The Colorado Rocky Mountains have some of the best hiking in America. No matter if you are an experienced hiker or a novice, there is a trail in Colorado for everyone, and all of them offer scenic views and maintained routes.
Hiking in Colorado is a great way to experience this colorful state. These trails will satisfy hikers of varying skill and allow them to truly experience the Rockies. Before you set out on a hike, always check the weather and the distance, because weather can change quickly in the mountains even in the summer. With that said, enjoy the state’s great outdoors with these 15 best hiking trails in Colorado.
A list of Colorado’s best hiking trails wouldn’t be complete without the hike up the state’s highest peak, Mount Elbert. The trailhead is just south of Leadville, and the route up this 14,439-foot mountain is fairly moderate. Anyone in relatively good physical condition could conquer it but not without gaining 4,700 feet in elevation first. Mount Elbert is the second highest peak in the continental United States. The views from this trail are absolutely epic.
Located in the San Juan Mountains, the scenic views on the drive to the Blue Lakes Trail will be just as rewarding as the hike itself. This 6.3-mile roundtrip trail is along three scenic lakes. The trail’s difficulty is rated as moderate and is highly trafficked, so make sure to get an early start here to catch a moment of solitude.
The trail to Chasm Lake leads to a high alpine lake that lies below one of the state’s most iconic 14’ers (14,000+ foot mountain), Longs Peak. This 8.4-mile out and back hike to Chasm Lake is moderate to strenuous due to the switchbacks. However, the spectacular views of Longs Peak and Chasm Lake are worth the effort. For those seeking a challenge, hike further to Longs Peak if the weather is clear.
The Barr Trail is the most popular route to take to summit the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. This 13-mile (one-way) trail to the top gains 7,800 feet in elevation and is sure to boast incredible views from the forest to high alpine. The Barr Trail should only be attempted by those that are in fit physical condition. If you do decide to hike the Barr Trail, enjoy a well-marked route that is easy to follow.
The popular Incline Trail in Manitou Springs is sure to get your heart pumping by climbing up 2,610 steep steps. Built from a historic rail line, this trail gains 2,000 feet in elevation in just one little mile. Take the Barr Trail down four miles for an easier decline to complete a loop. Since the Incline Trail is heavily trafficked, make sure to get an early start to avoid crowds.
The Garden of the Gods is a park that shouldn’t be missed if visiting Colorado Springs. The park has numerous paved and gravel trails that boast incredible views of Pikes Peak and red rock formations. The trails in the Garden of the Gods are easy, and some are wheelchair accessible. If you are looking for a challenge, the Garden of the Gods is also a great rock climbing and bouldering destination. This beautiful place is a hotspot during the summer however. Typically prepare for crowds if visiting in the summertime.
Near Grand Lake, the Mount Ida Trails brings hikers to the summit of Mount Ida. The hike traverses through some incredible views along the Continental Divide. This trail is rated as moderate, since it is 9.3 miles roundtrip and exposes hikers above tree line.
Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake is a place that shouldn’t be missed. The hike to Bear Lake is easy, but hike further on other trails via the Bear Lake Trailhead. Head up to Flattop Mountain or take a quick hike to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and visit Loch Vale or Mills Lake. The Bear Lake Loop is a great option for beginners. If visiting during the busy summer months, take the free park shuttle to the trailhead.
Known as one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in Colorado, the Hanging Lake Trail is a moderate, 3.2-mile heavily trafficked hike near Glenwood Springs. This trail leads hikers up to a stunning lake that is suspended in Glenwood Canyon. Check out gorgeous views of the lake, waterfalls and the area’s unique hanging plant community. In 2011 the Secretary of the Interior designated Hanging Lake as a National Natural Landmark.
Located in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the High Dune Trail is a loop that traverses through the tallest dunes in North America. Accessible year-round, this 2.5-mile trail is not marked. The best way to hike this path is to stick to the tops of the sandy ridges, which will assure the best views.
The area near the Maroon Bells has become one of the most scenic places to visit in Colorado. Furthermore, the southwest view of the Maroon Bells peaks is known to be one of the most photographed spots in the state. Any trail near the Maroon Bells-Snowmass area is sure to be wonderful. However, the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail is a moderate and scenic 1.8-mile loop that rewards hikers with a stunning view of the Maroon Bells peaks reflecting off a lovely lake.
Boulder’s iconic rock formation, the Flatirons, is a must-do hike while visiting this eclectic city. This 2.8-mile heavily trafficked trail is recommended for those who are physically fit, since this trail does gain 1,500 feet in just one mile. The trail brings you to the first Flatiron, where climbers commonly rappel off the summit of this rock formation. Head further on the trail to reach the second Flatiron.
To avoid the crowds at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, head two miles south to Red Rock Canyon. This area features 10 miles of connected trails for any skill level. The trails pass through incredible red rock formations and boast great views of Garden of the Gods.
The St. Mary’s Glacier Trail, located nine miles north of Idaho Springs, brings hikers through a forest and to St. Mary’s Lake. Above the lake is St. Mary’s Glacier, which is actually a year-round snowfield. Hike up the snowfield to catch incredible views of the Rockies to the west, or ski, glissade or sled the snowfield for a real Colorado experience.
Devil’s Head Lookout Trail is a popular hike in the Front Range of Colorado, located near Sedalia. The 2.7-mile out and back trail climbs 950 feet in 1.4 miles. At the end of the trail is a fire outlook, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Climb the 143 stairs up the fire outlook to experience 360-degree views. This hike boasts wildflowers in the spring and summer and fall foliage in autumn. Anyone in moderate physical condition could easily conquer this iconic trail.