Where to Go Hiking Near Denver

The hike up to Crystal Mill is difficult but well worth it
The hike up to Crystal Mill is difficult but well worth it | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Georgie Young
2 September 2021

The world once rushed to Denver in pursuit of gold; now, they come to hike. Gold Rush-era cowboys may have got around these mountainous lands on horseback, but these days the best way to explore is on foot. There are almost too many walking trails to choose from, so Culture Trip has asked local insiders to recommend the best ones to help inspire your next trip.

Feeling inspired? You can enjoy several outstanding hikes as part of Culture Trip’s eight-day small-group Colorado and Utah adventure, led by our local insider.

Mt Falcon Hiking Trail

Hiking Trail
A distant view of Red Rocks Amphitheatre from Mt Falcon Park, Colorado.
© Brian Wolski / Alamy Stock Photo

The Mount Falcon trail has all the hallmarks of a great family hike: leisurely, not-too-steep strolls through long-grassed meadows, impressive views of Denver and the Red Rocks Mountains, and even the ruins of a castle crumbling away some three miles uphill from the car park. Even better, it’s only a 25-minute drive from Denver. Make sure to factor in time to scramble to the top of the Fire Tower for even better vistas over the dramatic scenery, or, for more advanced hikers, soak up the views from the steeper eastern incline. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

North Table Mountain Trail

Hiking Trail
Golden, Colorado - Runners in North Table Mountain Park, a mesa overlooking Denver.
© Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo

The Table Mountain trail is one of Colorado’s signature hikes. The flat-topped mesa is one of the mountainous skyline’s most prominent natural skyscrapers, and reaching the top promises brilliant views, snaggle-toothed rock formations and even deer and elk grazing on the higher ground. Don’t forget your water bottle as you ascend – this is an exposed climb and as such offers little in the way of shade. However, on your way back down to Denver, make sure to stop off at the Coors Brewery for a well-deserved beer. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

White Ranch Park

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail

It’s a white-knuckle drive to White Ranch Park. The road is scribbled along the side of Golden Gate Canyon and is the domain of daredevil bikers who race along its dizzying twists and turns. The hiking itself is mercifully less precipitous. There are 20 miles of routes to choose from, all of which meander through rocky fields and meadows at a gentle incline. It’s often fairly busy with families on a summery weekend, so you’ll have to join the bunfight early to sneak onto one of the picnic tables to enjoy your lunch with a view. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

Red Rocks Park and Ampitheatre

Music Venue, Natural Feature
© Efrain Padro / Alamy Stock Photo

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is, according to Rolling Stone, the best outdoor concert venue in the world. Everyone from Bruce Springsteen to The Beatles have played to these red stones, but to enjoy a different type of rock, take to the surrounding hiking territory. Here, you’ll loop through terracotta paths, burnt orange monoliths and caves etched out of the ancient sandstone. Avoid melting in the Colorado sun by completing this trail in the morning, which also leaves you with the rest of the day to catch a concert or outdoor film at the amphitheatre. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

Three Sisters/Alderfer State Park

Park, Natural Feature

The best part of this mountainous trail is its summit that sits a cool 8,000ft (2,438m) above sea level. To get here, though, it’s a tough six-mile hike through steep terrain that only more advanced hikers should attempt as the altitude can make things tricky. Still, the lower environs are heaving with photo-ready scenery, including wind-teased ancient pines and tall whispering grasses. Get here early – you’ll not only have the trail to yourself, but you’ll be able to nab one of the extremely limited parking spots. Recommended by local insider Rose Corbett

St Mary's Glacier

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail

In winter, St Mary’s Glacier is a hazardous snowy pass, but in the summer, the ice thaws enough to reveal a pretty green lake surrounded by wild flowers. The short and picturesque hike to the lake is good for beginners, and the ice never fully melts, meaning that there’s a frozen stretch of hill that’s excellent for rudimentary sledging. On a hot day, round off a sweaty hike to the top of the glacier by leaping off the cliff and into the lake’s icy waters – not for the faint-hearted. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

Crystal Mill

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail, Historical Landmark

The hike to Crystal Mill is hard. Nine miles of narrow, uphill terrain trickle past stomach-lurching drops and, at an elevation of 1000ft (305m), the altitude can be sickening. Crystal Mill itself, however, is spellbinding. The creaky boards of the hundred-year-old abandoned mill are stacked atop a rocky precipice hidden deep in the depths of Crystal Cascade and surrounded by lush, green forests. Cobalt-colored waters swoosh down over ash-colored rocks, collecting in a sparkling lake below that you can take a blissful dip in for a $10 fee. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

Echo Lake Park

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Colorado Echo Lake and Rocky Mountains. Colorado Scenery, USA.
© Tomasz Zajda / Alamy Stock Photo

This subalpine lake is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Sitting in the shadows of Echo Mountain, its picture-perfect waters are surrounded by dense spruce and fir trees, and there are a number of relatively straightforward hiking trails, too. To eat, either bring your own picnic and munch in the cobblestoned 1930s picnic shelter, or opt for some good ol’ fashioned American comfort food at rustic-chic Echo Lake Lodge. Try the freshly caught trout; it’s divine. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

The Royal Arch Trail at the Flatirons

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

Travel to Boulder just outside of Denver and you can’t miss the Flatirons. These slashes of diagonal rock not only dominate the hillside but form the basis of almost every local business logo, too. The Royal Arch Trail is the most difficult of the hikes up into the Flatirons, but it’s also the most rewarding. Puff your way up four steep miles to reach the Royal Arch – a natural, heavily weathered bend that reaches over the path and perfectly frames one of the Flatiron Peaks. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

Walker Ranch Loop

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

You’ll start and end this eight-mile circular trail at its eponymous rickety white cabin. The Walker Ranch was built by one James Walker in the 1860s, and he and his family lived and worked on the surrounding land for the next few hundred years. The scenery has remained virtually untouched ever since; you half expect to see Walker himself joining you in clambering across meadows, mountains and even a waterfall. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"