While probably best known for its skiing, the gorgeous Colorado landscape that surrounds Denver holds just as much potential for outdoor adventuring in the warm weather as it does in the cold. Here's a list of where to find the best Denver hiking trails with breathtaking vistas, stunning waterfalls, and fragrant fields of colorful flowers lie within an hour's drive of Mile High City.
Burro Trail Loop to Windy Peak, Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Only 45 minutes northwest of the city is where you’ll find Golden Gate Canyon State Park, with over 35 miles of hiking trails on 12,000 acres. If you’re looking for a challenge, this approximately 6.5-mile, moderate-to-difficult lollipop loop takes you on a path through wildlife-rich terrain to the panoramic views on Windy Peak with nearly a 1,900-foot elevation. The trail intersects with a number of others in the park so you can make an even longer day or weekend of it if you choose.
Barr Lake Trail, Barr Lake State Park
For those who prefer a more level approach to taking in the Great Outdoors, there’s the almost- 9-mile trail that circles the eponymous body of water in Barr Lake State Park, a mere 30 to 40 mins from Denver. On it are several wildlife viewing stations, and it’s a favorite among bird enthusiasts as more than 350 species have been identified there—including a pair of nesting bald eagles.
Bergen Peak Trail, Elk Meadow Park
Just a 35-minute drive southwest is Elk Meadow Park and, true to its name, it’s a high-traffic zone for herds of these majestic creatures. It’s also home to the out-and-back Bergen Peak Trail: a 10-mile hike rated moderate to difficult that takes you through a wide range of terrain. Be sure to wear sun protection on this one and enjoy traipsing through the park’s fields of wildflowers as you gain more than 2,200 feet in elevation.
Hike to Elk Falls, Staunton State Park
Further south than Elk Meadow Park but still less than 50 minutes from Denver is Staunton State Park, with a moderately difficult 12-mile round-trip hike that takes you to the base of a tiered, 75-foot waterfall. This is a relatively new trail that opened just a few years ago, with the trail before it only allowing access to the top of the falls; now both points are available to hikers and should definitely be taken advantage of. The long trail includes more stunning views, as you’ll gain about 1,500 feet in elevation and hit nearly 9,000 feet at its peak.
Travois Trail, Centennial Cone Park
This 13-mile loop has a 2,000-foot elevation gain and is only about 40 minutes outside the city. Bring ample water for pets if they’re along for the hike, and this is another one you’ll want to be sure to double down on the sun protection for as you’re exposed for long periods of time. On the longer side, it takes you through evergreen forests, meadows full of wildflowers, and some rocky terrain, making it the perfect sampler of classic Colorado beauty.