red rocks with blue sky background and green trees along trading post trail red rocks park in Denver Colorado

Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park

Ready for a hike around Colorado's Red Rocks Park and famous amphitheater? The Trading Post trail at Red Rocks takes you around 10 of the park's giant red rock formations. It's a short, 1.4-mile loop hike just 25 minutes from downtown Denver. Check out our full hiking trail profile below for all the details.

Trail Snapshot: Trading Post Loop Trail

If you are looking for a family adventure that's quick to get to, this hiking trail at Red Rocks is a great option. The Trading Post trail weaves through some of Colorado's most majestic red rock formations, into meadows, and great views of Red Rocks park. Because the trail is narrow and has some steep areas, keep a good eye on the kiddos.

We hiked the Trading Post Trail on a sunny Saturday in February with our children, ages 7 and 4. They loved it, but were definitely tired at the end. However, after we finished the 1.4 mile loop, it was their idea to hike up to the amphitheater, then all the way to the top.

red-rocks-hike-trading-post-trail-midway

We started at the trading post, and hiked the loop counter-clockwise. I'd recommend hiking it this way because it gives you the move favorable views, and offers a bit of shade about 3/4 of the way through the hike--right when you need it the most. The sand and grave on the rock surface of the trail can cause your feet to slip, but as long as you are aware and take your time, it makes for a perfect leisurely hike.

You can bring your dog on this hike, however we haven't added this trail to our list of best trails for hiking with your dog near Denver because the trail can be narrow and can be high traffic. So, if you are bringing fido, we recommend going early in the morning, or take the Red Rocks trail, which is more open and has fewer people on it.

I get a lot of emails from people who are only in Denver for a few days, limited when it comes to their transportation, and want to experience the outdoors. This is the hike I send them to. Why?

  • The Trading Post is gorgeous year round.
  • Red Rocks is super close to Denver, and while it's still expensive, you could take a Lyft or Uber there from downtown. Get a group of friends to share the cost and you're golden.
  • Elevation is less of an issue for out-of-towners, and it's a relatively easy hike. It's short, but long still long enough to get a workout.

red-rocks-hike-trading-post-trail

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks :

  • Sunscreen: There's not much shade on this hike, so bring the sunscreen
  • Rattlesnakes: There are rattlesnakes in Red Rocks, as there are in many parks along the front range. Like us, they love to sunbathe, but on rocks and other warm areas. Don't let their presence deter you from enjoying this hike, but keep an eye out for the varmints.
  • Climbing: Rock Climbing is Prohibited at Red Rocks
  • View of Denver: After your hike around the Trading Post loop, walk up into the Red Rocks Amphitheater. It's worth climbing all the stairs to the top for a great view of Denver.
  • Hours: The hiking trails at Red Rocks open one hour before sunrise and close one hour after sunset
  • After the Hike: Ice Cream @ The Blue Cow
  • Trail Map for Red Rocks Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions

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White Ranch Sunset Loop Near Golden, Colorado

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. In the trail profile below, we'll show you how to create what we are calling the Sunset Loop by putting together a series of short trails. To get the details on this hike near Denver, Colorado, scroll down and take a look at the detailed trail profile, map, hiking trail tips, and the video panorama.

Trail Snapshot: White Ranch Park Sunset Loop Trail

Ifyou are looking for a great family hike or for a mountain biking experience in the foothills, White Ranch Park offers you a network of trails, with enough variety to please anyone. There are two parking lots .3 miles apart. The second parking at White Ranch has more capacity. We went on a Friday afternoon and only a handful of folks were on the trails, but we hear that it gets much more traffic on the weekends. The Ralston Buttes, a unique geologic formation, dominates the landscape in the distant northeast region of the park. It's a protected area because of its sensitive ecosystem. Though it's not accessible by trail, you'll get a lot of great views of the Buttes at various points of this loop hike.

White Ranch Loop parking lot
Start your adventure at the second parking lot with the Rawhide Trail.

Rawhide trail lays on the edge of a vast meadow. The complete trail is 4.5 miles long, but to form this loop, you'll only hike a segment, before you join up with the Longhorn trail. It can be tricky to find the Rawhide trail, but it's the first one to the east at the trailhead (on your right, if you are facing the trailhead sign). See the photo just below.

