With the highest overall altitude in the United States, the Centennial State is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the nation. If you’re searching for the perfect scenic trail, look no more! These are eight of the best day hikes in Colorado.
Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the United States. At an average altitude of 6,800 feet, the snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear lakes make most hikers fall hopelessly in love with the area. Skewing toward easy and moderate trails, it should be easy to find the perfect experience for any experience level.
Pro Tip: Before you start out on your day hike in Colorado, you may want to read these hiking gear reviews from experienced travelers so you have everything you need with you.
Located about 10 miles west of Aspen, Maroon Bells is one of the most beautiful (and most photographed) places in Colorado. Ranging from an easy 1.5-mile (one-way) trek along the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail to a nearly four-mile hike along the Crater Lake Trail, you’ll find many beautiful day hikes in Colorado near these twin peaks in the Elk Mountains.
2. Chautauqua Walking Trails in Boulder
In Boulder, Colorado, the Chautauqua walking trails offer a variety of beautiful day hikes in Colorado. With trails ranging from less than a mile (1.6 km) to as many as 12 miles (19 km), you can take either a point-to-point or a loop route to some of the most scenic hikes in Colorado.
Related Article: Read why Denver, Colorado, is one of the best summer destinations in the US.
3. Mount Flora
Less than an hour west of Denver, Mount Flora is one the easiest (and most rewarding) day hikes in Colorado, if not the US. It’s rated as Class 1 trail, but with a bit of Class 2. Whether you’re a beginner or have advanced hiking skills, this terrain will be just as ideal. It’s approximately 6.1 miles long with a total elevation gain of about 1,800 ft. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be treated to breathtaking scenes of the surrounding mountains and alpine lakes.
Pro Tip: Here’s a resource to help you decode hiking trail classifications.
4. Ice Lake Basin at the San Juan Mountains
The San Juan Mountains near Silverton, Colorado provide some of the best day hikes in Colorado. Ice Lake Basin Trail is a loop about seven miles long with an elevation gain of about 3,100 ft. This Class 2 scenic day hike in Colorado is a perfect summer trek, and you’ll enjoy the view of the lake basin with a blue tint.
5. Lost Man Lake in Pitkin County
Lost Man Lake is an alpine lake located high in the Sawatch Range in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness of White River National Forest near Aspen, Colorado. This seven mile (11 km) trail is only open between May and October, because the rest of the year, snow covers most of the path.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning on a hiking adventure while traveling, be sure to check out these tips for hiking on vacation.
6. Devil's Head Fire Lookout Hike
Located about an hour and a half south of Denver, the Devil’s Head Fire Lookout is a fire lookout tower in Douglas County. This classic day hike in Colorado is about 2.8 miles (4.5 km) round trip with an additional 143 steps to climb the lookout point. But from that vantage point, you’ll be treated to a 360 degree view of Pike National Forest.
Related Article: Read why forest fires are good for the environment, even though they can be terrifying and destroy property.
7. Mount Yale
This day hike in Colorado is a bit more difficult than the rest. Nearly three hours west of Colorado Springs, the Mount Yale trail is approximately nine miles (14.5 km) long and will take about six to eight hours to complete.
Related Article: Read why Colorado Springs is an up and coming US travel destination.
8. Mount Elbert
Mount Elbert is located about an hour and a half north of Mount Yale. This day hike in Colorado takes you to the highest point in Colorado. The most popular hiking trails in this area are categorized as Class 1 and Class 2 giving Mount Elbert the nickname of “gentle giant.”
Pro Tip: Add more quintessential trails to your Colorado hiking bucket list with these recommendations from TheDownLO.
9. Rimrock Trail at Castlewood Canyon State Park
About an hour north of Colorado Springs, Castlewood Canyon State Park offers a variety of canyon trails for a day hike in Colorado. The Rimrock Trail is popular for walking, running, and cycling. This four mile (six km) hike offers gorgeous views of the state park and canyon.
Explore Colorado via These Day Hikes and Other Outdoor Adventures
- Take either a full-day or half-day guided hiking tour through Colorado’s Front Range on this private hiking trip from Conifer, Colorado, about 40 minutes southwest of Denver. Or, see Colorado’s Front Range from a different perspective via this guided mountain biking tour also in Conifer, Colorado.
- Get an introduction to rock climbing with this experience in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado.
- Blend beer and the scenery of Boulder in this Boulder Hike and Beer experience that departs from Denver Union Station.
Have You Taken a Day Hike in Colorado?
Where did you hike? Is there a trail you’d add to this list of the best day hikes in Colorado? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
Ready to Go? Use These Helpful Links to Book Your Trip
- Find low fares and book your plane ticket with Skyscanner and Expedia. Or take the scenic route in an RV from Outdoorsy.
- From hotels to private homes, find the perfect accommodation with Hotels.com or Vrbo.
- Don’t leave home without travel insurance from AXA.
- Need something else to plan your perfect trip? Visit my travel resources page for more trusted partners. Happy wandering!