Best Hikes in Colorado

Hike is a fun word not just for adventurers, but anybody who has a thirst to connect themselves with nature. This is why choosing the right hiking place is necessary before starting your trip to Colorado. But you can’t just find out a random hiking place from the internet and go there; you need the right guide and advice to get into that place. The mind of the viewer is what makes a hike perfect, but this series of adventures is a worthy compilation that highlights Colorado’s finest natural settings: soaring mountains, crystal-clear mountain lakes, jagged rock walls, vast views, and strong potential for wildlife sighting. Below we are listing down the best hikes of the Colorado that can fulfill your hiking adventure. 

1. BISON PEAK:

Bison Peak is a series of impressive rock towers at 12,431 feet, created from just a flower-festooned alpine meadow. Starting near the Tarryall Reservoir in the Tarryall Mountains, the class 1 hiking trail is 11 miles out and back. The steady hike up to the tree line seems to go hard, but in the summer it can get hot and dry, so carry extra water! The tree line of Cresting brings new views of the wobbly, blocky, stone buildings, some of which are over 150′ high and apparently imported from the desert of Moab. Fortunately, with a few simple hills or rock scrambles to the top, the summit is a half-mile walk off the main trail over grassy meadows. Once a bit of a mystery, this unusual peak has gained prominence in recent years, but is nonetheless scarcely ever crowded.

  • How to go: 2 hours form Denver in the Lost Canyon Wilderness Mountains.
  • Equipment needed: Trekking poles are recommend (as those inclines are intense)
  • Difficulty rating: Long but easy

2. MOUNT BIERSTADT: (Moderate)

A typical mistake many inexperienced Colorado hikers commit is to attempt Longs Peak while piling the chances of a decent summit in their favor just before they have the fitness or experience. This is where it comes into play at Mount Bierstadt. A welcoming 6 mile round trip along a well-maintained trail is the famous 14,060′ peak off Guanella Pass near Georgetown. For anyone looking to hike all of the 58 14,000 ‘Colorado summits, it is a perfect beginner peak (the eponymous 14ers). On Sawtooth Mountain, a 1-mile stretch of Class 3 rock that links the top of Bierstadt to the shoulder of 13,842 ‘Mount Spaulding and finally 14,264’ Mount Evans, more seasoned hikers will test their mettle. The traditional descent back to Guanella Pass includes bushwhacking across moose-infested swampland, where a natural garden labyrinth is formed by 7-foot high willows.

  • How to go: From I-70, take the exit to Georgetown. Follow the Guanella Pass signs across the city. Up the side of the mountain, the pass can zigzag. Travel before you hit the Mount Bierstadt trailhead on the left.
  • Equipment needed: Insulated footwear, Gaitors, Snowshoes, Crampons
  • Difficulty rating: Moderate

3. PYRAMID PEAK:

This is the most challenging day hiking category on this list, even much more than Longs Peak, is Pyramid Peak (14,018 ‘) near Aspen. Although most hikers without any specialized equipment can tackle Class 3 (or Class 4, in some opinions), it is not unheard of to carry a rope and harnesses along. However, with strong route finding, the regular route can remain in a challenging yet solid Class 3. Most hikers should arrive in the early morning blackness (3 am is a good start time), chugging up a steep headwall to the end of a thrilling scramble (roughly a mile). Mountain goats are frequent for spectators, as well the rock, especially in comparison to the neighboring Maroon Bells, is strong for Elk Range terrain. The views from the flat summit look out over the Maroon Bells and many other spectacular Elk Range Peaks mentioned above. The round trip is only 8.2 miles, but this one should be 8-10 hours for even heavy hikers.

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  • How to go: Drive toward Lake Crescent on US 101 west of Port Angeles, or north and east of Forks. Turn northeast into Camp David Jr. at the very western end of Lake Crescent. Highway (just west of milepost 221). Continue straight on North Shore Road for 3.1 miles, ignoring the signs.
  • Equipment needed: Helmet is mandatory needed
  • Difficulty rating: Hard

4. MICA BASIN:

Starting from the Slavonia Trailhead near Steamboat Springs, a nearly 3.8 mile walk (7.6 mile round trip) to Mica Lake is a perfect introduction to the Park Range. Thanks to its northern location and comparatively low elevation, the Zirkel Wilderness is one of the lushest mountain regions in Colorado. The same storms that keep the rivers running supply the famous winter snow of the ski area. The region is lush with flowers, flora, and vibrant grasses and willows as a consequence. Mica Lake is a greenish, small, blue pool that’s a canine favorite. Like Little Agnes Peak, Big Agnes Peak, A second Little Agnes Peak and a scenic point between them, not officially named but locally known as “Middle Agnes Peak,” nearby summits can be hiked or scrambled up. Thanks to the abundance of vibrant plants, Mica Basin is one of the finest autumn day hikes.

  • How to go: Drive north to Seedhouse Road (Forest Road 400; only County Road 64) for about 18 miles and turn right. Continue for around 10 miles to the finish, parking at the Slavonia trailhead.
  • Equipment needed: Do bring camp chair if you want to stay at night.
  • Difficulty rating: Easy to Moderate

5. MOUNT ELBERT:

The highest point in Colorado (and the highest in the entire Rocky Mountain Chain) stands at 14,433, but thankfully it’s a pleasant hike through the Mount Elbert Trail for its regular path. A good trail from woodland to treeline parallels this in 9 mile out-and-back, where hikers get acquainted with the thin air and the potential heartbreak of a pair of false summits. Fear not as the real summit is not far past the second false summit and the broad, flat apex has a series of wide shelters. While the views of the city of Leadville and the Sawatch Range are incredibly stunning, there is a very little visibility along the way. Worth noting: 14,420 ‘Mount Giant, Colorado’s second highest mountain, is just across the street from Mount Elbert Trailhead. A good two-pack punch for an adventurous weekend is made by the pair.

