Family hikes that inspire kids in Colorado’s mountains. Kids can do more than we think. I noticed that children young to preteen were on the trails, which surprised me. Some are on more challenging hikes too. The outdoors is an accessible playground, and kids love it. So taking them hiking should be on your list of exciting adventures! So many trails offer various experiences providing wonder in a child’s life.
The trick is to make it fun, expect a bit of complaining, and let them stop, look, and listen. Make it about them, and don’t think you have to complete the entire hike, but you might be surprised that you do.
Bring lots of snacks and water and dress according to the weather. Finally, consider their fashion needs —A tutu over hiking shorts.
Several trails listed are perfect winter hikes too!
15 PERFECT TRAILS FOR FAMILIES
ST. MARY’S GLACIER TRAIL
St Mary’s Glacier Trail is a must-see hike in Colorado, not far from Denver, and doable for anyone. A short trek to the Glacier, incredible scenery, plus snow year-round, make it fun for adults and kids alike.
HIke to Lake: 1 mile out and back
Open to leashed dogs
Nearest Town: Idaho Springs, CO
LOCATED: In the small town of Alice, Exit 238 from I-70 West. (Fall River Road).
LOVELAND LAKES TRAIL
Want to see one of Colorado’s most beautiful spots without any effort? Here you go, Loveland Lakes Trail is easy peasy and breathtaking. Three lakes to stroll around abundant with wildflowers in the summer months.
0.8 mile out and back
Elevation: Above 11,000 ft.
Not far from the summit of Loveland Pass on the west side, you’ll find a road that leads to a parking area and trailhead.
LIMBER GROVE TRAIL
Limber Grove Trai is an easy trek to ancient trees. Bristlecone Pines and Limber Pines are found only in a few select spots in Colorado. So much to explore, and the views are sensational.
This hike is best in summer and fall, as winter roads to the trailhead are unpredictable and often close without warning.
3 miles out and back
Start Elevation: 10,565 ft. end 10,921 ft.
No restrooms at the trailhead
Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative: has a brochure you can print
Closest Town: Fairplay, CO
Located between Horseshoe Campground and Four Mile Campground
Not recommended for horses
Dog and family-friendly
LOCATED: Travel 1.4 miles south of Fairplay on US Highway 285. Turn right on County Road 18 (Fourmile Rd) and proceed a little more than nine miles to a point approximately 200 feet beyond the access road to Fourmile Campground. Park on the south side of the road.
BEAVER CREEK TRAIL
One of our family secrets is Beaver Creek Trail. So, if your looking for no crowds and somewhere to play outside in the mountains year-round, this is it.
A backcountry gem located just minutes from Fairplay, CO. We’ve been hiking and snowshoeing and have camped in many dispersed camping spots. In the fall, with aspens galore and lush green summers with a meandering creek surrounded by mountain peaks and trails, this is a perfect area to get outside and hike with kids. NOTE: watch for wildlife. Moose and bears are often spotted in this area.
From Hwy 285: turn onto Hwy 9 into the town of Fairplay. Turn right on 4th Street and drive to the end of the road. Turn left, which is Bogue St. Go 2.3 miles until you see the Beaver Creek sign. Turn right, which leads you into a small parking area. You’re here. You can drive in and choose a spot if the gate is open. If closed. (winter) Park here and hike in.
From Breckenridge: Take Hwy 9 (Hoosier Pass) to the town of Fairplay (about 25 mins), turn left on 4th st…
Mayflower Gulch is one of my favorite family hikes every season. Magical in winter and wildflower haven in summer. Explore the impressive remnants of the early 1800s Boston Mine scattered throughout, nestled beneath the 10-Mile Range Peaks, and take in the views. An exceptional winter and summer trail. All-age kids like this one — An excellent beginner winter hike and always lovely in summer.
Hike: to Boston Mine Camp, 1.8 mile, starts at 10,994 ft., ends at 11,980 ft.
Rated: easy to moderate
Open to: hiking, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, dogs, mountain bikes
Note: Some avalanche prone areas on the upper end of the trail
Located in: Arapaho National Forest
LOCATED: The Trailhead is approximately 6.2 miles from Copper Mountain on Hwy 91 (Fremont Pass), heading towards Leadville. It is easy to miss! Watch for it on your left. You will find a good size parking area.
MAD CREEK TRAIL
Mad Creek Trail, located 10 minutes from Steamboat Springs, CO, is a favorite among locals and visitors. Hike to Mad Barn, a historical landmark, and find marmots scurrying about. Picnic by the river and take in the sounds of nature. The best part was the number of marmots near and under Mad Barn. Kids will love it.
5 miles out & back
Rated: slightly moderate
800′ elevation gain the first mile
Historical 1906 Landmark
Open to dogs & horseback
Popular MTB area
LOCATED: Take CO 129 North from I-40, approx. 1.3 miles West of Steamboat Springs, CO.
SAWMILL GULCH TRAIL / FAIRY FOREST
Sawmill Gulch Trail, a family-friendly Breckenridge, CO summer surprise under Snowflake chairlift…The trail has just a slight incline through fairytale-like forests and a creek flowing down the slope. With water to run through, leaves squishy beneath your feet, bridges to cross, and sticks and rocks to find, your kids will feel like they are on a great adventure.
When reaching Sawmill Reservoir, walk around the lake to your right and look for the Fairy Forest Trail sign. (easy to miss) Hopefully, you will find it. It takes you onto a trail of homemade fairy dwellings by locals and tourists.
