yards off of Old Fall River Road. The only drawback is that parking fills fast. However, there are several parking and hike options that
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Copeland Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Copeland Falls is just one of the many waterfalls hikers will encounter in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, you can't miss Copeland Falls as it is the first waterfall along the main trail--just a short hike from the trailhead. Explore the full Copeland Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more
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Falcon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Falcon Falls is one of two waterfalls that spill from the heights above Thunder Lake in this remote part of the Wild Basin. It's a difficult and demanding 16 mile round-trip hike that requires some land navigation and backcountry travel skills. Explore the full Falcon Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to
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Fan Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fan Falls is tucked away in the high reaches of the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park. This 15.5 mile, difficult trek, leads to a long set of segmented cascades spilling out of the heights and streaming down into Thunder Lake. This garden of water, wildflowers and rock is a perfect escape for those looking for a demanding hike
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Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fern Falls tumbles down through the forest casting a fine mist across the trail. It's a perfect place to stop, cool off, and take in the sights and sounds of the falls before hiking on to Fern Lake. Explore the full Fern Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more of the details and tips you need
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Grace Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Grace Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to view Grace Falls, high in the rock cliffs and ledges of Odessa Gorge, is one of several waterfalls and scenic waypoints along the Fern Lake Trail. Grace Falls drops nearly a hundred feet from Notchtop Mountain, tumbling over a series of ledges, eventually making its way into Fern Creek. Explore the full Grace Falls hike profile below
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Granite Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Granite Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Granite Falls takes a 5.1 mile journey from the Green Mountain Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. At Granite Falls, the waters of Tonahutu Creek drop fifty feet through a course of smooth granite slabs. The hike offers a diverse landscape: from tranquil forests, to expansive meadows, and verdant creeksides--all alive with wildflowers and wildlife. Explore the full Granite Falls
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Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Horseshoe Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is a favorite family hike near Estes Park, Colorado. It's a short and easy hike from the Alluvial Fan Trailhead, but the falls can also be viewed from the roadside. It's an extensive cascade waterfall, named for the way it bends its course through the rocky hillside. Explore the full Horseshoe Falls hike
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Lake of Glass Waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lake of Glass Waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you are up for a demanding hike in Rocky Mountain national Park, with 3 waterfalls in the space of less than 5 miles, then the hike up to Lake of Glass Falls is a great choice. A hidden waterfall that you won't find on the map! Lake of Glass falls is a segmented cascade spilling into the creek that
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Lost Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lost Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Lost Falls is a demanding 15.6 mile trek into into a lesser traveled, northern reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail follows the North Fork of the Big Thompson River through stands of lodgepole, the pinch of a rugged canyon, and past aspen laden meadows before reaching this hidden waterfall. Explore the full Lost Falls hike
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Lyric Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lyric Falls is a beautiful stair-step waterfall that spills over the moss-covered granite slabs of Hunters Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park. A lesser-known waterfall, Lyric Falls requires a 3/4 mile segment on the unmaintained social trail that winds along Hunters Creek. Locating the falls may be a bit challenging and land navigation skills are needed for this hike in
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Marguerite Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Marguerite Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Marguerite Falls is a set of casacades with upper and lower leaps, just below Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. After the 3.9 mile hike up to Fern Lake, a social trail leads into the woods along Fern Creek to the falls. Explore the full Marguerite Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more of the
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Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ouzel Falls spills over a cliffside and enormous boulders, making it arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. Before reaching this 40-foot falls, the trail traces the course of several creeks and leads hikers past three other cascade waterfalls. Explore the full Ouzel Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips
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Ribbon Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ribbons Falls is a slide waterfall that spills from Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 4.8 mile hike up to Ribbon Falls is demanding, but well worth the effort as you'll encounter several other waterfalls along the way. Push an additional .2 mile up the trail to Black Lake and yet another waterfall, Black Lake Falls, that seasonally
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Shelf Creek Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Shelf Creek Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Shelf Creek Falls is a waterfall hidden within the races of Shelf Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park. This waterfall is not marked on maps, but can be found along the hike up to Shelf Lake, a demanding hike on an unmaintained trail in Glacier Gorge. Because this hike is off-the-beaten-path, it is recommended only for those who have a
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Shelf Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Shelf Lake Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

You won't find the cascades of Shelf Lake Falls on the map. This tiered, shelf waterfall is hidden away in the high country above Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. Shelf Lake Falls flows out of Solitude Lake then into a creek that spills over the rock shelves of the falls, cutting strange formations out of the snow and
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Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Timberline Falls is a demanding 8-mile round-trip waterfall hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail takes you past Alberta Falls up into beautiful Loch Vale. Beyond Timberline Falls hikers will find Lake of Glass, additional falls, and breathtaking Sky Pond. Glacier Gorge is the home to some of the best hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, and this waterfall
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Trio Falls Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trio Falls is among the most stunning waterfalls that you will encounter in Rocky Mountain National Park, or in Colorado. But it comes at a price: A 15-mile round-trip, demanding hike. Because of this, the hike up to Trio Falls may best be part of an overnight camping trip in the park. Explore the full Trio Falls hike profile below
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Windy Gulch Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

