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Lifestyle, Outdoor Adventures, Travel

Amazing Hikes in the Front Range

Colorado is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, peaceful mountain lakes, valleys, and forests. One of the best ways to see colorful Colorado is by hiking the miles of trails it has to offer. The best part about Colorado is that you don’t need to travel hours for an epic view. Some of the most beautiful hikes are only an hour’s drive from Denver. Explore Colorado with these amazing hikes in the Front Range! Pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab your hiking boots, and meet us in the mountains!

James Peak Trail

Rated: Hard

Length: 8 miles – Out & Back

Elevation gain: 2,952 ft

Location: Near Black Hawk, Colorado

Pet Friendly: YUP! Must be leashed at all times.

Take in breathtaking views on this long, gorgeous hike. The trail may be crowded until you hit the glacier, many stop there to take in the views and head back down. Continue up the trail toward the summit to see the lake from above and the beautiful mountains in the distance! The summit can get chilly, so be sure to bring extra layers and be prepared for snow patches no matter which season you hike this trail.

On the way back to Denver from your beautiful hike, stop in Idaho Springs for some Beau Joe’s Pizza or a beer and wings and Tommy Knockers. If the day isn’t too late, and you still have some energy, the stores in downtown Idaho Springs are always fun to explore! Grab a cup of joe and wander through boutiques, souvenir shops, a used gear shop, and so much more.

Visit All Trailshttps://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/james-peak-trail for trail conditions and additional information about James Peak Trail.

Lost Lake

Rated: Moderate

Length: 4 miles – Out & Back

Elevation gain: 36 ft

Location: Indian Peaks Wilderness – Near Nederland, CO

Pet Friendly: YUP!

Lost Lake Trail is a hike everyone should experience at least once! Its easy access, short distance, and incredible views make this hike perfect. The best part, is there are 8 designated campsites that allow you to stay longer than just the out & back! Lost Lake Trail has it all, from a rushing river you cross, not once but three times, a beautiful aspen forest, and a mountain lake. Modern Hiker made a great blog about the details of this hike, if you have extra time, or are more curious about the adventure, check it out here.

Grab yourself a cup of joe and a morning treat at the New Moon Bakery & Cafe before your morning trek. Then, treat yourself to some artisan wood fire pizza and craft beer at Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse after the hike. Once your hunger is satisfied, check out some live music, wander the shops or ride the historical Carousel of Happiness.

Visit All Trails for trail conditions and more.

Sprague Lake

Rated: Easy

Length: 0.8 miles – Loop

Elevation gain: 36 ft

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park – Near Estes Park, CO

Pet Friendly: Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed.

Opened year-round, this hike is super short with captivating views! Part of the Rocky Mountain National Park, this hike is the perfect pit stop for lunch, birdwatching, and even fishing. It is also popular for snowshoeing and the occasional wedding location. Many say Sprague Lake is great for sunrises, and a great place to spot moose! If you’re an earlier riser, make Sprague Lake your first stop in your RMNP adventure. Visit All Trails for more details about current trail locations, and Rocky Mountain National Park site for additional trail information.

Other beautiful places to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park include Cascade Falls, Lily Lake Loop, Lake Haiyhah, Dream Lake, and many many more.

Visit the National Parks site for road closure information, and additional info on trails in RMNP.

Silver Dollar Lake

Rated: Moderate

Length: 4.2 miles – Out & Back

Elevation gain: 1,085 ft

Location: Guanella Pass

Pet Friendly: YUP! May be off-leash in some areas!

Silver Dollar Lake is about an hour from Denver and located in one of the most beautiful fall peeping locations, Guanella Pass! Known for its amazing birdwatching, hiking and fishing experiences, this hike is a must. Arrive early for a good parking spot, and take your time on this moderately scaled trail. It’s best to visit this trail March – September due to the snow and potential road closures during the winter months. Stay up-to-date on trail conditions by following All Trails.

After your hike, take a walk down historic Georgetown. Grab a bite to eat at Coopers on the Creek, or grab a brew at any of the local breweries.

Butler Gulch

Rated: Hard

Length: 5.5 miles – Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1,814 ft

Location: Near Empire, CO

Pet Friendly: Yup! Please keep leashed at all times.

