If you were to ask 100 people that have moved to the state of Colorado in the past five years why they chose to make this state their new home, I would be willing to bet that “outdoor recreation opportunities” would be one of the top three reasons provided. The other two answers might revolve around the amazing variety of breweries located within the state or the easy (and legal) access to that controversial green plant, but my answer is always the amazing outdoor adventures that are now right outside my back door…literally! I live at the foot of the foothills and absolutely love it—and the hiking escapades I’ve had so far are what I want to share with you. I’ve also included some links to trails that are on my list but I haven’t had the opportunity to hike just yet.
Trails Close to Denver
Where I’ve Been: Turkey Trot, Rooney Trail, Lookout Mountain and Clear Creek
As mentioned, my boyfriend and I live in one of the best locations in the Denver area (in my opinion, at least). We are only a twenty-minute drive from downtown, but right across C-470 from the foothills of the mountains. What does that mean for me? I have easy access to all kinds of epic hiking trails! As some of the best trails to explore are in Morrison, Golden and Evergreen, I will start there and work my way out.
Morrison offers quite a few trails around the well-known Red Rocks Park and Ampitheater, that range in distance and difficulty level. We have done the Turkey Trot Trail, which was about a 3-mile loop and, of course, visited the Red Rocks ampitheater, which is a hike in itself.
Another good location for a variety of trails is Green Mountain. We have hiked the Rooney Trail, one of many trails to choose from depending on the distance or level of difficulty you desire. If you’re as lucky as we were, you might have the chance to be just feet away from Colorado wildlife.
Just north of Morrison lies Golden. This area also has a multitude of trails, including a gorgeous mountain hike with some history at the top. You can visit the grave of Buffalo Bill atop Lookout Mountain by car, or by hiking up the mountain. The sights you can see from the trail make it worth choosing to hike over driving. If you’re looking for a beautiful view without having to climb a mountain, check out Clear Creek Trail. Take a stroll along the creek, which runs from the mountains through the stunning town of Golden, then explore all the restaurants and little shops that make up the historic downtown.
Trails Near Idaho Springs
Where I’ve Been: Chief Mountain and St. Mary’s Glacier
Once you’re done exploring near the Denver city limits, venture about an hour west to Idaho Springs. It’s an old mining town that also has a fun, little downtown area that is full of character, good food and breweries for the beer connoisseurs out there. But make sure you take time to appreciate the breathtaking views that two of my favorite trails have to offer.
The trail headed for Chief Mountain was a bit difficult to find at first, but totally worth the effort. The trail is roughly a 1.5-mile winding uphill climb, but when you reach the top, I guarantee it will blow your mind. Be sure to climb up the rocks if you are capable and touch the bronze medallion. You will not be sorry when you see the 360-degree view.
St. Mary’s Glacier is also a good one to check out when in the Idaho Springs area, especially if you’re in search of a trail for all skill levels. It is a popular place, so they do charge for parking, but once again, it’s worth it. If you are looking for a short but epic hike, the easy climb up leads you to the water’s edge of a reservoir. But if you are wanting more of a climb then you can keep moving up the mountain for a bird’s eye view. Either way, you are in for a spectacular sight.
Trails Near Fort Collins
Where I’ve Been: Devil’s Backbone
We have started to venture straight north of Denver towards the Loveland and Fort Collins area and recently were able to go on a hike at Devil’s Backbone. Once you arrive at the trail, you will instantly understand where it gets its name. This is another hike that can be short and sweet or an afternoon adventure, your choice!
Our One Grand Junction Experience… So Far
Where I’ve Been: Devil’s Kitchen (Colorado National Monument)
Although we have a lot more hikes to take in the Denver area, we took the opportunity over the holidays to make the four-hour drive straight west to Grand Junction. When I asked around for awesome hiking trails in that area, I received the same answer over and over: “You have to check out the National Monument.” Check it out we did, and we were not disappointed!
There are views for miles and so many trails to choose from. We spent an entire day driving through the park, stopping at as many of the scenic views as we could, and hiking up to Devil’s Kitchen. If you decide on this trail and hike up in between the mountains like we did, I would advise caution. There are a few spots that could be quite dangerous if the proper safety measures are not taken. With that being said though, the views are gorgeous. Whether you take the more extreme route, just walk through the canyons or even if you stay in your car and make stops as you drive through the park, there will be plenty of stunning views for you to choose from.
To Sum Things Up…
There really isn’t a bad place to go if you want a gorgeous view, some high-quality exercise and, of course, a fun, memorable adventure. So get out there, be safe and explore the trails of Colorado!