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

Lake Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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

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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 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 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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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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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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Hikes With Shade Near Denver

Most hikes near Denver are very exposed to the sun. In fact, less than 10% of the hikes on our site offer any real significant escape from the sun. This leaves you with just a couple options: 1) Hike early in the morning to escape the heat, or 2) Try out out some of the hikes from this list below.

All of these hikes offer a considerable amount of shade, but none of them keep you entirely out of the sun. So be sure to still wear your sunscreen! All of these shady hikes are within 90 minutes of Denver. Explore the individual trail profiles to get a sense of difficulty level and distance. We'll keep adding to this set as we find more hikes near Denver that offer a significant amount of shade.

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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 ...
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High Line Canal Hike – County Line to Fly’n B Park

The High line Canal starts in the foothills and meanders over 60 miles through Denver, creating a treelined hiking and biking thoroughfare in the middle of the city. This stretch in Littleton, Colorado takes you past Fly'n B Park. Take the path south and you'll find yourself in Writer's Park. Scroll down for the trail snapshot, and for further details ...
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Jasper Lake Hike in Indian Peaks

Jasper Lake requires a 5.5-mile (one-way) hike into the mountainous, wildflower-laden Indian Peaks Wilderness. Just 40 minutes outside of Boulder Colorado and about 1hr 15 minutes from Denver, the trail to Jasper Lake gets its start at the Hessie Trailhead. Travel an additional mile beyond Jasper to see Devils Thumb, a striking rock formation that looms above Devil's Thumb Lake ...
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Lost Lake Hike Near Nederland

Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of ...
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Mallory Cave Hike in Boulder

Mallory Cave is a 1.4-mile, moderate hike up into red rock formations of the Boulder Flatirons to a gated cave. Just 40 minutes from Denver, the trail to Mallory Cave was one of the earliest established recreational trails along the Front Range of Colorado. Explore the full trail profile for trail map, driving direcitons, photos, and tips for his hike ...
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Forest and Meadow Loop at Lookout Mountain Nature Center

Meadow & Forest Loop Trails at Lookout Mountain Nature Center

If you are looking for a family hike near Denver, this is a perfect trail, especially if you are getting started hiking with your kids in Colorado and want to guarantee a good experience. It's short, there's wildlife, and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center. Take a picnic lunch, just watch out for the squirrels; they'll run of with your dessert ...
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Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon Creek

The Mesa Trail south of Boulder, Colorado, rambles across wild open country at the base of the iconic Flatirons. Hike a 4.1 mile loop or an 8.4 mile out-and-back option through pine woods, verdant creek draws, and flowering meadows. Explore the full Mesa Trail profile for this southern segment of one of our favorite dog-friendly hikes near Denver. Trail Snapshot: ...
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ponderosa pine arched over mt galbraith trail with foothills at sunset near denver hike

Mt. Galbraith Loop via the Cedar Gulch Trail

Hiking Mt. Galbraith near Golden, Colorado will spoil you with it's 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. This Colorado hiking trail is a moderate ...
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Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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

Our kids loved this 2.5 mile loop hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The trail sports lots of shade, panoramic views of snowcapped peaks, wildflowers, and trickling brooks. Be sure to see the details below regarding an annual raptor closure that detours one segment of this hike. Explore the full Raccoon Loop Hike profile for trail map, driving directions, ...
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Soldier Canyon Falls Hike in Lory State Park

Soldier Canyon Falls in Lory State Park is a seasonal waterfall located just a few minutes from the trailhead. Just 25 minutes from Fort Collins, this makes for a pleasant afternoon hike and because Lory State Park has over 20 miles of hiking trails, hikers can easily add additional hikes to their day trip. Explore the full Soldier Canyon Falls ...
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Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

These hikes along Spruce Mountain near Larkspur, Colorado offer both expansive vista of Colorado's rolling green hills and a unique view of Pikes Peak. Spruce Mountain is a tall butte just 45 minutes south of Denver. This hiking trail follows the outer edge of the mountain giving you a great 360 degree view of the area. Check out the entire ...
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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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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


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10 Colorado Waterfall Hikes One Mile or Less

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

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

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

    Rifle Falls Near Rifle, Colorado

  • Rifle Falls Near Rifle, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.2 to 1.5 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

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

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    Cornet Falls in Telluride, Colorado

  • Cornet Falls in Telluride, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.5 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 6.5 Hours

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

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    Adams Falls Near Grand Lake, Colorado

  • Adams Falls Near Grand Lake, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.6 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

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

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    Fish Creek Falls Near Steamboat, Colorado

  • Fish Creek Falls Near Steamboat, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.5 Miles Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 3 Hours

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

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    Zapata Falls Near Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park

