7 Best Places to Go Hiking in Colorado: Top Colorado Trails

Ice Lake Trail in San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Hiking is a wonderful way to explore nature, enjoy breathtaking scenery, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. When it comes to hiking destinations, Colorado is hard to beat! With its scenic mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, diverse wildlife, and the bounty of great camping in Colorado, the state provides endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

The best hiking in Colorado includes some of the highest peaks in the U.S., such as Pikes Peak and Mount Ida, and ancient stone carvings that will transport you back in time. To ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in the Rockies, check out our top recommendations for hiking spots in Colorado.

Hahns Peak

Hahns Peak Trail and Steamboat Lake in Colorado

Hiking up Hahns Peak offers sweeping vistas and takes you on a journey through Colorado's rugged landscape.Nestled 35 miles north of Steamboat Springs in Routt National Forest, this 10,839-foot mountain was once a flourishing gold mining camp. Today, it offers a moderate to challenging trail as it winds through lush wildflower meadows and dense forests. Don't let the challenge deter you, though, because the journey's reward lies in the stunning panorama that awaits at the top. There, you'll be treated to views as far as Steamboat Lake, Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, and the vast Yampa Valley.

Apart from the views, adventurers can go cross-country skiing in the winter through the snow-covered trees and experience the mountain’s serene beauty in a different way. They can then slalom down the mountain for an exhilarating end to their snowy adventure. Hahns Peak Village, which is near the foothills, is home to several rustic lodges and eateries, which are perfect for a relaxing evening. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set your sights on Hahns Peak. 

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake in Colorado

Hanging Lake Trail takes you through the heart of Glenwood Canyon, known for its travertine geological formations and steep rise. Located in Garfield County, approximately 150 miles west of Denver, the trail is a relatively short 1.2 miles—but don’t let the distance fool you. Due to its steepness and rocky terrain, it's a challenging trek. You'll need to proceed with caution, but the payoff is worth it.

At the trail's end, you'll find Hanging Lake, a natural wonder with pure, cascading waters that seem to hang above the canyon floor. The lush greenery and towering cliff faces will captivate you and leave you in awe of nature's beauty. However, access to the lake is limited to protect its delicate ecosystem. You'll need a permit that can be booked online, so be sure to plan ahead.

Durango-Area Hiking

Hiking With Dogs on Castle Rock Near Durango

Durango is situated in Southwest Colorado, near the Animas River and to the south of the San Juan National Forest. The area boasts over 100 miles of natural surface trails and is home to beautiful features like the Animas River and Lake Nighthorse. Five miles from Historic Downtown Durango, the trails at Junction Creek offer some of the best hiking in Colorado, with bike-friendly paths, varying difficulty levels, and stunning scenery year-round.

If you're up for a challenge, the Goulding Creek Trail is one of the best hiking trails near Durango. This moderate, six-mile hike features about 30 switchbacks leading you through Aspen forests to beautiful views of the Hermosa Cliffs and Engineer Mountain. Before conquering the trail, consider an early-morning start, bringing hiking poles and packing extra water.

For those who prefer running or biking, there are several notable trails to check out. One option is the beginner-friendly 8 Bells Trail, which offers a mix of uphill and downhill sections. Another Durango area option is the six-mile Animas Mountain Trail, which is ideal for intermediate to advanced hikers. Additionally, McCullough Gulch Trail is just one of several dog-friendly hikes in Colorado that you should check out.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Summit Sign

If you're looking for an unforgettable high-altitude adventure, a hike up Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's most famous landmarks, is a must. This magnificent peak stands at an impressive 14,115 feet above sea level, and it’s best accessed from one of Colorado’s best cities, Colorado Springs, which lies at its base. The scenery is so breathtaking that it inspired the lyrics of the song “America the Beautiful,” written in 1893.

The Barr Trail at Pikes Peak is a 26-mile round trip to the summit. While this can be challenging, it’s worth the trek if you prepare accordingly. As you ascend the steep inclines and navigate through rocky terrain, you'll be treated to an awe-inspiring panorama of the Rocky Mountains that’ll have you reaching for your camera. Along the way, alpine meadows burst with vibrant wildflowers, offering splashes of color against the rugged landscape. If you need to take a break during your hike, Barr Camp is open year-round, providing a sanctuary for hikers halfway through the trail.

Mount Ida

Mount Ida Hiking Trail in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

If you're seeking solitude and the untouched beauty of Colorado's high country, Mount Ida is the perfect choice. Nestled in Rocky Mountain National Park—one of Colorado’s pristine national parks—the Mount Ida Trail spans 9.6 miles and reaches around 12,000 feet. Less crowded than other hikes, this journey exposes adventurers to the elements, with unshaded paths, windy landscapes, and clouds casting shadows over the rugged terrain. Hikers may even spot some of the park's wildlife, such as bighorn sheep or mountain chickadees, along the way. 

It's important to prepare for the Mount Ida Trail with proper gear and plenty of water, as the high altitude can make the hike more strenuous. However, for those willing to take on the challenge, it's a memorable and rewarding experience.

As you make your final ascent, you'll be greeted with breathtaking 360-degree views of the park. From the Never Summer Mountains to Shadow Mountain Lake and the vast, undulating terrain of the Continental Divide, the panorama is a feast for the eyes.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde Trail to Petroglyph Point

People have journeyed through Mesa Verde National Park's sloping mesas, expansive vistas, and rust-colored canyons for millennia. Here, trekkers can access nearly 30 miles of park trails, weaving through lookouts and visiting 800-year-old petroglyphs. Mesa Verde National Park is less than 60 miles west of Durango and 30 miles south of the Cortez community

The park’s elevations range from about 6,000 to 8,000 feet, deviating from Colorado's typical high-altitude treks like Hahns Peak and Mount Ida. The trail itself dives into the heart of Puebloan culture, where communities were carved into the sheltered alcoves of the canyons’ walls. You'll find yourself traversing well-preserved cliff dwellings, gazing at panoramic mesa views, and stepping back in time to explore the mysteries of a civilization that thrived over a thousand years ago.

The park caters to hikers of all abilities. For an easy, family-friendly adventure, try the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail. If you're up for a challenge, the Petroglyph Point Hike won't disappoint. Each trail is a journey through nature and history, immersing you in the Southwest's beauty and the park's archaeological wonders.

Alberta Falls

Alberta Falls in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

The Alberta Falls hike is a true gem in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, centrally located to some of Colorado’s best hot springs. It offers an easy yet rewarding adventure, with stunning views of a cascading waterfall set within a breathtaking landscape of aspen and pine trees. This 1.2-mile round-trip hike starts near the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and is accessible for all skill levels.

As you meander through the peaceful forests of aspen and pine, the powerful roar of Alberta Falls will gradually amplify, building anticipation. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by water thundering down a rugged granite gorge, a spectacle particularly impressive in the spring and early summer when fed by melting snow. Beyond the trail, there are many scenic spots, including The Loch and Mills Lake, perfect for taking photos or enjoying a picnic in nature's grandeur.

Preparing for the Best Hiking in Colorado

Every journey starts with a single step, and Colorado’s best hiking offers countless adventures for explorers to enjoy. But before you lace up those hiking boots, preparing adequately for the best experience is important. This includes checking the forecast, researching the trail, packing all necessary gear, and bringing enough water and snacks. It’s also important to let someone know where you’re going, when you plan to return, and to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the area's natural beauty. 

If you're ready to move to Colorado, call Colorado Property Group of RE/MAX with Durango Homes for Sale at (970) 946-0601 to reach a local real estate agent who can help you find your dream home.

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