All across the country, there’s a heap of incredible national parks to hike in the USA. This is no more true that within the state of Colorado. After all, there are so many best hikes in Colorado that you’ll be spoilt for choice. The whole state is awash with incredible mountain ranges, ridges and a heap of trails that crisscross the state.
Now, obviously, Colorado isn’t one of the only places to go hiking in the USA. There are some firm favourite places to go, especially around New York, Washington, California and in gorgeous places like Yellowstone, too.
That being said, Colorado is equally stunning and an incredible state to explore, especially when hiking. Now, I’ve tried to include a few different hikes for all abilities and fitness levels. Plus, a few that are a little less intense, too. This way, you can find one of the best hikes in Colorado that’s right for you.
Oh yeah, and with any hike, always listen to local and expert advice. If you’re not sure, go with a guide and check in with park stewards, too. After all, no one likes a careless hiker!
Also, make sure to check out the Colorado Trail Explorer that can help you navigate your route, too.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the best hikes in Colorado to experience. Have the best time.
1.) The Blue Lakes Trail
An absolutely stunning hike located just outside of Ridgway, this 8.5-mile trek is fairly strenuous, particularly towards the end, but it’s totally worth it for the views. It’s easily one of the best hikes in Colorado for the views.
Here, you’ll trail through gorgeous alpine meadows which are even more spectacular when the wildflowers are in bloom before reaching the glacial basin that contains the three blue lakes.
Oh yeah, and while all of these spots are magnificent, the uppermost lake has some epic views too. Though, as I said, this is for the more experienced hiker and you shouldn’t attempt this if you’re just fancying a quick stroll.
2.) Garden of the Gods (Perkins Central Garden Loop)
Okay, so the Garden of the Gods trails is probably one of the best hikes in Colorado to see a totally different type of landscape. After all, that’s the beauty of states like Colorado; they have so much diversity.
The Perkins Central Garden loop will bring you up close and personal with the garden of the gods that’s just totally gorgeous.
The hike itself is actually easy and about 1-1.5 miles long and doesn’t climb high at all.
The whole trail will take you an hour or so to complete and is perfect with families, too. Plus, you can even do this in your regular sneakers; most of the path has been concretised.
3.) Bridal Veil Creek Trail
Bridal Veil Creek Trail is easily one of the best hikes in Colorado. Once here, you get pretty close Bridal Veil Falls, which is easily one of the highest in all of Colorado.
Now, the trail itself is almost 5 miles long and over 2000ft elevation range. This means you should only really follow this route if you’re familiar with hiking and have a certain level of fitness.
IF you’re interested in joining, follow trail number 507 that goes right through the Bridal Veil Basin.
4.) Crystal Mill in Colorado
Around 9-miles in length, the Crystal Mill is relatively long and will take you around 5-hours to fully complete. Now, the beginning of the hike can be pretty tough, so you’ll know right away if this hike is for you. Though, don’t attempt it if you’re not sure. As I keep saying, no one likes a careless hiker.
Now, the trail itself is mainly a 4×4 dirt road, so be prepared for min duststorms as some ATVs pass by.
5.) Emerald Lake Trail
Being about 3-4 miles in length, the Emerald Lake Trail passes the base of Hallett Peaks in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s one of the best hikes in Colorado to explore that has some incredible views.
Best of all, if you don’t feel like a huge elevation hike, the Emerald Lake Trail is great for you. It only climbs around 800 feet so it’s nice and easy for the family.
Now, it can be busy at certain times; though you can easily avoid the crowds by heading here out of the holiday season and weekends.
6.) Mount Bierstadt Trail
Located in Silver Plume, the Mount Bierstadt Trail is around 7-miles long and a relatively popular trail in the area. Now, the whole trail consists of going through the expanses of Mount Evans. Though, always make sure to keep to the trails to avoid damaging the local vegetation. It’s always sad to see people trampling on all the plants and shoots in the area.
