Colorado Hiking Trails that will keep you excited about hiking! 

If you think doing one hike in Colorado was your favorite then guess again. I do that all the time. I will hike a trail and think “wow” this is spectacular. Not long later I hike a different trail and think “wow” this one is spectacular. In conclusion, they are all unique and all exceptional.

I put together 23 of the best hikes we did in 2021. Each one was a different adventure and I am excited to share them with you.

 

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).

 

CRYSTAL LAKE TRAIL

Lake City, CO

Crystal Lake Trail sits just beneath the eastern side of Crystal Peak (12,933f ft) and presents a stunning ending to a spectacular hike. Minutes from Lake City, CO you find yourself amid intense forests of aspens and meadows with sweeping views of Lake City far below. Then onto dense pines along ridges with stunning views of the highest peaks and rewarded with a sweet alpine lake. > READ MORE

8.2 miles out & back

Rated: Moderate/strenuous

No restrooms

Elevation gain: 2,960 ft

Highest elevation: 11,760 ft

Uncompahgre National Forest

This hike is an aspen, & wildflower extravaganza. Bring a Wildflower Field Guide with you!

 

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FOREST LAKES TRAIL

Rollinsville, CO

Forest Lake Trail takes you to 2 lovely alpine lakes, one that is tranquil and one that rests among the rugged Continental Divide peaks. Hiking is a gentle wide path in the first mile than an adventure as you hike higher up. Wooden bridges, meadows, dense forests take you up to a mountain paradise hidden at the tree line.

> READ MORE to find if this hike is meant for you! It’s a gem.

8.1 mile out & back

Rated: Hard

Lower & Upper Lakes

Portable Toilets

Elevation Gain: 1,794

James Peak Wilderness

Roosevelt National Forest

 

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SPRUCE CREEK TRAIL

Breckenridge, CO

Spruce Creek Trail loop is beautiful in each season. Starting off meandering through a forest of pines with the added option of hiking to Mohawk Lakes above treeline it’s truly Colorado at its best. Located in stunning Blue River, CO near Breckenridge, CO you can’t go wrong> READ MORE

4.3-mile loop

Rated: moderate

Open to leashed dogs

No restrooms

White River National Forest

Dillon Ranger District 

Check out our summer hike to Mohawk Lakes via the Spruce Creek Trail. A hike not to miss! One of the most popular trails in Breckenridge, CO

 

Appropriate Winter Gear is Essential for safety and warmth > CLICK HERE for a look at what I use and wear and why!

 

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ISABELLE GLACIER TRAIL

Ward, CO

Isabelle Glacier Trail is like hiking into a Colorado postcard. Unmatched in its scenic beauty from beginning to end. It’s a hike that screams “this is Colorado”. You can hike to gorgeous Isabelle lake for an easier yet beautiful day or be adventurous and hike on to Isabelle Glacier. > READ MORE

Isabelle Lake

4.2 miles out & back

Rated: moderate

Isabelle Glacier

8.4 miles out & back

Rated: strenuous

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Restrooms

No bikes, no horses

Dogs ok

NOTE: In Late June to Mid Oct this is a fee area and reservations are required as of late Sept. 2021. Located in the Brainard Recreation Area > CLICK HERE for more information. > CLICK HERE for reservations.

 

What to do if you encounter wildlife >CLICK HERE

 

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MILL CASTLE TRAIL

Gunnison, CO

Mill Castle Trail is so unique and different with its canyon walls, pinnacles, and massive aspens forests that photos simply can’t capture it. A hidden gem with few hikers and a dreamy area for those wanting solitude in the wild.. > READ MORE

Mill Castle Trail

8 miles out and back

Rated: moderate

Mill Castle to Storm Pass

15.5 miles out and back

Rated: strenuous

Gunnison National Forest

West Elk Wilderness

I highly recommend carrying Bear Spray on all backcountry trails, even in winter. 

 

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BRIDAL VEIL BASIN TRAIL

Telluride, CO

Bridal Veil Basin to Blue Lake will leave you stunned with its scenic beauty. The popular 365′ Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado is the first highlight of many more to come as you hike deeper into the Bridal Veil Basin.

Hiking in the San Juan Mountains never disappoints! Located at the edge of town in Telluride, CO, it is one not to miss! > READ MORE

Rated: moderate/strenuous

Start Elevation: 10,400′ End 12,220″

8.7 miles out & back

Portable Potties

Uncompahgre National Forest

 

Be Prepared! The right gear makes all the difference for a safe and happy hike > CLICK HERE 

 

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HOPE PASS

Twin Lakes, CO

Hope Pass via Willis Gulch Trail is a challenging climb that will test your strength & breathing! An incredible trail that takes you far above treeline to views beyond your expectations. One of Colorado’s exceptional hikes and one of my all-time favorites!  > READ MORE

10 miles out & back

Rated: strenuous

3,254′ elevation gain

Highest elevation: 12,508′

No restroom

Leashed dogs ok

Nearest Town: Twin Lakes/Leadville, CO

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

San Isabel National Forest

Leadville Ranger District

 

 

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LINKINS LAKE TRAIL

Independence Pass, CO

Linkins Lake Trail is short, steep, and gorgeous. For such a small adventure it is packed with everything Colorado. Take a break from the crowds near Aspen, CO, and take in this beauty that starts above the treeline to an Alpine Lake.

