5 Great Hiking Trails in Colorado

By Madison Dragna

5 Great Hiking Trails in Colorado

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With boundless natural beauty in Colorado, it can be tough to choose a spot to hike! But there are a few hiking trails across the state that are beloved by Coloradans and tourists alike. Make sure to grab the proper footwear and check weather conditions before you embark on your journey! Each of these trails offer easy to moderate terrain, so everyone in the family can enjoy it. With the accompaniment of awe-inspiring scenery, you’ll enjoy every moment on these five great hiking trails in Colorado.

1. Garden of 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. 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 Perkins 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.  However, 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. So hit the trails early to find some solitude, along with an incredible sunrise with likely 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, a number 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 by the lake. 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.

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3. Bear Lake Loop, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO

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. 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, Aspen, CO

Maroon Lake is Colorado’s most iconic scenic spot. This stunning view of the 14,000-foot mountains reflecting off the lake has earned the title of the “most photographed” spot in the state. For a beautiful yet short hike, take a stroll along the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail. The trail 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 stunning. Now the Maroon Bells are actually the color maroon—the mineral hematite, which contains iron, is present in the mountain rock. 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 the University of Colorado-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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