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

Top 10 Winter Hikes Near Denver

Where are the best places to hike in the winter months near Denver? Snow-covered trails and blue skies that seem to stretch into forever, that's winter hiking in Colorado. Winter sets in from November through most of March along the Front Range, and some years we've had snow as late as May--later back in the nearby mountains. 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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    Spruce Mountain is easy to access off of interstate 25 but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of things that you feel enveloped by the landscape. You have out-and-back and a loop trail option that traces the outer rim so that you can take in the panoramas of rolling green hills south of Larkspur, Colorado. The best part about this hike are the views of Pikes Peak in the south. Most of Winter, this area of Douglas County is fairly mild. There will be cold days, but the snow melts fast and the trail is rarely muddy.

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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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    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. We love just how close these trails at Elk Meadow Park are to Denver and visiting the quaint town of Evergreen afterwards to grab some pizza or a coffee. You can add a walk along the edges of Evergreen Lake to fill out your day to watching or joining the locals ice skating. Pack your hat and gloves and a thermos full of hot chocolate for a great winter day trip.

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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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    We love these trails for two reasons: 1) they are just 25 minutes from Denver, and 2) the rock formations are absolutely beautiful--especillay when the winter white of snow sets in contrast with the pink and orange hues of the surrounding rock formations. 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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    There are ruins of an old castle--need we say more. This is one of my favorite places to take a photo of the front range mountains. Set the castle ruins in the foreground and the snowcapped range of Indians Peaks and James Peak Wilderness in the background (see photo above). 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 also take in views of the city of Denver stretched out below. Be sure to read our full trail profile so that you take this hike from the upper trailhead, otherwise you'll have a a steep hike accessing the main trails.

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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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    When the snow falls, the surrounding sounds of the city soften and this valley transforms into a walk back in time, making South Valley Park 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 we lived in Littleton, this was my favorite after-work and early-morning escape. The trails here get a lot of sun and are mostly a gravel base, so they dry quickly and are a more reliable choice for those who want to avoid a muddy adventure.

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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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    Quiet. That's why we like hiking Castlewood Canyon in the winter, especially after a fresh snowfall. 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 overlooked even though it's a Colorado State Park. 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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    First of all, we love this winter hike because it's in one of most favorite places on earth, Rocky Mountain National Park. The second reason is the trail weaves past a set of lakes to a jaw-dropping view of frozen Emerald Lake and Hallet Peak in the background. This hike is a classic, and short, but it's going to be more challenging in the winter. You're likely going to need snowshoes for this, and the best place to rent snowshoes is at the Estes Park Mountain Shop. If you have more fuel in your tank, then consider adding frozen Alberta Falls to your adventure.

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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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    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. Scan the skies for Golden Eagles and Red Tail Hawks catching thermals above the valley floor. It's important to note before you make the drive that, like nearby Waterton Canyon, no dogs are allowed in Roxborough State Park. A Colorado State Parks pass or fee is required to access the park. We've profiled five different hikes in Roxborough State Park and you can explore all the links below. I'd recommend starting with the Fountain Valley Trail to get teh best views of the park's most beautiful features.

    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

    Why We Love this Winter Hike:

    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. Note that it has a northern side that doesn't see as much sunshine, so this trail can get icy during certain times of winter. I've not needed Traction Devices, but they are always smart to carry when negotiating winter trails. And I almost always bring Trekking Poles with me to take the pressure off my knees and to help me hike over slick and muddy terrain. Traction Devices

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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

Why We Love this Winter Hike:

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. You can also check trail conditions page for RMNP which is updated on a regular basis for the most travelled trails in the park.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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baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes



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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    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? Here is a list of our ten of favorite hikes, most requiring short drive times into the mountains, to waterfalls, lakes, and other beautiful destinations. They range from short easy trails through Denver's iconic Red Rocks park, to longer drives up into the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park.

We've included some parks and trail networks, so some of our recommendations include two or more hikes. These are the hikes near Denver we often recommend to friends new to hiking and those vacationing in Colorado. This list is one you can trust, written by the local guides who have hiked hundreds of miles of trails on the Front Range of Colorado. Explore the full trail profiles of each hike for trail maps, driving directions, tips, and places to visit and refuel after the hike.

