Best Hiking in Colorado: Our Top 8 Trails

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The Best Hiking in Colorado: Our Top 8 Trails

Colorado is world famous for its natural resources. It has a long history of attracting people from all reaches of the globe to enjoy what its lands produce! In the 21st century, people have begun to flock to Colorado’s mountains to reap the benefits of outdoor adventure, and for good reason! Colorado has some of the best hiking trails in the world!

By far, the best hiking trails in Colorado that you can’t miss in 2021 are:

1. Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail

2. Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

3. Lily Pad Lake Trail

4. Saint Mary’s Glacier Trail

5. Devil’s Head Lookout Trail

6. Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock Trail

7. Mount Garfield Trail

8. North Mount Elbert Trail 

1 Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail

Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail
Photo via Ben Cappellacci/Flickr

Location: Snowmass Village, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Dogs: No

Best Feature: The Maroon Bells Mountains

One of the most iconic spots in Colorado is the base of the Maroon Bells. They are two of the most photographed “14ers” in the state! Due to popularity, be sure to plan ahead and get a permit before embarking on this easy 1.9-mile loop hike. 

2 Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

Red Rocks Trading Post Trail
Photo via J Dimas/Flickr

Location: Morrison, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: Views of Red Rocks Amphitheatre 

Just minutes west of Denver, this easy 1.5-mile hike rewards its visitors with stunning views of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre! You’ll want to go early for this one because of its popularity and the lack of shade. Be sure to bring a camera too so you can capture the unique rock formation that has been outfitted to be a pretty well-known concert venue!

3 Lily Pad Lake Trail

Lily Pad Lake Trail
Photo via Angi English/Flickr

Location: Silverthorne, CO

Difficulty: Easy

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: Lily Pad Lake

West of Denver and through the Eisenhower Tunnel lies Summit County and the Lily Pad Lake Trail! This is an excellent trail to help get your kids accustomed to hiking over longer distances as it stretches just over 3 miles round trip. There are plenty of signs around to keep you on track to viewing your reward, which is the scenic Lily Pad Lake. Keep an eye out for wildflowers too – especially the Colorado state flower, the Colorado Columbine!

4 Saint Mary’s Glacier Trail

Location: Idaho Springs

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: Amazing views at the top

Saint Mary’s Glacier is a great hike to crush if you are short on time. It is slightly short of 2 miles round trip, but you gain just over 800 feet in elevation. If you’re going during the summer, be sure to bring plenty of bug spray to ward off mosquitos! Winter is a great time of year to partake in this hike as you can snowshoe up and ski down this popular back country ski area!

5 Devil’s Head Lookout Trail

Devil’s Head Lookout Trail
Photo via Ken Lund/Flickr

Location: Larkspur, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: The old fire tower lookout

Travel back in time on this awesome hike! Devil’s Head Tower was used long ago as a method for watching for wildfires. You can still climb to the top of the tower after you complete the first half of the 2.5 mile out-and-back trail! 

6 Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock Trail

Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock Trail
Photo via Kimon Berlin/Flickr

Location: Fort Collins, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: Horsetooth Falls and views of the Front Range

Make sure you have been doing your cardio and your squats before this one! At just under 6.5 miles, you’ll gain over 1,500 feet in elevation to view amazing sights from the top of your climb. You’ll also be rewarded by the view of Horsetooth Falls. 

*Pro-tip* To witness a truly breath-taking scene, visit in the winter to see an emerald-colored frozen stream of water! Horsetooth Falls freezes in the winter, which produces this unique feature!

7 Mount Garfield Trail

Location: Grand Junction, CO

Difficulty: Hard

Dogs: Yes, must be leashed

Best Feature: Views of the Grand Valley from the top

Get ready to sweat on this one!

The Mount Garfield Trail is one of the most grueling hikes on this list. It covers about 2 miles of trail, but you’ll gain over 2,000 feet in elevation! You begin the hike at the base of Mount Garfield, which is located just off of I-70. It pretty much goes straight up a spine of rock that comes off of the side of the cliffs, leaving little room for error!

Be sure to bring plenty of water and to start early on this one. There is almost no shade, so the earlier you can get out, the better!

8 North Mount Elbert Trail

North Mount Elbert Trail
Photo via Michael Mangin/Flickr

Location: Leadville, CO

Difficulty: Hard

Dogs: Yes

Best Feature: Summiting Mount Elbert and the views from the top

Ready to test your physical and mental endurance? Then you might be ready for the toughest hike on this list, Mount Elbert.

Mount Elbert is one of the 58 “14ers” that populate the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. At 14,440 feet, those that make it to the top can claim that they have climbed to the highest point in Colorado, which is no small feat!

Be sure to go early in the morning for this one. Afternoon thunderstorms roll in like clockwork at altitude, so you’ll want to plan to begin hiking down from the summit before noon. You’ll also want to take your time with this one. Altitude sickness can absolutely wreck you if you go up too fast. If you leave early in the morning, you should have no problem climbing the 4,471’ to the top of this 9.3 mile out-and-back hike!

Final Thoughts on Colorado Hiking Trails

Colorado is full of amazing destinations and hiking trails all over the state. Be sure to check out each one of these wonderful trails on your next visit! And when you’re done, don’t forget to stop into the towns that are at the base of these trails to grab a nice cold drink and some premium food to reward yourself for crushing a high-altitude hike!

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