White Ranch Loop Rawhide trail beginning

In the distance you will have a chance to see some old ranch buildings and farm machinery. You can imagine what it might have been like to farm this rugged area perched above Denver. While cattle no longer graze these meadows, White Ranch Park is home to several species of wildlife including elk, deer, mountain lions, bears, wild turkeys, and bobcats.

White Ranch Loop North View Along Rawhide

When you get to the intersection with the Longhorn trail, you'll turn right and enter the second part of the hike. Open meadows are replaced with shade and the distinct perfume of Ponderosa pine as you walk along the trail.

White Ranch Loop Longhorn Trail

The trail itself is pretty clear and very well-kept. After about of a mile of ups and downs with some nice and easy inclines you can stop and enjoy the view before you turn right again and take the Maverick trail.

White Ranch Loop Hiking The Trail

Maverick Trail is good for riders and hikers of all skill levels. It's 0.9 miles long and it is primarily used for hiking. While hiking on this trail your eyes may be drawn to the beauty of the high plains, but watch out for the shallow roots that make their way into this part of the trail. It is not technically challenging but some riders have found themselves on their backs on this segment, and I'm sure a few hikers have tripped.

White Ranch Loop View of North Table Mountain

After some great views of Denver and out to the horizon in the East you will reach the end of the Maverick trail and an intersection with Belcher Hill trail. Turn right on the trail split and take a short path to the next intersection. Looking from right to left in front of you will be three roads - Sawmill trail (0.5 mi) that will take you back to the parking lot where you started your trail, Belcher Hill trail (0.6 mi) and Sawmill trail (0.8 mi) that can take you to Sawmill Hicker Camp. Take the Sawmill Trail to complete the Sunset Loop hike.

White Ranch Loop Sign to Camping area
White Ranch is one of just two Jefferson County parks with campsites.

There are 10 campsites available on this site, each has a picnic table, a metal fire ring, and some food storage poles. Also there is a maximum of three tents and eight people per site. Camping permits are free and valid for a maximum stay of up to three nights. Click here for more details on camping in White Ranch Park and the most up to date regulations.

White Ranch Camping Permits

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

Tips & Resources for Hiking the The Sunset Loop at White Ranch Park

view of wide dirt trail at mount sanitas in boulder looking south to green mountain in boulder colorado ponderosa pine in foreground

Mt. Sanitas Hike Near Boulder

If you are visiting Boulder, this is a great Colorado hike. 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 trail profile below for all the info you need on this hike near Boulder.

Trail Snapshot: Mt. Sanitas Hike in Boulder

Mt. Sanitas offers three different hike options, ranging from the more difficult climb up the mountain, to an easy walk through a peaceful valley. Sanitas is Latin for "health", and this hike may either get you in better shape (the 3.1 mile loop), or restore your sanity (the easier options). If you are visiting Boulder, this is a great Colorado hike.

3 Hike Options at Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado

1 - The Mt. Sanitas Loop - 3.1 Mile Loop - Medium+

mt sanitas loop labeled
This is the classic hike at Boulder's Mt. Sanitas, and it's the most difficult of the three hike options because it involves a series of log and rock steps that will leave your quads and knees either thanking your for the workout or aching for a couple days afterwards. Because of this, we would give it a Medium+ difficulty rating. The prize of this Front Range Hike are the views at the top. You'll be able to look down into Boulder and get some great views of Colorado's Front Range.

2 - Mt. Sanitas Valley Hike - 2 Mile Out-and-Back - Easy

Mt. Sanitas Valley Hike Near Boulder

Here's the easiest option; 1 mile straight up the valley and back. The two words that best describe the Sanitas Valley trail: idyllic and busy. Dogs run about and jump in the creek that runs along the beginning of the path, runners fly by, and families talk and stroll together. The trail rises gently at first, then goes into more of an incline. We took our stroller; it worked fine, but was tough pushing the kids up the last 1/4 mile uphill. We turned around just after the Dakota Ridge Trail junction, making it a 2 mile out-and-back hike.