Windy Gulch Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Windy Gulch Cascades is a hidden cascade waterfall less than half a mile into Fern Lake Trail system in Rocky Mountain National Park. Though a short hike, the final 1/10th of a mile segment is off the main trail and in steep terrain. For that reason, we've noted this as a moderate difficulty hike. Explore the full Windy Gulch
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Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park Ypsilon Hike

Ypsilon Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Falls is a tiered waterfall hidden along the northern shore of Ypsilon Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 4.5 mile hike to this secluded waterfall follows the Ypsilon Lake trail, a demanding trek through the thick woods of the Mummy Range. Explore the full Ypsilon Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and
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Boulder falls near boulder colorado in canyon with ponderosa pines and visitors at base of falls

7 Waterfall Hikes About 1 Hour of Denver

Where can you find waterfalls near Denver? This collection of seven waterfalls are all within about a 1 hour drive waterfalls from the Mile High City. Trails to the waterfalls in this collection range from just 100 yards to 5.5 miles one-way. Each of the waterfall hikes have a more detailed trail profile with driving directions, maps, and tips for making the most of your adventure. Because the landscape near Denver is not as dramatic as other parts of Colorado, we have a limited number of waterfalls close to town. However, Dayhikes Near Denver has trail profiles for more than 30 Colorado waterfall hikes on our site, so be sure to see our full set of Colorado Waterfall hikes on our Dayhikes Near Denver Waterfalls page. There you'll find waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park--just 2 hours away--and many others located the farther reaches of our beautiful state of Colorado.

Elk Falls at Staunton State Park

  • Elk Falls at Staunton State Park

  • Distance: 11 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
    We'll start with the most difficult waterfall to reach near Denver, but one that's worth the 11 mile round-trip journey to see because it has the highest drop. Elk Falls was unknown to most until opened to the public in 2013 with the creation of a new Colorado State Park, Staunton State Park. Overall it's a long but moderate hike to the Elk Falls Overlook. Explore our full trail profile for more detailed information.

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    Eldorado Falls at Walker Ranch

  • Eldorado Falls at Walker Ranch

  • Distance: 2 1/2 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Eldorado Falls, along with Forsythe Canyon Falls (see below) is one of the lesser known waterfalls near Denver. Found along the Walker Ranch loop, this clamorous cascade dives under giant boulders then gushes out on the other side. Hikers can take this in as a part of the larger Walker Ranch Loop hike, or as a shorter 1.25 mile (one-way) hike in from the Ethel Harrold Trailhead.

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    Boulder Falls

  • Boulder Falls

  • Distance: 200+ Yards Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Boulder Falls dives over 60' from a cliff face in Boulder Canyon. It's about an 100 yard walk from the parking pull-off area along Boulder Canyon Drive. Because of the 2013 flood damage, the trail has been closed for repairs. Check our trail profile for updates and announcement when it is reopened to the public. A great alternative hike in the same general area is Forsythe Canyon Falls (see below).

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    Castlewood Canyon Waterfall Hike

  • Castlewood Canyon Waterfall Hike

  • Distance: 1/4 mile Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    Named Castlewood Canyon Falls or Cherry Creek Falls, this waterfall is probably the most accessible falls near Denver, just .17 mile from the parking area. It's at its peak in the Spring after a good rain. Be sure to get the details from our full hike profile and explore the many other trails in Castlewood Canyon.

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    Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs

  • Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs

  • Distance: 1/4 mile Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 45 Minutes
    Difficulty: Easy
    Bridal Veil Falls is the second highest waterfall in this collection (Elk Falls being the tallest). The hike to Bridal Veil falls is just a short jaunt on a concrete path to Water Wheel Park, which is being renovated and is scheduled to reopen in June of 2016. What makes this waterfall unusual is that it's right in the town of Idaho Springs, much like Cornet Falls in Telluride. While not a trip into the Colorado wilderness, Bridal Veil falls boasts the interesting history of gold mining, an old steam locomotive, and restored water wheel.

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    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.


    Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen

  • Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen

  • Distance: 1.6 to 4 miles Round Trip
    Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
    Difficulty: Moderate
    Maxwell Falls has become one of the most popular destination hikes near Denver. Best viewed in the late Spring and early Summer, this tiered fan waterfall can be accessed by either a .8 mile trail that leads directly in, or by one of two different loop hikes. Because the trails at Maxwell Falls get a lot of visitors, be sure to get there early, pick up trash when you see it, and keep your pup leashed (though it's a USFS area, the county dog regulations apply here). See our trail profile for more details.

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    Forsythe Canyon Falls Near Boulder

  • Forsythe Canyon Falls Near Boulder

Distance: 2 miles Round Trip
Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Forsythe Canyon Falls is tucked away in a canyon southwest of Boulder near Gross Reservoir. A few highlights: Forsythe Canyon offers a lot of shade, the waterfall is found in unique pinch in the canyon, and the trail ends at Gross Reservoir, a beautiful site. We've found this to be a lesser visited hike, and a great alternative to some of the busier trails.