More trails leading in several directions from Linkins Lake make this an adventure. You will love it! > READ MORE

Trail #1979

1.6 mile out & back

Rated: moderate

Lake elevation: 12,008′

Popular for fishing

Aspen Ranger District

Independence Pass Travel Info

 

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THE CRAGS TRAIL

Divide, CO

Get ready for the unexpected. You won’t be disappointed, instead, you’ll be giddy with awe. Not your normal trek through the Colorado forests when reaching the top. The views and the rock formations will leave you stunned. > READ MORE

4.9 miles out & back

Rated: easy/moderate

Pikes Peak Ranger District:

Open year round

Gate Closed in Winter to trailhead but can snowshoe in

 

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BUTLER GULCH TRAIL

Empire, CO

Butler Gulch Trail is an incredibly beautiful hike amid a sprinkling of wildflowers, old mining remnants, a waterfall, and snow-capped peaks. Take the loop hike and find unimaginable views that take your breath away while Marmots and Pikas check you out. One of Colorados’ best day hikes, easily accessible from Denver. > READ MORE

5.5 miles out & back

Rated: moderate/strenuous

Arapaho National Forest

Dogs ok on leash

No restrooms

Elevation Start 10,500′ – end 12,000+’


 

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HARVARD LAKES

Buena Vista, CO

Harvard Lakes Trail via the Colorado Trail is a casual hike through the forests with intermediate views of the sensational Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas Valley below. Looking for a quiet trail to a couple of sweet lakes situated below Mt. Columbia 14er this is it. > READ MORE

6 mile out & back

Rated: moderate

No restrooms

Start Elevation: 9120 ft.

Ending Elevation: approx: 10,340 ft.

Open to dogs and horses

San Isabel National Forest

 

 

 

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CATARACT GULCH TRAIL

Lake City, CO

Cataract Gulch Trail is packed with cascading waterfalls, dense forests, and abundant wildflowers. Located in the backcountry, yet accessible by car it’s the perfect hike for day hiking enthusiasts. Reaching Cataract Lake located on the Continental Divide high above the treeline is the perfect ending.  > READ MORE

I highly recommend carrying Bear Spray on this trail & leaving your car empty of food. 

Cataract Gulch – 4.5 miles out & back

Cataract Lake – 8.6 miles out & back

Moderate/strenous

Restroom

Handies Peak Wilderness

 

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SEVEN BRIDGES TRAIL

Manitou Springs, CO

Seven Bridges Trail is a hike for anyone who loves to enjoy the woods. Waterfalls, bridges, and beautiful forests leave you transfixed and loving every minute as you hike this trail. It’s both enjoyable and gorgeous. Perfect for families, visitors, and newbies to Colorado. > READ MORE

Busy area in summer. Large parking lot but fills up quickly.

3.5 miles out and back

Rated: easy/slightly moderate

Dogs on leash ok

Portable Potties

North Cheyenne Canyon Park

Parking: Lot 18

 

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CRYSTAL LAKE TRAIL

Breckenridge, CO

Crystal Lakes Trail located near Breckenridge, CO is a haven of alpine scenery. Views of the Ten Mile Range alongside Lower Crystal Lake nestled below the mountain ridges are gorgeous. One beautiful hike through deep forests, wildflower-lined meadows, and Crystal Creek running through it all.. > READ MORE

4.6 miles out & back/Lower Lake

8.4 miles out & back/Upper Lake

Rated: Moderate/Hard

Elevation Gain: 1,604′ 1st Lake

Elevaton Gain: 2,568′ 2nd Lake

No restrooms

White River National Forest

 

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MOUNTAIN BOY RIDGE

Independence Pass, CO

Mountian Boy Ridge Trail at the Summit of Independence Pass is a must-do if prepared. Absolutely stunning as you hike past the Summit along Mountain Boy Ridge across the Continental Divide and see views like no other. Bring your boots, hiking essentials, and wander far beyond the lookout. You won’t be disappointed! > READ MORE

6 miles out & back

Rated: difficult

Nearest towns; Aspen, Leadville

Highest elevation: Near 13,000′

Independence Pass Travel Info

Restrooms at Summit

If weather conditions are favorable and you’ve acclimated to high altitude take a wander and see Colorado at its highest! I stress being acclimated to the altitude because it is real and can make you sick. Read here for more info  >High Altitude Warning Signs

Know the weather forecast – before hiking above treeline – a good source is mountainweather.com

 

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HUNTER CREEK TRAIL

Aspen, CO

Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, CO is a hiking, running, and mountain biking haven. A rocky dirt trail that goes alongside beautiful Hunter Creek to Hunter Valley where you find a mixture of single-path trails.