Butler Gulch Trail is beautiful all year round. This 5.5-mile hike is ranked hard, but worth every step with rewarding views. It’s advised (but argued) to take the loop clockwise through the steep rocky section. Explore this trail on your backcountry skis, snowshoes, or on foot (if not in the winter). Explore the Spruce and fir forest with waterfalls and old mines.

Plan for a big day in the mountains by adding Whitewater rafting to your agenda and finish off the day in Idaho Springs with dinner at Clear Creek Cider & Eatery.

For additional trail information and seasonal road closures, visit All Trails.

Elk Falls Pond

Rated: Moderate

Length: 9.4 miles – Out & Back

Elevation gain: 1200 ft

Location: Near Conifer, CO

Pet Friendly: Yup! May be off-leash in some areas!

Explore Staunton State Park with the Elk Falls Pond. There is a fee to enter, so be prepared for that! This hike is filled with wildflowers, the pond, and the falls at the very end of the trail. Bring your rock climbing gear and enjoy the climbing wall partway through and breathe in the mountain air as you explore the pines, aspens, and meadows.

Mountain bikers and horses are also welcome on this trail. Be sure to arrive early to get a good parking spot and a less crowded hiking experience! Lots are usually full by mid-morning. Learn more about Elk Falls Pond and other hiking spots in Staunton State Park by visiting All Trails.

After the long hike, jump in your car and head over to Evergreen for a beautiful lake picnic or visit a number of their tasty restaurants. Some of our favorites are Cactus Jack’s, Lariat Lodge, Campfire, and Little Bear.

Mount Sanitas Peak Trail

Rated: Hard

Length: 2.6 miles – Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1,259 ft

Location: Near Boulder, CO

Pet Friendly: Yup! Please keep leashed at all times.

Start your morning with a short, but challenging hike in beautiful Boulder. Mount Sanitas Peak Trail has a quick incline and rocky trail causing this hike to be more difficult. The views of Boulder and the mountains to the north and west make it totally worth it! Beat the crowd by arriving at the summit for a sunrise surprise!

Visit All Trails for more information about Mount Sanitas Peak

Seven Bridge Trail

Rated: Moderate

Length: 3.5 miles – Out & Back

Elevation gain: 912 ft

Location: North Cheyenne Canon Park – Near Manitou Springs, CO

Pet Friendly: Yup! Please keep leashed at all times.

This trail was perfectly named after the seven small bridges you’ll cross throughout the entire hike! Just outside of Manitou Springs, this hike is beautiful as you follow the creek all the way through. During the springtime, but river cascades powerfully down the canyon. This trail is best hiked from March through November due to the snow, but is open year-round.

Some have hiked this with young children, taking breaks in the creek and enjoying the large rocks on the side of the trail. For more trail conditions and information, visit All Trails.

After your quick hike, hit up Penny Arcade – to play all the old-school arcade games.

Mount Galbraith Loop

Rated: Moderate

Length: 4 miles – Loop

Elevation gain: 928 ft

Location: Mount Galbraith Park – Near Golden, CO

Pet Friendly: Yup! Please leash at all times.

Located very close to Golden, this is a popular trail for hiking and even trail running! Whether you like to take it slow or race around, this trail is moderately scaled with only a 928 feet of elevation gain. Enter the trail head just off of the Golden Gate Canyon road and follow the Cedar Gulch Trail as it encircles Mount Galbraith. As you round the peak you can see views of not only Golden, but Denver and the Coors Plant as well! Gaze at the interesting rock formations and animal trails! Keep your eyes peeled, you may just have an animal friend join you!

Visit All Trails for trail conditions and additional information.

After your lovely hike, be sure to swing down to Golden, walk the streets, tube the river, and eat at one of the many tasty restaurants and breweries. Our favorites include The Golden Mill, Woody’s, Buffalo Rose, and Trailhead Taphouse & Kitchen.


For more ways to explore Colorado, check out our post about Winter Activities Beyond the Slopes, Best Fourteeners in Colorado for Beginners, and Discover 7 Incredible Colorado State Parks.

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