Where are the best places to hike near Denver in November?

November hiking on the Front Range of Colorado can be cold and snowy or 70 degrees and sunny. It can feel like the continuation of Fall or the depths of winter. And so much depend on where you want to hike. Travel an hour West into the mountains, and it’s like you’ve been transported into a different country–because you have. So, you can see the answer to “Where do I hike this weekend?” in November depends a lot on location and the weather forecast.

Because of this, I think in terms of hike purpose: A) Just Enjoying the Outdoors or B) Adventure. If your goal is to hike alongside a friend and enjoy the beauty of Colorado, or get the dog out for a long walk, then you’re probably staying within about 45 minutes of Denver. If you’re looking for some adventure, you’re driving further and stepping into a whole different and sometimes higher risk landscape. In the rest of this post, I’ll recommend a series of trails in both categories.

Just Enjoying the Outdoors

In November, there are three go-to places I’d recommend hiking that are closer in to the Denver metro area and have a lot of options.

  • Hikes in Staunton State Park:

  • Less than an hour from Denver, this newest of our State Parks has miles upon miles of sunny trails. If you want sun and a great hike with your dog, Staunton is a great go-to. The Staunton Ranch Trail runs right through the middle of the park through ponderosa pines and with great views of Staunton Rocks to the North. Our kids loved hiking the loop hike to Davis Ponds. And for those of you looking for a longer more demanding hike, check out our hike profile for Elk Falls overlook. A CO State Parks pass is required. See the hike profiles above for details.

    morning light on flatirons mountains near boulder taken from ncar on bear canyon loop hike
    Flatirons at the entrance of Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado

  • Hikes in Chautauqua Park in Boulder:

  • I love hiking Chautauqua Park because it’s right down in the city of Boulder and the park provides access to all kinds of hiking options. Like Staunton, dogs are allowed in most areas of the park. You can grab good coffee or lunch after an early morning hike, or enjoy a sunset at places like Realization Point. My favorite is the hike up to the alcove behind the First and Second Flatiron. The trail to Royal Arch is a local favorite. If you are looking for something less demanding, consider Shanahan Ridge or the Enchanted Mesa Loop. There are a labyrinth of trails, so you can always just grab a map and explore. Remember, the sun goes down early and fast behind the mountains, so plan out your return. When hiking during these winter months, I always pack the 10 Essentials, my down coat, and have my headlamp in the top of my pack. Sign up for our Trail Dispatch email and get a download of our recommended packing list, trail meals ideas, and more hike recommendations.

  • St. Mary’s Glacier Trail:

  • St. Mary’s Glacier is a favorite destination year round. The photo at the top of this post is of St. Mary’s Lake and you can see the glacier, complete with ski trail marks, on the glacier just above the lake. It’s just a 1.7 mile round-trip hike, but don’t let the short distance deceive you. You’re back in the high country of Colorado and weather conditions can change super fast. So, be prepared. Get to the trailhead early on the weekends, and by early, I mean before 7AM, and have cash for the parking fee. See our St. Mary’s Glacier trail profile for more details.

    meadows and ponderosa pine along mesa trail in the south mesa area of the flatirons south of boulder colorado with the flatirons in the background
    Along the Mesa Trail South of Boulder, Colorado

  • Just South of Boulder:

  • I love the Marshal Mesa area on the South end of the Flatirons. The Marshall Mesa trail runs along the base of the flatirons below Bear Peak and offers some beautiful scenery without the demand of steep grades. The parking area is along the same road that leads into Eldorado Canyon, which is another wonderful place to visit this time of year. The trails in the Canyon because of the topography are going to have snow and mud patches, so bring your trekking poles or pack some traction devices for your backpack. See our Eldorado Canyon hikes page for several trails to explore.

    The Walker Ranch Loop, or just the top end of it at Eldorado Falls, is a great option for hiking with the dog and friends. The loop is longer and more demanding, but a wonderful way to spend the day with a companion just talking and taking in the beauty of Colorado. North from the Marshall Mesa Traihead along 93 is the Flatirons Vista Trailhead. We have profiled a 1.9-mile and 3.3 mile set of loop hikes that give you the grand views of the Flatirons on these broad rolling meadows of this area North of Denver.

    A CO State Parks pass is required for Eldorado Canyon and there are access fees at the Marshall Mesa and Flatirons Vista Trailheads. See the hike profiles above for details.

More Adventurous Hikes

If you are looking for a more demanding workout and possibly some peak-top views or destination hikes, then here are a few trails I’d recommend for this time of year. Before taking off into the woods though, be sure to review our 10 Winter Hiking tips. Safety and smarts are always important–they are critical during these Winter months however because of the cold and the unpredictable weather.

views from carpenter peak in roxborough state park colorado granti boulders evergreen trees on mountains and blue skies with cirrus clouds moderate hike near denver
View from the peak of Carpenter Peak

  • Carpenter Peak in Roxborough State Park:

    This is a great 6.2 mile, out-and-back trail South of Littleton, Colorado. I like this trail because you get views to the West of the Front Range, and you get to look down on the beauty of Roxborough State Park and it’s gigantic fins of red rock. The only drawback is that dogs are not allowed in the park.

  • Windy Peak in Golden Gate Canyon State Park:

  • You can bring your dog on this one. The hike up to Windy Peak is a 6.4 mile loop hike to views out to the snow-capped peaks in the West. There are lot of other hike options in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, so check out our trails page for the park for more ideas.

    Hiker on summit of bear peak near boulder colorado
    Hiker at the top of Bear Peak

  • South Boulder and Bear Peaks:

  • These two hikes are more demanding and can be made into a 9-mile loop hike where you bag both peaks on the same hike. Bear Peak has a little knife edge that requires a few moments of hand-over-hand, and the summit of South Boulder Peak requires a bit of scrambling, but most of the hike is moderate. Bring plenty of water as you’ll need it.

    ouzel falls waterfall in background with cascades in foreground in rocky mountain national park
    Ouzel Falls in the Wild Basin of RMNP

  • Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • This shoulder season can be a perfect time to visit RMNP because the crowds have subsided. Be ready for muddy trails and snow, but on those sunny warm weekends, the Wild Basin and Bear Lake areas will be quiet escapes from the city. I’d recommend giving the RMNP ranger offices a call to get a feel for the weather or checking out the RMNP Trail Conditions page Traction devices and trekking poles will make your hike in these winter conditions way more enjoyable. I’d recommend checking Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls in the Wild Basin area. The trailhead changes in winter months for the Wild Basin, so be sure to add the additional mileage to your hike because you’ll be starting from the Winter Trailhead. In the Bear Lake and Moraine Park area, I’d recommend Fern Falls, an easier hike to Alberta Falls or Emerald Lake, and the more demanding hike up to The Loch.

boulder falls waterfall near boulder colorado pouring through canyon into creek below with grey rock cliffs

Waterfall Hikes in November

The best time of year to explore the waterfalls near Denver is during the early Summer months of May, June, and July. However, the waterfalls wills surge over sheets of ice during those warm days following a good snow. It’s going to be pretty hit or miss, but if you are looking for a waterfall hike near Denver during these early winter months, I’d recommend a few.

  • Boulder Falls:

  • Right off of the road, so really no hike at all. This is a great year-round waterfall just 50 minutes North of Denver. Pictured above.

  • Elk Falls:

  • A longer hike in Staunton State Park to the tallest waterfall near Denver.

  • Alberta Falls:

  • A short 1.6 mile hike from Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.