3 - Dakota Ridge Trail at Mt. Sanitas - 2 Mile Loop - Easy to Medium

Mt. Sanitas Dakota Ridge Route
You'll find side trails running East/West off of the Sanitas Valley trail which will take you up onto the Dakota ridge, a hogback that boxes in the Sanitas Valley. You can make this an out-and-back hike, or turn it into a loop by hiking back through the valley (see photo above and the Mt. Sanitas Trail Map for the route).

Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Sanitas in Boulder:

  • Parking: This is kind of a no-brainer, but get to the trailhead early. I think we arrived around 8am on a Saturday and grabbed the last parking spot. However, we noticed that many people were walking to the trailhead from town, so there are other parking options.
  • No Shade: Bring your sunscreen; the trail is mostly exposed.
  • Lots of People: If you are looking for solitude, I'd recommend trying another hike. The Mt. Sanitas trail is essentially in Boulder, and its great location means that it's quite busy.
  • Trail Map for Mt. Sanitas Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Ozo Coffee

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


lakeshore of gross reservoir on forsythe canyon hike near boulder

Forsythe Canyon to Waterfall and Gross Reservoir

Looking for a trail that will provide some shade on a hot Colorado day? This hiking trail has shade, plus a waterfall, a stream, a canyon, and lake. It's hard to beat. Forsythe Canyon is just outside Boulder, Colorado (1hr 15min from Denver), and is an easy to moderate hike. Check out our full hiking trail profile for details and be sure to read the directions to this trailhead carefully.

Trail Snapshot: Forsythe Canyon Trail

The shade of a wooded canyon, combined with a waterfall, ending at a blue lake, make this hike near Boulder Colorado worthwhile. Though it's probably 25' high, the waterfall is not what I'd call spectacular. So, if you are going for this waterfall, I'd recommend going early in the season when the snowmelt is at its peak in May and early June.

The trail winds gently downhill through a canyon, beside a creek, sheltered beneath fir and spruce. In fact, of the hikes we have profiled, this trail may provide more shade than any trail near Denver. You'll come upon the falls about 1 mile into the hike and the reservoir is just 200 yards further down the trail. In fact, reaching the clear blue water was the highlight for our kids.

We skipped rocks and hiked along the sandy and rock rim so that we could explore more of the lake. With the water levels being so low, and a large tree blocking the shot, I couldn't get a good photo of the falls.

forsyth canyon at the gross reservoir

One important note. The trail is a bit difficult to find just above the waterfall, in fact, if you take the wrong route, it appears to lead you down a rock face - which is not a good idea, especially with kids. The correct route bears to the left of a cedar tree, will lead you up further above and away from the falls, then back down into the canyon floor. I've posted a photo below showing the juncture. Even in the photo, it's hard to see the trail.

Correct route above Forsythe falls

Tips & Resources for Hiking Forsythe Canyon:

  • TIP: If you are coming from Denver, it's quite a drive. The payoff is that the parking lot was almost empty on memorial day weekend. We recommend making a day of it and spending some time in Boulder before or after the hike.
  • TIP: The Reservoir is stocked with Kokanee Salmon, and this stretch of it is where they supposedly like to hang out. So, bring your fishing gear. Here is a link to a Dept. of Wildlife PDF with information on the stock on the lake and some links to the fishing regulations for Gross Reservoir.
  • TIP: Swimming and Wading are Prohibited
  • TIP: The Google Map & Directions: The trailhead parking lot is new, and really nice (with a restroom), and the directions above are accurate. However, I get a lot of email from folks who plug this map into their GPS and somehow miss it and try to drive down FR359. Remember, GPS is only accurate up to a point. Once you turn off of Magnolia and onto 68, drive for 2 miles then turn right into the parking lot just before FR359. Look for a gravel parking lot with a restroom and a wooden fence surrounding the perimeter. You can zoom in on the Google Map to get a feel for what it looks like. Google updated the satellite photos recently, so the parking lot now shows. You can check here for seasonal road closures of FR359. Or you can all 303-541-2500 (Boulder Ranger District) to check the road status before heading out on your adventure
  • TIP: Be sure to take the recommended route using Magnolia road. We've had a few emails from folks trying to reach the Forsythe Canyon Trailhead from Lakeshore Road. My understanding is that it's not possible, or at least highly problematic.
  • After the Hike: After the Hike: Ozo Coffee
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
Mount Falcon View from Castle

Mount Falcon - Castle & Tower Hike

A hike to castle ruins in Colorado? Yep. Throw in a lookout tower, great view of Denver, of Red Rocks, and of the mountains, and you've got some of the highlights of the Mount Falcon Trail. The trailhead is nestled in a community in the foothills just about 40 minutes from Denver. Here we detail a 2.3 mile loop trail that hits all the destinations.

