Colorado has been ranked as one of the best states for hiking, and it’s no wonder why. The state is full of beautiful trails, with some of the most stunning views in all of North America. How can you know what the 10 best hikes and trails in Colorado are though? Well, look no further!
Whether you want an easy stroll along a paved path or you’re someone who prefers an intense fitness challenge on rocky terrain, there’s something for everyone here.
We’ve put together this list of the 10 best hikes and trails in Colorado that you simply must see:
Learn how to pick the right hiking trail for you now.
1. Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake is a Colorado hike that you don’t want to miss. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the country. For good reason: the views are amazing and there’s plenty of adventure along the way!
The hike begins at the top of a mountain and starts out paved, then turns to gravel, dirt, and rock, gradually gaining elevation. It takes most average people 1 hour to reach the top where you’ll get a stunning view of the waterfalls and surrounding forest.
Along the way, you’ll see cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, and seasonal wildlife. You’ll have time to enjoy your surroundings before reaching the lake itself, and when you reach Hanging Lake…well, it’s just magical. The lake is incredibly photogenic, with its blue water reflecting off the surrounding cliffs and trees.
The trail then loops around the lake before heading back down to your car again.
Hanging Lake is one of those hikes that everyone can enjoy. It’s a short trail that’s not too steep or rocky, so it’s perfect for families.
The trail itself is well-marked, with many signs along the way to help you keep your bearings.
It’s also important that you have good shoes with grip (ideally waterproof) or hiking poles because it rains frequently in Colorado and the trail can get slippery.
Reservations are required for this hike and they fill up fast!
Length: 3.86 km Round Trip
2. Glacier Gorge
Glacier Gorge is one of the most popular trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The hike is 5.3 km (3.3 miles), which will take you 1 1/2 hours to complete if you’re moving at a leisurely pace.
It’s a great hike for those who like to see wildlife, as it passes by many ponds and lakes where you can often spot moose and other wild animals drinking from the water. The trail takes you through a variety of landscapes, including aspen forests and pine groves, waterfalls, alpine lakes, glaciers, and breath-taking mountain scenery.
It’s also open year-round but only open during daylight hours during winter months due to heavy snowfall. So, if you’re going during wintertime, be sure that you have proper gear (and know how to use it) before heading out into this beautiful landscape!
This route is well-maintained and accessible, just keep in mind that dogs aren’t allowed on this trail!
Length: 5.3 km
Best for: Backpacking
3. Maroon Lake Trail
Maroon Lake Trail is one of the best trails in Colorado for several
reasons: it’s short, it’s easy, and it offers something for all kinds of hikers.
It is appropriate for all ages and fitness levels, making it an excellent choice for families with small children or people who are looking for a relaxing hike without too much exertion.
The trail itself is well-maintained and well-marked, so you won’t get lost! And while the scenery may not be as dramatic as some other trails in Colorado, it still offers some beautiful views and who doesn’t love seeing Maroon lake? The lake itself is surrounded by emerald green trees and makes for the perfect family picnic location.
If you’re looking for an easy but beautiful hike with plenty to see along the way, Maroon Lake Trail is definitely worth checking out!
Length: 3.05 km
Check out these Colorado family campgrounds where you can camp during your hikes!
4. Lulu City Trail
The Lulu City Trail is a rocky mountain trail that runs through the Colorado Rockies. The trail takes on average 3-4 hours to complete, but you will be constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife as you hike rather than focusing on reaching one particular destination at the end of your hike.
You’ll see gorgeous meadows filled with wildlife, deer, elk, moose and crystal clear rivers and creeks.
There’s also a great viewpoint at the end where you can see Lulu City (a ghost town) in the distance! You may even want to tell the Tale of Camp Lulu (though admittedly it is a different Lulu!)
5. Royal Arch Trail
Boulder is one of the most scenic places in Colorado, and the Royal Arch Trail is one of the best ways to explore it.
This trail is a little bit challenging, but if you’re up for it, it’s well worth the trek. It offers beautiful views of Boulder and the surrounding mountains, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos.
The Royal Arch Trail is also known as “the rockiest trail in Boulder,” so if you’re looking for a challenge that will get your heart rate going, this is definitely the place to go!
The best times to visit this trail are March through October.
Dogs are welcome and might be off-leash in some areas. For everyone’s benefit though, please keep them on leash.