The waterfalls, bridges, and aspen trees along with numerous old buildings were enchanting.  > READ MORE

North Hunter Creek – 8.9 miles

Rated: moderate

Lower Hunter Creek Trail 1.7 miles

Rated: easy

Dog Friendly

For a map >CLICK HERE

 

 

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WHEELER LAKE TRAIL

Hoosier Pass, CO

Wheeler Lake Trail is a hidden gem beyond Montgomery Reservoir that few know about. Not far from Alma, CO, you’ll find Montgomery Reservoir and a great day hike. A gorgeous waterfall to begin or end your day and a trail with views of North Star Mtn, 13,406, Wheeler Mtn. 13,629 ft, and Clinton Peak, 13,813 ft. until reaching beautiful Wheeler Lake at 12 + ft.  > READ MORE

Rated easy/moderate

6.5 miles out & back

No restrooms

Nearest Town: Alma, CO

Pike National Forest

South Park Ranger District

 

 

 

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EMERALD LAKE TRAIL

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Emerald Lake located in Rocky Mountain National Park is a gorgeous hike from start to finish. There is nothing lacking on this trail, it screams Colorado Rockies in spades. One of the most popular hikes in the Park. It took my breath away,

An unforgettable hike. It’s crowded but worth it. > READ MORE

3.5 miles out & back

Rated: easy/moderate

Lake elevation: 10,110 ft

Rocky Mountain National Park

For a trail map, >CLICK HERE.

For shuttle Info, >CLICK HERE

 

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LOST LAKE TRAIL

Nederland, CO

Lost Lake Trail is beautiful and a must-do in springtime in the Colorado Rockies. Has fewer crowds and is a great time to get into the wild. Easy access from Boulder and Denver makes this a favorite front-range hike. > READ MORE

4 mile out & back

Rated: moderate

No restrooms

No horses, bikes

Dogs ok on leash

Roosevelt National Forest

Shuttlein Summer

Family friendly

Boulder Ranger District; 303-541-2500

 

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DARK CANYON TRAIL

Kebler Pass, CO

Dark Canyon, Irwin, and Dyke Trail Loop is located on Kebler Pass which is known for its massive aspen trees in the fall. Not to leave out its sensational wildflowers in the summer months. Beautiful hike with endless views, incredible forests, beaver dams, and rugged mountains. > READ MORE

5.9 Mile Loop

Rated: moderate

Restroom

Open to dogs, horses

Gunnison National Forest

West Elk Wilderness

Ragged Wilderness

 

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CUB LAKE TRAIL

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Cub Lake Trail is located in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Moraine Park area. The trail is packed with lush green meadows, beaver ponds, forest-lined trails, rocky canyon walls, elks herds, and more.

A wildlife wonder and great for a family hike  > READ MORE

5.1 miles out & back

Rated: an easy moderate

Rocky Mountain National Park

For a trail map, >CLICK HERE.

For shuttle Info, >CLICK HERE


 

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CRAGS CREST TRAIL

Grans Mesa, CO

Crags Crest Trail on the Grand Mesa designated a National Recreation Trail near Grand Junction, CO is like no other hike you will find in Colorado. Rocky paths, serene forests, and 360º views of western Colorado’s valleys, lakes, and high peaks are incredible. One hike you won’t forget! 

Adventurous hike, you will love it. I found it more moderate than hard, just tricky in spots, take it slow and enjoy! > READ MORE

Trail #711

6.5 miles

Rated: hard

Restrooms

Nearest Town: Cedaridge, CO

Grand Mesa National Forest

Map of the Grand Mesa 

 

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POLLOCK BENCH TRAIL

Fruita, CO

Pollock Bench Trail in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area near Grand Junction and Fruita, CO is a pleasant surprise as you hike into its wilder areas. Sensational scenic views of Flume Canyon, Devils Canyon, and the beautiful canyon walls of Pollock Canyon. > READ MORE

There is no shade on this trail! Please have plenty of water, electrolytes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to keep safe from dehydration and sunburn, so common on any hike in Colorado’s wilderness. Have you heard of a hiking umbrella? A great way to prevent sun exposure.

6.5-mile loop

Rated: easy/moderate

Restroom

Ample parking

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

WANT MORE HIKING IDEAS?

Colorado Hikes, 23 Awesome Trails!

 

HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE TRAIL!

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).