Once you are in Denver, you will have no problem finding plenty of urban day hikes. You could choose something easy like the South Platte river trail, Highline Canal, or even the Cherry Creek trail to get your legs under you before setting out on the eastern plains or the nearby Rocky Mountains. We have compiled a short list of day hikes near Denver that range from high mountain lakes to arroyos on the Eastern Plains, and they are all within an hour drive from downtown.
1. Waterton Canyon
So, you have dreamed of hiking part of the famous Colorado Trail that traverses the state and now is your chance to accomplish this dream. The Waterton Canyon Trail is considered to be the Denver Terminus of the Colorado Trail and is a great day hike near Denver. The 12-mile roundtrip out and back trail is a moderate level trail. While you are hiking, keep your eye out for wildlife, which is plentiful along the trail, and you can always snap a few photographs of South Platte River as the trail winds alongside this hallmark river of Colorado.
Location: Access to the trail involves a 40-mile drive south from Downtown Denver via South Santa Fe Drive to Deer Creek Road.
2. Chimney Gulch Trail at Windy Saddle Park
If you are in shape and are looking for a day hike near Denver that will reward you with big vistas, then the Chimney Gulch Trail at Windy Saddle Park is for you. This five-mile roundtrip out and back hike will take you up the side of Lookout Mountain where you will be amazed at the gorgeous city and surrounding mountain views. Expect a steep climb on this and take your time to enjoy the wildflowers in the summer.
Location: Access the trailhead by driving U.S. 6 or I-70 Westbound to CO-58 and follow the signs.
3. Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon
For an easy day hike near Denver that puts you in the middle of the eastern slope environment of the state is the Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon. The hike here is picturesque with interesting geologic forms, wildflowers, and plenty of birds. There are several interpretive signs along the Canyon View Nature Trail that explains the natural environment of Castlewood Canyon State Park. The 2.5-mile roundtrip out and back trail is ideal for all types of skill levels.
Location: Access the trail by driving south on I-25 from Denver to CO-83 to Castlewood Canyon State Park.
4. Beaver Loop Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park
A fantastic day hike near Denver that has you amongst aspens and pine trees and affords you views of the surrounding mountains is the Beaver Loop Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The three-mile moderate loop trail has an elevation gain of just over 1,000-feet that will have you humping up a few steep portions. Be prepared to witness plenty of aspen trees, wildlife including an occasional bear and plenty of wildflowers in the summer.
Location: Access to the trailhead begins by driving west on U.S. 6 through Golden and turning on CO-93 until you reach Golden Gate Canyon Road. Follow for 13 miles until you reach Crawford Gulch Road and the Golden Gate Canyon State Park Visitor’s Center where you will find the trailhead.
5. Chicago Lakes within the Mount Evans Wilderness Area
Chicago Lakes Trail is a stunning day hike near Denver that will reward you with big views of Mount Evans and mountain meadows. Chicago Lakes Trail is a 10-mile roundtrip out and back hike. It’s difficult with an elevation gain of over 1,200-feet. Along the way, you will encounter steep portions of the trail and plenty of wildlife such as mountain goats, bighorn sheep and elk. Once at the lake, you can relax and watch the clouds overhead as you gaze at the wonderful scenery.
Location: Access the trail by driving west on I-70 until you reach Idaho Springs. Take CO-103 (Squaw Pass) to Echo Lake where you will find the trailhead on the west side of the lake.
6. Roxborough State Park
Only 40-minutes outside of downtown Denver, you can relish in the beauty of nature at Roxborough State Park. The 4,000-acres of open space are loaded with numerous hiking trails that can accommodate any type of hiker from novice to expert. Spend some time at the historic Waterhouse Homestead, gaze at the amazing red rocks of the Morrison Formation and look around for wildlife that ranges from hundreds of bird species to mule deer. In summer, you’ll also find amazing wildflowers that pop with colors in spring and continue thru the summer months.
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