Now, personally, I’d be cautious of this in heavy snow. It can be really tough and not really for non-experienced hikers in this climate. That being said, it’s still one of the best hikes in Colorado to experience whilst in the area.
Oh yeah, and if you do venture in the snowy conditions, make sure you have full microspikes and plenty of thermal layers to add/remove. If you’re not sure, don’t head on this hike alone (get a guide).
7.) Butler Gulch
A moderately difficult five-mile trek in the Arapaho National Forest, Butler Gulch is one of the best hikes in Colorado in the summertime.
This is especially true with all the wildflowers blanketing the area. In fact, there are over one hundred different species here, including Indian Paintbrush and the state flower itself, Rocky Mountain Columbine.
For those interested in a little history of life in this area of Colorado, you’ll also come across two abandoned mines. Now, while it is not safe to explore too deeply within, it makes a fascinating and intriguing view from the outside (and kinda eerie).
8.) Caribou Lake
Often considered one of the best hikes in Colorado, you will crest the top of Arapaho Pass before reaching Caribou Lake itself.
Here, you can spend some time enjoying the scenery and having a picnic in the fresh mountain air before returning on the same trail, though the true way to experience the lake is to obtain a permit and set up camp for a night or two.
Although, be prepared for the wind! Gosh, it’s strong here!
9.) Crater Lake
A magnificent day hike located just outside of Aspen, this is a relatively easy out and back trail that begins at Maroon Lake, which is very beautiful but also usually very pretty crowded (Well, at peak times).
On this 4-mile hike, you’ll pass through the valley, surrounded by gorgeous Aspen groves and the breathtaking Maroon Bells in the distance, too.
Once you reach Crater Lake itself, you will want to spend some time taking in the pristine beauty of the area. After all, that’s the joy of hiking!
Though, be very careful to stay on the trail here, as you do not want to cause damage to the fragile vegetation.
10.) The Four Pass Loop
Located in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen, this 26-mile-long strenuous trek leads you over four separate mountain passes in the span of four days. As you can imagine, this isn’t a hike for anyone but the most advanced hiker.
On your first day, you will walk past the pristinely beautiful Crater Lake, which is a popular spot for camping, though there is confirmed bear activity in the area. Always stay alert for this and follow local safety advice.
From here, you will cross Frigid Pass before descending into a gorgeous alpine meadow complete with springs and even the occasional waterfall. Oh, and Snowmass Lake is another popular attraction along this path, widely known for its clear blue water set against a dense forest background.
It really is one of the best hikes in Colorado, but only if you’re an experienced hiker or going out with an expert group.
11.) Hanging Lake
If you are enjoying the infamous hot springs near Glenwood Springs, be sure to take a day to conquer this short but pretty brutal hike. That being said, it’s one of the best hikes in Colorado to see this beautiful region.
Most people presume that visiting Hanging Lake must be easy, as the trail is only a 2.5-miles roundtrip. Be advised, however, that you will have a very steep trek over rocky terrain, so do not take it lightly and neglect to bring proper provisions and allow yourself time to stop for rest.
Once you reach Hanging Lake, you are rewarded for your troubles with a veritable paradise! Here, the beautiful lake is framed by a backdrop of waterfalls, providing an absolutely breathtaking spot to stop and relax for a while before returning back.
Just make sure to avoid this hike in the winter season if you’re not familiar with snowy hikes. And, of course, have all the correct winter equipment.
12.) The Lake Agnes Trail
This moderately paced, the two-mile hike is located just outside the town of Walden.
Fairly popular amongst tourists and locals alike, it is a favoured fishing spot for those who are in the know.
One of the most rewarding hikes in terms of “bang for your buck,” ascending the switchbacks can be challenging, yet the unworldly beauty of the towering Nokhu Craigs provide motivation to keep on going until you reach Lake Agnes itself. This is a serenely idyllic alpine lake in all of its true glory.