Our Favorite Hikes Near Denver

Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park sunrise on rock of deep blue lake on hike near denver colorado

1. 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.

hiker in foreground on trail near Denver at chautauqua park with flatirons mountains in background and blue sky

2. 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.

Pikes Peak in background on trail in Staunton State Park with ponderosa pines on hike near Denver Colorado

3. 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.

West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park deep in mountains near Denver

4. 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 Colorado with hiking trail

5. 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 timberline falls waterfall on hike near Denver Colorado

6. 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.

spring blooms along trail south of Denver colorado in waterton canyon

7. 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.

cherry creek waterfall flowing through Castlewood Canyon State Park with cottonwood leaves in foreground on hike near denver colorado

8. 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.

Rock formations in foreground and Longs peak in background at Devils Head Lookout firetower south of Denver Colorado

9. 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.

prairie meadow in foreground with ponderosa pines and ralston ridge rock formation in background at White Ranch hike near Denver

10. 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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    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.


    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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above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge hike finder


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.

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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solitude lake rocky mountain national park header

Solitude Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Solitude Lake is an alpine lake situated in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. Solitude is aptly named, as it is hidden from the main trail system, situated high above Glacier Gorge in the shadow of Thatchtop and Arrowhead Peak. Because the hike to Solitude and its twin sister, Shelf Lake, require travel on unmaintained trails, it is best
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Sprague Lake Loop Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sprague Lake Loop Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

At Sprague Lake you'll find an easy loop hike with some stunning views of the mountains that make Rocky Mountain National Park famous. It's a perfect hike in RMNP for young families because the trail is short and has no real elevation gain. With diverse wildlife and a beautiful, peaceful lake, this is one of those spots you should not
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Spruce Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spruce Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spruce Lake is an ideal destination in Rocky Mountain National Park for those who are looking to hike through terrain with some variety. After the 3.9 mile hike to Fern Lake, the .9 mile spur trail to Spruce Lake is moderate, with a few steep and rocky segments. It's a great place to find some solitude as few hikers will
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the loch rocky mountain national park header

The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park

If lakes are your favorite destination, then the hike to The Loch should be added to your trail list in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a moderately difficult hike on the eastern side of the park where you can hike along the edge of the lake, fish for trout, or come early in the morning to photograph the iconic
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alpine lake with mount ypsilon in background with blue skies and clouds in rocky mountain national park hike

Ypsilon Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike to Ypsilon Lake is a 9-mile round-trip journey along a heavily forested trail in the Mummy Range of Rocky Mountain National Park. Ypsilon Lake sits in a wooded basin along the eastern slopes of Ypsilon Mountain and Mount Chiquita. On this hike, you'll enjoy views of rugged mountains and Roaring River, a waterfall, and the two lakes found
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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.

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Boulder falls near boulder colorado in canyon with ponderosa pines and visitors at base of falls

7 Waterfalls Near Denver

Where can you find waterfalls near Denver? This collection of seven waterfalls are all within about a 1 hour drive waterfalls from the Denver. 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

1. Elk Falls at Staunton State Park - Highest Waterfall Near Denver

Distance: 11 miles Round Trip
Drive Time from Denver: 50 Minutes
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
We'll start with the most difficult hike to a waterfall 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

2. Eldorado Cascades at Walker Ranch - Obscure Waterfall Near Denver

Distance: 2 1/2 miles Round Trip
Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour
Difficulty: Moderate
Eldorado Cascades, 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

3. Boulder Falls - Most Picturesque Waterfall Near Denver

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 had been closed for repairs, and in late 2019 closed again due to road repair work. Boulder falls reopened June 13th 2020 with a newly paved parking area, so it is again accessible. This waterfall and the next are the most accessible waterfalls near Denver.

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Castlewood Canyon Waterfall Hike

4. Cherry Creek Falls 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 waterfalls 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

5. Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho Springs - Historic Waterfall Near Denver

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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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.


Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen

6. Maxwell Falls Near Evergreen - Double Waterfall/a>

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 waterfall 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.There is a lower falls further down the trail. It's just worth noting and worth taking if you are making the full hike.

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Forsythe Canyon Falls Near Boulder

7. Forsythe Canyon Falls Near Boulder - Shaded Hike Waterfal Near Denver

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


baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes


north clear creek falls near lake city colorado short waterfall hikes in colorado

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