5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Colorado

By Madison Dragna

5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Colorado

Margaret.W/Shutterstock.com

Hiking trails in Colorado are abundant, but a few stand out among the rest for their awe-inspiring scenery. No matter which trail you decide to hike, make sure to wear the proper footwear and check the weather conditions before embarking. All of these trails feature easy to moderate terrain, so most everyone in your party can enjoy them! Experience the beautiful Colorado outdoors on these five stunning scenic hikes! 

1. Garden in the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, Colorado Springs, CO

For a stress-free hike on either paved or dirt trails, visit the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The trails at this park are easy and interconnected, and some are even wheelchair accessible. This stunning area features sandstone rock formations but there are small boulders and rocks too that are sure to keep kids climbing and entertained (but be safe and keep an eye on them!). Although this is a popular destination to stroll, many rock climbers head to Garden of the Gods to scale the incredible terrain. Now, there are a number of trails to choose from in the Garden of Gods park system. The Central Garden Trail is a classic choice, since it is paved and makes for an easy yet rewarding walk. This trail is accessible by the main parking lot. To avoid the crowds, you may want to walk further to visit other trails, such as the Siamese Twins Trail or the rest of the 15 miles of trail found at Garden of the Gods. Do keep in mind that this park can get busy during the summer months. Therefore hit the trails early to find some solitude, along with an incredible sunrise with views of Colorado Springs’ 14,000-foot mountain Pikes Peak. After you enjoy the scenery, visit the visitor center to learn more about the area or find a souvenir at the gift shop.

2. Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood Springs, CO

The Hanging Lake Trail has gained immense popularity due to the incredible site of Hanging Lake, found in Glenwood Canyon. Now this trail is moderate in difficulty as some areas are rocky and steep. However, numbers of locals and tourists alike have successfully completed the 3.2-mile roundtrip hike. Although Hanging Lake is a freshwater lake, no fishing or swimming is allowed. This incredible spot is fragile, and to preserve its pristine nature, hikers must stay in designated areas. As you hike up to the lake, you will find handrails to help with tricky and steep spots. Once up to the lake, follow the walkway around the lake to take in every angle of its beauty. The water is usually clear enough to be able to see native trout swimming in its waters. This area is also unique due to its large hanging plant community and the waterfall. This beautiful area is well-traveled during the summer months. To avoid crowded trails, consider hiking on weekdays or in the early mornings or off-season months like spring or fall. Since this area is so heavily-trafficked, the trail’s parking lot has a rest area with water fountains, tables, restrooms, and vending machines. 

3. Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Take a trip to one of Colorado’s most majestic national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park. There are hiking trails for all skill levels. However Bear Lake is a popular and easy hike that leads to a number of other hikes if you’re looking for something farther. For example, the Glacier Gorge trailhead is only a short hike from Bear Lake that will lead you to more of Rocky Mountain’s iconic scenes. The Bear Lake trail is a little over a mile that loops around Bear Lake. Since Bear Lake is below tree line, the trees around the lake offer habitat for a variety of wildlife, such as birds, deer, and elk. It’s a perfect place to bird watch during the summer. Keep in mind that summer months in Rocky Mountain can be warm yet rainy during the afternoon, so consider weather conditions before visiting. Don’t miss out seeing the park’s iconic 14’er, Longs Peak, which you can get great views of on the park’s scenic highway, Trail Ridge Road. Since Rocky Mountain National Park gets extremely busy during the summer, a shuttle is provided to bus hikers to the trailhead during the day. 

4. Maroon Lake Scenic Trail

Maroon Lake is Colorado’s most iconic scenic spot. This stunning view of the Maroon Bells, 14,000-foot mountains, reflecting off a lake has the earned the title of “most photographed” spot in the state. For a scenic yet short hike, take a stroll along the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail. This trail is one mile round-trip and changes with the seasons. Wildflower fields make for a stunning view during spring.  However fall provides views of the changing Aspen trees turning from green to bright yellow. For those looking for more hiking options for any skill level, anywhere in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, which is Colorado’s fourth largest wilderness area, is sure to be scenic. Now the Maroon Bells are actually the color maroon—the mineral hematite, which contains iron, is present in the mountain rock. For those visiting during the summer months, the area can be accessed by vehicle in the mornings and evenings but only by bus during the day. This hike is a good adventure for those staying in Aspen, which is only 10 miles away, because the shuttle bus during the summer is accessed via Aspen Highlands Ski Area. 

5. Chautauqua Park, Boulder, CO

This stunning park is home to trails that will take you up to Boulder’s iconic Flatiron rock formations. All the trails at Chautauqua Park range in difficulty and elevation gain. However be prepared to head uphill, especially if heading to the Flatirons. The main trail takes you through a meadow that has exceptional wildflower views during the summer. A variety of people love Chautauqua because it's a great spot for a picnic, easy hike or even a climbing session. Since Chautauqua is only five minutes outside of downtown Boulder and near CU Boulder, the trails can get crowded. Parking is free but can be difficult to find during high-trafficked times. For those who are looking to know more about the area’s natural features, there are a number of guided hikes and presentations at Chautauqua Park. 

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