9 Stellar Day Hikes Near Denver

When I hear that someone is headed to travel to Colorado, the majority are staying in Denver Рand with good reason. The city is a great, central hub for entrance to the Rockies and is surrounded by fantastic hiking choices. (Oh, and not to mention, is overflowing with delicious restaurants.)

The high quantity and quality of trails offered can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers, however. Should you go to Roxborough, which is around an hour south? Or should you commit to the two hours and head north to Estes?

Well with a bit of tedious planning, paired with an extended weekend, you can likely squish in the great majority of hikes you’d like to do!

In this article, I outline some of my favorite hikes that I have participated in and their following difficulty, beauty, and length.

All of my estimated distances and difficulties sourced are from www.dayhikesneardenver.com – an awesome site, which I utilized a lot when planning, and you should too!


Roxborough State Park

Fountain Valley Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.3 miles

This is the most scenic trail in the park, and also one of the easiest. Once you complete it, you’ll feel like it wasn’t fair because you had to put in so little effort for such stunning views.

South Rim Loop Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 miles

If you still feel like hiking (because Fountain Valley was too easy), the South Rim Loop Trail is scenic as well. Wear a hat to avoid ticks, as you’ll have to hike under some brush.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dream Lake
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.2 miles (starting from Bear Lake)

Do I even have to explain why you should hike this? Look at those views.

Emerald Lake
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.6 miles (starting from Bear Lake)

Once you see how spectacular Dream Lake is, you will be fully convinced to continue onward to Emerald, which is just another mile or so past. FYI though, the incline is more intense.

Idaho Springs

St. Mary’s Glacier
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Distance: 1.5 miles

This hike ends at a gorgeous lake. We shockingly saw people swimming in it – it’s ice melt from the glacier! I’d freeze to death.

Chicago Lakes Trail near Mt. Evans
Difficulty: Hard
Distance: 10 miles

Alright, so I didn’t hike this one thoroughly. We had anticipated to, before finding out we were woefully under-prepared by wearing shorts. That elevation change is cold, y’all. Plan to wear mountain gear and fleece!

You can also drive to the peak – which is TERRIFYING.

Eldorado State Park

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4 miles

This trail takes you up a steep incline before presenting you with a gorgeous view of the Continental Divide. Also, though named Rattlesnake Gulch, the likelihood of seeing a rattler here is far less likely than other trails.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Trading Post Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 miles

This hike is easy but also exposed – if you are hiking in the summer, make sure you wear sunscreen! Once at the top, you’ll have an excellent view of the amphitheater.

Lookout Mountain

Meadow & Forest Loop Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: .6 – .8 miles

This is an ideal family hike. Not only is the trail very easy for kids, it also offers historical perspective. The summit of the mountain itself is where Buffalo Bill chose to be buried, and you can visit his grave site and museum by driving to the top – as well as experience some awesome views.

In conclusion:

While obviously not a fully encompassing list, these hikes are ones I have gone on and enjoyed immensely. I hope that these suggestions pair well with your trip, and have fun hiking!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions on better day hikes nearby? Leave in the comments!

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