  • Zapata Falls Near Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park

  • Distance: 0.8 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 4 Hours

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

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    Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


    Treasure Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Treasure Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Distance: 1 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 4 Hours 45 Minutes

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

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    Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs

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

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

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

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    Whitmore Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • Whitmore Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.25 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy

    Drive Time from Denver: 6 Hours

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

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    Silver Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Silver Falls Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

  • Distance: 0.4 Mile Round Trip

    Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

    Drive Time from Denver: 5.5 Hours

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

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    North Clear Creek Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

  • North Clear Creek Falls Near Lake City, Colorado

Distance: 0.1 Mile Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy

Drive Time from Denver: 5 Hours

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

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Map of Colorado Waterfall Hikes One Mile or Less


platte river along trail in waterton canyon hike near denver in spring with blooming bushes in foreground and foothills in background

Top 10 Spring Hikes Near Denver

Where are the best trails to hike in the Spring near Denver? We've created this top 10 list of the best Spring hikes near Denver so you can get your boots out and discover some beautiful Colorado landscapes.

Winter holds Colorado in its grip for about half of the year. Then, before you know it, Spring appears, and Summer follows quickly on its heels. On the Front Range, near Denver, we also get some of our heaviest snowfall in March and sometimes in April. So, Spring hikes can be muddy, and ice can build up on segments of trails that escape the direct light of the sun. For that reason, we've tried to collect a set of hikes where Spring gets an early start. Still, if you expect to encounter snow and ice, we recommend wearing traction devices, like YakTrax. Our hope is that you'll be able to find a great hike during this unpredictable--but beautiful--time of year.

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  • Alderfer Three Sisters Park in Evergreen

  • Distance: .2 to 10 mile+ loop Miles

    Drive Time: 40 minutes from Denver

    Alderefer and Three Sisters park is a choose-your-own-adventure experience. Download the park map to get familiar with the significant network of trails, then create a hike out of it. Hike up to the sisters to gain views into the quaint town of Evergreen and beyond.
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  • South Rim Loop at Roxborough State Park

  • Distance: 3 Miles

    Drive Time: 45 minutes from Denver

    Red Rock formations against the brilliant green of Spring. The South Rim Trail at Roxborough State Park takes hikers to several overlooks for some of the best panoramas in the Denver area.
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  • Sunset Loop at White Ranch

  • Distance: 2 Miles

    Drive Time: 45 minutes from Denver

    White Ranch sits just north of Denver in the green of the foothills. This 2 mile hike combines trails to form what we've named the Sunset Loop--though it's equally good for viewing the sunrise.
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  • Mount Sanitas in Boulder

  • Distance: 2-3 Miles

    Drive Time: 45 minutes from Denver

    Mt. Sanitas is a local favorite--and for good reason. A refreshing brook cuts through the valley floor, and the higher elevations of the hike offer a demanding workout. Explore the full trail profile for driving directions, map, and more trail info.
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  • Spruce Mountain Near Larkspur

  • Distance: 1.5 to 4 Miles

    Drive Time: 50 minutes from Denver

    Spruce Mountain is unique because the trail takes hikers up to the top of a table mesa. The trail then follows the rim and affords fantastic views to Pikes Peak in the south, and to the stretches of the greenland plains to the east.
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  • Davis Ponds Loop at Staunton State Park

  • Distance: 2 Mile Loop

    Drive Time: 45 minutes from Denver

    There are many places to explore in Staunton State Park, and we've encountered a lot of ice on some of the trails in the early Spring. However, the Davis Ponds Loop is more open to soak the sunlight. The ponds make a great destination hike and are stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout.
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  • Enchanted Mesa At Chautauqua Park

  • Distance: 2 Miles

    Drive Time: 40 minutes from Denver

    This hike in Boulder's Chautauqua Park takes you through beautiful stands of ponderosa pine along the prominent flatirons formation. You also have a lot of options to explore in the larger network of trails in Chautauqua park.
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  • Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks

  • Distance: 6 Miles

    Drive Time: 25 minutes from Denver

    Iconic Red Rocks Park offers some of the best trails close to the city. This trail that stretches between Red Rocks and Matthew-Winters Park is perfect for a hike, mountain bike, or trail run.
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  • South Valley Park in Littleton

  • Distance: .5 to 3 Miles

    Drive Time: 30 minutes from Denver

    South Valley is my go-to spot for getting outside. Just a short drive and you are tucked away between the hogback and the foothills in an expanse valley riddled with red rock.
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  • Waterton Canyon Trail

Distance: 2 to 12.4 Miles

Drive Time: 35 minutes from Denver

The Waterton Canyon trail follows the Platte River back into the foothills. During the spring this place is in bloom. Perfect for a picnic lunch or dinner, there are picnic areas along the way. Read the full trail profile to get the details.
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