Length: 5 km
Best for: Backpacking/ trail running
6. Fountain Valley Loop Trail – Best Wheelchair Friendly Trail in Colorado
If you’re looking for a great family-friendly trail to explore in Colorado, look no further than the Fountain Valley Loop Trail.
This trail is easy to navigate and takes an average of 1 h 5 min to complete.
You’ll also find that it’s a popular area for bird watching and hiking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
It’s prime rattlesnake territory, so it’s best to stay on the trail. But don’t let that stop you from checking out all the beautiful red rocks and wildflowers that line your path.
There’s not much shade along the way, so make sure you take lots of water with you! You’ll also have to leave pups at home, dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.
Fountain Valley Loop Trail is great for anyone looking for an easy hike with some amazing views. It’s stroller-friendly and wheelchair-accessible too!
Length: 4.2 km
Best for: Beginners and families
7. Colorado Trail – Best Long Distance Trail in Colorado
Out of all the best hikes and trails in Colorado, The Colorado Trail is probably the most famous.
The Colorado Trail is one of the best trails in Colorado, and it’s a must-do for any avid hiker. The trail runs from Denver to Durango and offers some of the most beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains you’ll ever see and that’s just in one section!
It’s not just a hike. It’s a journey, and it will take you through some of the most beautiful, most challenging, and most rewarding terrain in the state.
Learn these backpacking tips and trick to use on your journey.
The Colorado Trail can be hiked in sections or as an entire thru-hike (hiking the entire length of the trail). Each section contains its own challenges and rewards but all share a common theme: beautiful views of mountains, plains, deserts and forests along your journey through Colorado.
There are many opportunities for camping along the trail, so you can spend multiple days exploring the area on foot or by bike.
It’s open year-round (although snowfall can make portions impassable). If you’re feeling ambitious and want to take on the whole thing in one go, know that it takes about three weeks to complete.
Length: 805 km
Best for: Experienced/long-distance hikers
8. Flatirons in Boulder
Don’t let position 8 on the 10 best hikes and trails in Colorado fool you. You will find that this is an amazing hike though difficult for some. The Flatirons Loop is a short but challenging hike that takes you to two of the most popular Flatirons in Boulder Open Space. This trail makes for one of the best hikes in Colorado for hikers and rock climbers who want to get a good workout, as it’s fairly intense. The views from the top are excellent, with snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Take along some binoculars with you to enjoy those wonderful mountain views!
For large parts, this trail is shaded, which makes it perfect for hiking during the summer months.
In the last stretch, the trail becomes extremely rocky so we recommend you wear the appropriate footwear. During colder months it is recommended that hikers bring microspikes or crampons as this route can be very snowy.
It is important to note that these trails are closed: Mon-Thurs from 8am to 5pm!
Length: 4.3 km
9. Mosca Pass Trail
Mosca Pass Trail is a fantastic hike for those who want to get away from it all and experience Colorado’s natural beauty.
It has many different types of terrain, from fields of flowers, and woods with a variety of trees to babbling creeks and rocky mountain sides. It offers plenty of shade along the way if you want to stop for a break or just enjoy some time in nature.
You can take your time exploring the area or race through it depending on your preference. Either way, though, expect breathtaking scenery and plenty of wildlife.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that doesn’t require much effort but delivers big results, this top trail in Colorado is definitely worth checking out!
Pro Tip: Pack some insect repellent if you want to avoid the flies and mosquitoes
Length: 10.3 km
Best for: Solo Hikers/Backpackers
10. Perkins Central Garden Trail – Best Family Friendly Trail in Colorado
Perkins Central Garden Trail is a great place to get away from it all. You will find this trail at the very popular Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. You can spend hours wandering along this easy trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Out of the 10 best hikes and trails in Colorado, this one is the most family-friendly. The trail is paved and flat, so it’s perfect for people of all ages and fitness levels. You’ll find lots of wildlife on the trail, including deer, birds, rabbits, and more!
This short path has some great views of rock formations such as White Rock and Kissing Camels. It also has plenty of spots for kids to climb around on—so bring them along!
If you go early in the morning or late at night (when most people aren’t there), then you’ll have an even more peaceful experience than usual.
Length: 1.8 km
Now that you’ve read about the 10 best hikes and trails in Colorado, we want to know: Which is YOUR favorite? Are there any on this list that we missed? Let us know by commenting below, on our Facebook, or on Reddit!