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Map of 7 Waterfall Hikes About 1 Hour of Denver


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10 Colorado Waterfall Hikes One Mile or Less

Enjoy the Sights and Sounds of Waterfalls near Denver that Only a Short Distance to Hike To

Short hikes with a big payoff! Ten Colorado waterfall hikes, one mile or less! Most waterfalls in Colorado require demanding hikes through difficult terrain. But not everyone has the time or ability to hike deep into the Colorado wilderness to discover these gems. That's why we've compiled this set of 10 easy-access waterfalls, most requiring less than a 1-mile round trip hike. A few of these hikes can be enjoyed from the car or handicap accessible viewing areas. These short waterfall hikes can be found in different parts of the state, making the scenic drives to these waterfalls half of the adventure. Explore the full set below and build your Colorado Waterfall bucket list. Be sure to download our Free Hiking Guide to help you prepare and pack smart for your dayhikes near Denver.

Top Short Waterfall Hikes Near Denver One Mile or Less: Our Favorite Hikes

    Rifle Falls Near Rifle, Colorado

  • Rifle Falls Near Rifle, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.2 to 1.5 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

    Rifle Falls launches off a limestone face 70 feet into a segmented, triple waterfall. The lush surroundings and shaded picnic area are also the home to a series of caves just waiting to be explored. So, bring your flashlight or headlamp if you plan to visit Rifle Falls State Park. Explore the full trail profile to get the trail map, driving directions, and more for Rifle Falls.

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    Cornet Falls in Telluride, Colorado

  • Cornet Falls in Telluride, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.5 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 6.5 Hours

    It's just a 1/4 mile hike from downtown Telluride to Cornet Falls, an 80 foot waterfall pouring over the red cliffs above. On the trek back down, hikers will enjoy views down into this quintessential, Colorado mountain town. Read the full trail profile for parking details and more.

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    Adams Falls Near Grand Lake, Colorado

  • Adams Falls Near Grand Lake, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.6 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

    You'll find Adams Falls on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado. Explore this easy hike to gain views of this race waterfall. Hike a bit further down the trail to take in the expansive landscape of the east meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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    Fish Creek Falls Near Steamboat, Colorado

  • Fish Creek Falls Near Steamboat, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.5 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 3 Hours

    Fish Creek Falls drops nearly 300' feet, making it one of Colorado's highest waterfalls. This short hike near Steamboat, Colorado, has two observation areas and is the trailhead for more challenging hikes. It's a must see if you are planning to vacation in this beautiful part of Colorado.

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    Zapata Falls Near Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park

  • Zapata Falls Near Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park

  • Distance: 0.8 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 4 Hours

    Zapata Falls is one of the more unusual waterfalls in Colorado. To access it requires a short hike, wading across Zapata Creek, then exploring the rock chamber where the waterfall pours down from the heights above. The hike to Zapata falls is a great option if you are visiting or camping in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. See the trail profile for camping info, driving directions, and more.

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    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.


    Treasure Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Treasure Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Distance: 1 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 4 Hours 45 Minutes

    Legend has it that back in the 1700's, French Trappers buried a cache of gold in this area of Colorado near Treasure Falls. A popular vacation stop, Treasure Falls offers a great 1/2 hike to the 100+ foot falls. There are two observation decks and interpretive signs explaining the history of the region and the legend of the treasure.

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    Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Distance: 1/10th of a Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

    Helen Hunt Falls is accessed via a beautiful drive into Cheyenne Canyon in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Two more waterfalls beckon hikers to explore the trails beyond the falls. Read the full trail profile for parking options and a longer hike approach from the entrance of Cheyenne Canyon.

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    Whitmore Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • Whitmore Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.25 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 6 Hours

    Whitmore Falls is off the beaten path about 45 minutes outside of Lake City, Colorado. This plunge waterfall pours into a mesmerizing, emerald green pool. Be sure to pay careful attention to the driving directions to this waterfall along Engineer Pass road. See the full trail profile for the details.

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    Silver Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Silver Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.4 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 5.5 Hours

    It's just 1/8th of a mile hike to soak in the beauty of Silver Falls as it tumbles over the pink and orange cliffs that surround it. Silver Falls is about a 40 minute drive outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, a beautiful drive along the course of the San Juan River.

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    North Clear Creek Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • North Clear Creek Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

Distance: 0.1 Mile Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive Time from Denver: 5 Hours

North Clear Creek Falls in Southwestern Colorado is a 100+ foot waterfall accessible from a well maintained pull-off. It's a great roadtrip stop, a place to stretch your legs and to enjoy a picnic lunch near the sight and sounds of the falls. Read the full trail profile for driving directions and more.

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Map of Colorado Waterfall Hikes One Mile or Less