  • How to go: It’s the regular route, beginning from the North Mt. Elbert Trailhead just outside of Leadville, through the Northeast Ridge. Turn west into Colorado 300 to meet the trailhead from U.S. 24, and cross the railway tracks. Travel approximately 0.7 miles and turn left toward Halfmoon Creek on Lake County Road 11.
  • Equipment needed: Standard stuffs with adequate food and water
  • Difficulty rating: Moderate

6. THE DEVIL’S CAUSEWAY:

The Devil Causeway Colorado
(Image Source: https://www.outtherecolorado.com/category/6-things/the-devil-s-causeway-6-things-to-know-before-you-hike/article_5ff57780-d902-50f0-bba7-ec5d234e21d6.html)

If the Spinner of The all Lies has a geological feature with his label attached, you know it is indeed going to be fascinating. In the Flattop Wilderness, a remote patch of mountains that is accessible from the town of Yampa between I-70 and Steamboat Springs, The Devil’s Causeway lies. A pleasant, 6 mile round trip beginning from the East Fork Trail is the hike itself. A non-technical but heady 50-foot strip of rock that narrows to 3 feet wide and has drops of 60-80 feet from each side is the namesake feature. This is either a neat stroll around a sturdy spine of rock or a belly-crawling, sphincter-clenching ordeal, or maybe somewhere in between, depending on the response to exposure. A visit to the Flattops is worth the time even though you opt out of the traverse, since it is one of the lesser-known mountain areas of Colorado, and the rock walls and tabled-off summits are very impressive.

  • How to go: Take U.S. Highway 40 south for about 4 miles from Steamboat Springs, On Colorado Highway 131, turn left. Travel 26 miles through Phippsburg and Oak Creek. Switch right onto Main Street in Yampa. Travel for half a mile before the end of paved Main Street. Switch into Routt County Road 7 on the right. Finally, the asphalt road switches to gravel and becomes Forest Service Road 900.
  • Equipment needed: Whatever you take, you must take first aid kit here.
  • Difficulty rating: Moderate to difficult

7. ICE LAKES BASIN:

Silverton is known for its stunning mountain landscapes, and South Mineral Campground’s Ice Lakes Basin provides a snapshot of what makes the San Juan range so unique in southwestern Colorado. A steep but steady path through the forest to a series of shimmering, blue alpine lakes, including Island Lake, follows this 7-mile round trip. In the lush valleys, the Creeks cascade and roll over rounded rock walls, painting a combination of green, black, and grey. From the view of the reservoirs, it is impossible to imagine that this cracked and collapsing mountain is just a Class 2 scramble! The majestic “sinking ship” profiles of 13,780 ‘Golden Horn dominates the skyline. The nearest Pilot Knob, 13,738 ‘, is a scarcely climbed broken comb of rock (and usually only by mountaineers knocking off the 200 highest mountains of Colorado; the 131st highest is the Pilot Knob). There are also smatterings of remnants of mines and cabins on the upper lakes, a testimony to the mining past of the region.

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  • How to go: Follow Highway 550 south from Ouray to the South Mineral Campground for about 20 miles to the turn off. On the north side of the road across from the South Mineral Campground, make a sharp right on County Road 7 and follow the gravel road for 4.4 miles to the trailhead parking spot.
  • Equipment needed: Tools for navigation such as compass and other stuffs.
  • Difficulty rating: Moderate

8. Emerald Lake:

Rocky Mountain National Park is a well-loved hiking destination for residents and tourists alike, with more than 300 miles of trails and some of the best-known scenery in the state. Look no further than the trek to Emerald Lake if you are looking for a first-time hike or are enjoying the park for a single day. Before hiking to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake, two of the gems of Rocky Mountain National Park, this stunning out-and-back begin at Bear Lake. You’ll need a park pass and be sure to arrive early, especially in the summer months, as this is a common trailhead. The Bear Lake Trail, which departs from the same trailhead and circles around Bear Lake, is a family-friendly choice if you are looking for a shorter or simpler outing.

  • How to go: You can take a ride in the Trans-Canada Highway for two hours from Calgary to get to Emerald Lake, where several commercial flights land every day. You can pass Banff National Park on the way, where other glacial lakes including the Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake or Lake Louise can be seen.
  • Equipment needed: You need to leave your dog at home.
  • Difficulty rating: Easy/Intermediate 

9. JAMES PEAK

We come to the tasteful James Peak at last. This summit of 13,301 is a good walk-up, like an out-and-back, which is 8 miles round trip. The mountain’s attraction is not just its proximity to the metro area of Denver/Boulder; its regular path also climbs one of the few remaining glaciers in Colorado, the St. Marys Glacier. As it lacks deep crevasses, the glacier (which has been downgraded as a “semi-permanent snowfield”) is safe for foot travel. A small ski area once operated on the glacier from 1930-1986 all year round, and the remnants of the ski lift can be seen on the way to the trailhead parking lot. 

How to go: At the Ute Trail junctions, close to the treeline, take the wagon path to the left. The Ute Trail leads to Little Echo Lake on the right (north) and to the Continental Divide on the shoulder of James Mountain.

Equipment needed: If you have a Go pro, this is the best place to use it

  • Difficulty rating: Moderate

Bottom Line:

Colorado is a state full of incredible national park. We tried to cover the best places we felt for your hiking experience no matter in what experience level you are in.

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