Trail Snapshot: Mount Falcon Castle & Tower Hike

Mt. Falcon Loop Hike

Mount Falcon features several trails. By combining a few, you can create a 2.3 mile loop and take in several historic sites as well as breathtaking views of Denver, Red Rocks, and the Front Range. This is makes it one of the best hikes close to Denver for visiting friends and family. Because it is an easy hike and has a relatively flat and wide trail, you can take the jogging stroller on this one, too. If you are looking for more great trails for your family, be sure to check out our Kid Friendly Trails Near Denver and our recommended Colorado Hikes for Visiting Friends and Family pages. If hiking with kids, be sure to access it via the West Trailhead as described in this post. Map apps and other sites may take you to the very demanding east trailhead, which is very exposed to the sun and has heavy mountain bike traffic.
Denver View From Mount Falcon

The Loop Trail Sequence:Start at the parking lot off of Mt. Falcon Road, and when you come to a fork in the trail, take the Tower Trail to your right. Soon you'll pass the Eagle Eye Shelter which offers great views towards Mount Evans and the surrounding foothills. Stay on the Tower Trail until you get to the Fire Tower which commands a panoramic view of Denver, Red Rocks, and more of the Front Range of Colorado.

Then continue on the Tower Trail until it intersects with the Meadow Trail. Take the Meadow Trail North/Left for about .3 miles. It will end at the Castle Trail - take a left. The Castle Trail will lead you back to the parking lot, but don't head back until you stop at the ruins of the old Walker Home. The views from here are beautiful as well.

hiking near sundown with dog and baby at mount falcon hike near denver

Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Falcon:

aaron johnson author of dayhikes near denver with daughter in backpack flyfishing on bear creek at Lair o the Bear Park near morrison colorado

Bear Creek Trail at Lair o' the Bear Park

Lair o' the Bear is, in our family's opinion, the best family hike near Denver. First, the drive into the canyon on Bear Creek road is beautiful. Once at the park you'll find great hiking trail options, the cool water of bear creek, great parking, and some good picnic spots. There are open areas as well as shade. Our one big suggestion is to keep your kiddos close to you on the busier trail segments as this is also a mountain biking mecca. Explore the details below in our profile of this Jefferson County, Colorado park.

Trail Snapshot: Bear Creek Trail at Lair O' the Bear

Lair O'the Bear is fantastic for families because this hike has lot of shade, a mostly level path, the sounds and sights of water, and a few great areas for picnics in this Colorado park. On top of all of that, it's one of the most accessible Denver trails just out of town in the foothills. Within Lair O the Bear park, the Bear Creek Trail follows the creek for 1.6 miles of trail. Approximately 1 mile of the trail runs West from the parking area, and .6 of a mile to the East. But that is just within the park boundaries; the actual trail continues following the creek in both directions, so you can explore even more of this beautiful canyon and riparian landscape. You can also fish Bear Creek in Lair O the Bear. I've not had any luck yet, so I'd appreciate any tips in the comment section below.

lair-of-the-bear-fishing

Tips & Resources for Hiking at Lair o' the Bear :

  • Bikes: There are some hiker only trail segments, but most are open to mountain bikes - and there are A LOT of them, especially on the weekends. So, just hike aware and let your kids know that bikes may be zipping by.
  • Picnic: Take a picnic lunch or dinner. There are some great picnic areas along the river at Lair o' the Bear.
  • Birding: This is a great place to teach your kids (or yourself) some tree and bird identification. The riparian ecosystem is pretty diverse at Lair o' the Bear.
  • Lair o’ the Bear Park Trail Map: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Ice Cream @ The Blue Cow

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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