In terms of sheer picturesque natural beauty, Colorado is easily one of the most breathtaking states in America. And if you’re interested in beautiful hiking trails, there are literally hundreds to choose from throughout this wonderful state. Are you ready to get out there but not sure where to get started? We’ve compiled a list of five trails that offer something for hikers of all skill levels, and that are not only some of the most beautiful trails in Colorado, but some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the entire country!
5. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods Nature Center is a good place to start for novice hikers or for those who aren’t quite ready to immerse themselves in the wild. The central attractions of Garden of the Gods are four gigantic natural red rock formations that are all easily accessible along a paved trail. This paved trail forms a four mile loop that can be hiked in one to three hours, and is amenable to families with strollers or patrons with wheelchairs. The rock formations themselves are quite unique. Products of geologic erosion over millions of years, they now stand in fascinating and improbable formation, with a nice view of Pike’s peak in the background. In addition to the paved loop, the park offers over fifteen miles of more challenging trails which also accommodate horseback riding and are pet friendly. Even for experienced hikers who might not be particularly challenged by these trails, the view of the Siamese Twins, Signature Rock and the “Kissing Camels” rock formations makes Garden of the Gods Nature Center a worthwhile destination.
4. Deer Creek Canyon Park, Morrison
Deer Creek Canyon Park is a nice intermediate level out-and-back trail that crests at the summit of Plymouth Mountain. This 5.6 mile trail is open to hikers year round and is a nice way to build up your hiking skills if you're training for some of Colorado’s higher elevation peaks. At a little over 7000 ft, Plymouth Mountain is roughly half the altitude of Colorado’s four 14,000 ft peaks. Wildflowers bloom in abundance during summer months, adding another dimension of beauty along the way. The trail is also accessible to horseback riders and mountain bikers and gets pretty crowded in warmer weather, but the view from the summit is well worth the two to three hour hike any time of year.
3. Blue Lake, Ward
The Blue Lake Trail, located in the Roosevelt National Forest, is a 5.6 mile out-and-back that meanders through wildflower woodlands and winds around several small creeks and ponds eventually leading to two stunning views of large lakes, Blue Lake and Lake Mitchell. Located near the edge of Colorado’s front range, the view along the trail and from both lakes includes several lovely vantage points for gazing into the distance at the rising of the Continental Divide. Slightly above the timberline, the view from Blue Lake in particular affords views of four different mountain peaks. This trail is only open from mid-June to October, but is absolutely gorgeous and not too challenging to preclude children or the elderly from making the trip!
2. Conundrum Hot Springs, Aspen
At 18.6 miles the Conundrum Hot Springs Trail is easily the longest and most difficult trail to make this list. However, if you’re physically capable, any risk/rewards assessment will probably send you scurrying towards the Aspen area and the Conundrum Trail. The trailhead starts at 9000 ft and the climb ascends nearly 3000 ft over 9 plus miles. As you near the trail’s end, there are several hot spring pools that offer a warm, refreshing dip as a way to celebrate your adventure. The view from the pools is magnificent, as you are surrounded by snow-capped peaks in every direction. Many hikers choose to spend the night near the pools, and are rewarded with breathtaking night skies with more stars than you previously thought imaginable. Whether you choose to make it a day hike or a spend the night adventure, the Conundrum Hot Springs Trail is a rare and precious jewel for the experienced or determined hiker.
1. Glacier Gorge, Long’s Peak
The Glacier Gorge Trail is simply spectacular. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail is a 9.6 mile moderate to strenuous hike that leads through gorgeous scenery past cascading waterfalls, rivers, lakes and pools, all surrounded by unparalleled vantages of Rocky Mountain peaks. The peaks are snowcapped year round and this trail gives you the sense that you’re nestled right up in among them. If part of your interest in hiking is to enjoy nature’s wonders, you definitely should hike the Glacier Gorge Trail. This trail is only open from June to October and is often quite crowded during peak season, but you will not find a more picturesque trail anywhere!
Whether you live in Colorado or are planning to visit, the state offers an abundance of hiking trails that are appropriate for every skill and interest level. These five trails are wonderful places to start your Colorado hiking adventures, and will likely lead you to a life-long passion for the pleasures of hiking and the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors. Now that you have some good ideas about where to get started, get out there and enjoy the hike!