You can trail along the edge, or simply stake out a rock and enjoy the fresh mountain air and spectacular setting while imbibing in a picnic lunch. It’s totally stunning and one of the best hikes in Colorado for sure.
13.) Longs Peak
At just over 14,200 feet tall, Long’s Peak is the 13th tallest mountain in all of Colorado!
The extremely strenuous trail (and only for the most advanced hiker) as it’s around a fifteen miles roundtrip. For this one, it is vital that you do not underestimate this mountain if you are planning to take it on! It’s intense.
Also, It involves a great deal of uphill climbing, as well as treacherous terrain once you reach the keyhole, too. From here, you must scramble over rocks and be very careful to watch your footing, as people have lost their lives trying to traverse this path.
Those who follow precautions and arrive safely at the summit are rewarded with absolutely epic views at the top. Here, you will literally feel as though you are at the top of the world!
Keep in mind that less than half of the people who attempt this hike make it to the summit on their first try, so do not be afraid to turn around in the event of inclement weather or impending exhaustion; it could save your life! Again, don’t try this hike unless you’re of advanced fitness and always follow expert advice (or guides) on this trial.
14.) Lost Man’s Loop
While this nearly 9-mile, hard, hike near Aspen is frequently referred to as a loop, keep in mind that the point where you begin and the point where you end is almost four miles apart. This all means it’s best to pre-arrange transportation before undertaking this glorious trek.
While the trail makes for a relatively long day hike, the terrain is relatively flat, so this is a good option for anyone who wants to experience a wilderness hike but isn’t ready to tackle some of the more advanced options.
Here, you find yourself on the edge of the Continental Divide near the iconic Independence Pass.
Throughout your journey, you will want to make time to stop at Lost Man’s Lake, which affords a jaw-dropping view of the Rocky Mountains. It’s easily one of the best hikes in Colorado for views.
15.) Mount Elbert
Don’t be scared of the fact that Mount Elbert is the highest summit in all of Colorado. This all means that the hike is very hard and only for the most advanced hikers to scale.
Though, in terms of bang for your buck, you will not find a better big mountain climb that has ethereally beautiful views for a relatively little amount of effort.
This is not to say that this 9-mile roundtrip located near Leadville is easy, either. After all, there are indeed some steep spots, and in inclement weather, it can be treacherously icy. However, the elevation gain is gradual and there are no vast rocks climbs.
Once you reach the summit, you will feel as though you are at the top of the world! Be sure to spend an hour or so taking in the beauty of the Sawatch Range before headed back down. It’s one of the best hikes in Colorado winter that’s pretty challenging.
Oh, and only head here in the snowy months if you’re totally experienced and have snow equipment with a guide.
16.) Mount Ida
A spectacular trail located Rocky Mountain National Park, this hike is just over nine miles long roundtrip.
Moderately paced, there are some steep inclines to be dealt with, but for the most part, the incline is quite reasonable. Towards the end, you will have to traipse over some rocks, so be sure to follow the upward trail marked by cairns. On the last mile, or so, the trail somewhat disappears but cross boulder fields for the last part of the hike.
Once at the summit, the views of the valley below are unlike anything you have ever seen before, particularly if you come in the springtime when the wildflowers are blooming. The marmots up at the top of the summit have been known to steal supplies, so keep your food and other provisions close at hand.
The hike is tough but doable if you’re committed and have a good level of fitness. Oh, and make sure to join this trail in the morning so you can still hike down in the afternoon light back to your viechle.
17.) Sniktau Mountain Trail
The Sniktau Mountain Trail is a short but very steep hike located outside of Denver that affords absolutely breathtaking views.
At only four miles long roundtrip, you definitely get your workout here, particularly in the beginning stretch!
You encounter one false summit along the way as well, however, the views of the Rocky Mountains and Loveland Pass get more and more spectacular as you climb your way to the actual top.
It’s easily one of the best hikes in Colorado that’s a relatively hard hike due to its elevation climb.