Hikes Near Denver Without the Drive Time
Where are the best hiking trails close to Denver? We’ve put together a list of more than 20 hikes that are about a 30 minute drive from the city center. These hikes offer a variety of landscapes, from the red rocks of South Valley Park, to the enormous cottonwood trees that line the Highline Canal, you can experience the broad vistas of the Flatirons, or the aspen laden meadows near Evergreen. There are even a few trails that lead hikers above the city to gain views of the distant snowcapped Rocky Mountains or down to the city of Denver below. Explore this page for an overview. But there is more, as each hike has a detailed page with trail maps, driving directions, and photos.
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Let’s start with a family favorite. Lair O the Bear has the best name of any park near Denver. Our family has found it a quick escape from the city and a great place to have an afternoon picnic in the shade of the aspens along Bear Creek. The short drive up Bear Creek Canyon is beautiful. The trail runs alongside Bear Creek, so keep your eyes peeled for Ouzels, little birds also known as Dippers that dive under water to feed.
Distance: 2.7 Mile Loop
The Bluffs Regional Park is located in the town of Lone Tree on the South End of Denver. If you’re in town on business this hike is located just minutes from the Denver Tech center near Cabelas. Within a few hundred yards of trail you’ll begin to realize great views down into Denver and out to the Western foothills. It’s a broad dirt trail that eventually winds its way up to a broad mesa with incredible views of the Front Range Mountains. Look for meadowlarks feeding, especially in the late afternoon and early evenings.
Distance: 1.4 Mile Loop
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Located in downtown Castle Rock, about 30 minutes South of the city center, the Castle Rock Trail at Rock Park winds up to the base of the rock for which the town is named. Stop and study the conglomerate rocks embedded in this massive rock formation and take in the views to the West of town, out to Devils Head and the Front Range beyond it.
Distance: 5 Miles Round Trip
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
If you’re up for a real workout of a hike, then Chimney Gulch, located near the town of Golden, is just a 25 minute drive from downtown Denver. Watch paragliders launch from the top of Mt. Zion and catch the winds along the foothills.
Distance: 1.8 Round Trip
The Clear Creek trail was a favorite with our young kids. The first segment, in downtown Golden, is paved, then turns to a dirt trail after going 470. The county has plans to keep expanding the trail into Clear Creek Canyon. You can soak your feet in the cool water of Clear Creek and watch kayakers run through the chutes. If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to witness swift water rescue trainings hosted here every year.
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Deer Creek Canyon is tucked away in the foothills just south of Ken Caryl in Littleton. Combine the Meadowlark and Plymouth trails to form a short loop hike. If you live in the suburbs south of Denver, this loop is a great place to walk the dog after work.
Distance: 6 Miles
The Plum Creek trail winds alongside its namesake for 6 miles through the town of Castle Rock. Our family will often pick up the Plum Creek trail from the small trailhead along Meadows Parkway for an after work and school stroll or bike ride. The trail acts as artery connecting the East and West sides of the town. Tall cottonwoods and lone pines stretch above the meadows surrounding the creek.
Distance: 2.6 Mile Loop
Just outside the town of Evergreen are miles of meadows situated at the base of Bergen Peak. Elk Meadows is aptly named, so scan the fields from time to time to see if you can spot grazing elk. A great hike to see the changing colors and one of our favorite dog friendly hikes near Denver.
Distance: 1.9 to 3.3 Miles
If you’re looking for Wide Open Spaces, then you’ll find them at Flatirons Vista just south of Boulder. The views of the distant Flatirons formation that rises from these meadows is breathtaking. We profile just a couple of the many trail options that make their way out from the Flatirons Vista Trailhead. There is a trailhead parking fee and absolutely no shade–so don’t forget the sunscreen.
Distance: 1.6 Mile Loop
One of our top dog-friendly hikes because it’s not far off the interstate, it’s short, and has a 17-acre off-leash dog area next door. Take in views of Devils Head in the west, Longs Peak in the north, and Pikes Peak to the south.
Distance: 3.7 Round Trip
The Highline Canal Trail winds 66 miles through Denver and out of town both to the south and the north, providing a riparian zone right through the heart of the city. This segment of the Highline is located in the Highlands Ranch area and can be accessed from a trailhead along County Line Road. Traveling just under two miles southwest leads to a the historic Fly’n B Park, an old refurbished homestead complete with fishing pond and picnic shelter.
Distance: 1.8 Mile Loop
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is a 15,000 acre wildlife refuge located just 30 minutes northeast of Denver. This 1.8 mile loop trail takes you along the shoreline of Lake Ladora and Lake Mary on the southern end of the park. Go early in the morning for your best chances to view wildlife.
Distance: 0.6 and 0.8 Mile
These are our favorite hikes for kids near Denver. Abert’s Squirrels romp through the trees and deer graze in the shade of tall ponderosa pines in this idyllic spot atop Lookout Mountain in the foothills above Golden, Colorado. It’s about a 25-minute drive to the trailhead. The nature center is one of the best in the Jefferson County parks system.
Distance: 2.4 to 4.8 Miles
Difficulty: Easy & Moderate
At Meyer Ranch open space you’ll find a loop trail and an out-and-back options that take your across meadows and lodgepole and ponderosa forest. Explore our three trail profiles to pick the hike or hikes that best fit your plans.
Distance: 4.9 Mile Loop
A couple years back Mt. Galbraith was a hidden gym, but because of its proximity to Denver, it’s gained in popularity. We recommend that you go in the early morning or during the weekdays. Mt. Galbraith offers great views down into Golden and Denver. On the back side of the loop, you can gain views to the west down into Clear Creek Canyon.
Distance: 2.7 to 7.7 miles
I love the initial hike up the north side of North Table Mountain. It’s an old access road, like a giant ramp built into the mountainside. When you gain the top of this massive butte (we call buttes “mountains” for some reason in Colorado), you’ll see a broad tableland of windswept grasses and have access to a whole host of trail options. Explore the full trail profile for several loop hikes options on North Table Mountain.
Distance: 1.3 to 7 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
O’Fallon Park offers three different loop trails and a longer out-and-back option on the Bear Creek Trail. Our favorite is the meadow view loop where, at the top you can take in the distant snowcapped peaks in the West.
Distance: 2.7 Mile Out-and-Back
Panorama Point may be the quickest drive and hike to gain these kind of views of the Front Range. Mt. Falcon probably gives it a run for it’s money, but it definitely lives up to its name. We recommend beginning at the West lot for a shorter hike to the point.
Distance: 6-Miles+ Out-and-Back
A classic hike right in the heart of historic Red Rocks Park in Morrison Colorado. The Red Rocks trail takes you through the meadows surrounding the giant monoliths that make this park famous. Be sure to tour the Red Rocks Amphitheater during your visit and climb the steps to the top for views down into the City of Denver.
Distance: 0.5 mile to 3 miles
This may be my favorite spot to hike that’s close to Denver. It’s as if someone secreted away a bunch of red rock formations in a meadow behind the hogbacks–those angled foothills you see when you drive along the southwestern curcuit of 470. It’s quiet enough to hear an acorn fall from the scrub oaks along the trail. And winter snows create a beautiful contrast of orange and pink on white.
Distance: 1/2-Mile Round Trip
The Trading Post Trail is our go-to hike near Denver! It’s the perfect hike for visiting friends and family because it’s relatively easy and short. No snowcapped peaks here, but your surrounded by towering red rock. If you have limited time in Denver, this is your best option. The Trading Post trail also makes for a great early morning hike before the trails get busy and the sun heats things up.
Distance: Up to 12.4 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
We’ve encountered Bighorn Sheep every time we’ve hiked up into Waterton Canyon. And this is why dogs (really, any pets) are prohibited. Golden Eagles soar high above the orange canyon walls, and trout can be found feeding in the currents of the South Platte river. Waterton Canyon is a favorite of mountain bikers and hikers alike and a perfect place for an evening picnic. See our full trail profile for different hike options and picnic spots.