Approx: 1.5 miles out and back
No fishing along the trail
Fishing allowed at Sawmill Reservoir
LOCATED: Snowflake Chair Lift, near the intersection of Four O’Clock Rd, and Kings Crown Road in the town of Breckenridge, CO
BEAR CREEK FALLS
Bear Creek Falls Trail is one of Telluride’s most popular hikes, with an impressive, very scenic waterfall at the end. We loved this hike!
What a sight to behold! It’s beautiful at 80 feet high. It surprised us at how stunning it was with the gorgeous bold colors in the rocks. I can see why this is so popular in summer, with water pools and mist at the bottom — Lots of room for everyone.
Not a strenuous hike to the Falls, but a hike that anyone will enjoy, avid or beginner. If you are new to Colorado or visiting Colorado, this trail would be perfect for acclimating to the altitude or spending a day with the kids. It would also be a great beginner snowshoe trail in the winter.
5 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1,100 ft
Open to leashed dogs, mountain bikes, horses
No restrooms at the trailhead
Bear Creek Preserve
LOCATED: At the end of Pine Street in downtown Telluride, CO. No parking at the Trailhead. Limited parking on the streets nearby but they have a 3-hour limit with a fee. We found free parking at the Carhenge Lot on the southwest corner of town off of West Pacific Ave. Walk a 1/2 mile from the free parking along the San Miguel River Path to the trailhead.
LILY PAD LAKES TRAIL
Lily Pad Lakes Trail is one of those hikes you will do again! An easy day hike to a fairytale-like setting with possible moose sightings and an abundance of wildflowers in summer.
Hiking along a woodsy gentle soft path and lush alpine terrain, a couple of creek crossings along the trek will add to the inner child of even adults. Note: The best time to see the lilies in full bloom is mid to late June.
3.2 miles out and back
Start elevation: 9,928 ft.
End elevation: 10,009 ft.
Open to leashed dogs & horses
Bikes not allowed
Fishing is permitted in the second lake with valid Colorado fishing license
Located: at the top of Ryan Gulch Road in the Wildernest community of Silverthorne, CO. Parking is limited! Come early. Another option is the Summit Stage Bus: it’s free and will drop you at the Trailhead.
Rifle Falls State Park is small yet offers much more than expected. From caves & caverns to crawl through to a triple waterfall to hiking trails along the creek, it’s a unique hidden paradise: a hidden gem and a total surprise just 14 miles from Rifle, CO.
It takes about 2.5 hours to discover all the park has to offer. With kids, you might be here all day! If in Glenwood Springs or heading to or from Grand Junction, I highly recommend planning a stop at Rifle Falls State Park.
Open Year Round
Hiking: RIfle Falls Trail Map
Fees at Entrance
Bring water and food, no amneties in the Park
LOCATED: 5775 Highway 325, Rifle, CO 81650
CARIBOU RANCH OPEN SPACE
Caribou Ranch Open Space is full of Colorado history located within its boundaries. A loop trail takes you past the historic DeLonde Homestead and the famous Blue Bird Mine from the late 1880s. Families love this area — fantastic beginner snowshoeing in winter too. Build a snowman along the way!
NOTE: Caribou Ranch is closed annually from April 1 through June 30 to protect spring migratory birds and elk calving and rearing.
Caribou Ranch Open Space– about 4 miles of trails.
Nearest town: Nederland, CO
Day use only
No pets, bikes, camping, open fires
Restroom, picnic tables at trailhead
Closed: the months of April, May, June
LOCATED: Co Rd 126, Nederland, CO 80466
CUB LAKE TRAIL
Cub Lake Trail is located in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Moraine Park area. The trail comprises lush green meadows, beaver ponds, forest-lined trails, rocky canyon walls, and abundant wildlife. Our experience was Elk herds, a Moose sighting, Frogs croaking in ponds, and a Grouse who followed us for a while. Exciting hike for kids. Keep them close!
5.1 miles out & back
Rated: an easy moderate
Trail Map >CLICK HERE
Nymph Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is a short, sweet, fairytale-like hike for all skill levels. A perfect trail to see Colorado’s Rocky Mountains without much effort in all its majestic glory. It is an ideal beginner hike for little ones.
Nymph Lake Trail is the Gateway to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake as you hike farther up the trail. You can keep going …
1.1 mile out & back
For a trail map, >CLICK HERE.
HAGERMAN TUNNEL TRAIL
Hagerman Tunnel Trail, also known as Midland Trail near Leadville, CO, is famous for its stunning scenery. It is one of our favorite trails, with an alpine lake, gorgeous views, and Old Douglas City ghost town remnants scattered about.
Hagerman Tunnel Trail is the Colorado/ Midland Trail a 5.5-mile loop.
Horses and dogs ok
Nearest town: Leadville, CO
San Isabel National Forest
Part of the trail in Mt. Massive Wilderness
Hagerman Tunnel Trail starts at Colorado/ Midland Trailhead, past the trailhead for Windsor Lake. Most park at Windsor Lake Trailhead due to road conditions and hike the road to Colorado Midland Trailhead.
LOCATED: (15.4 mi) via US-24 E and County Rd 4 from the town of Leadville, CO., near Tourquoise Lake
Sitting at the base of Independence Pass in the town of Twin Lakes, CO, Inter-Laken Trail rolls gently up and down alongside one of Colorado’s most beautiful lakes.
In 2.4 miles, find yourselves at the remains of the historic“Inter-Laken Resort” built-in 1879, which is beautifully preserved.
You can go into Dexter’s cabin. The incredible detail inside the house is worth a peek. Then, head up the steep, narrow stairs to the third floor and find a cupola with views. Bring a picnic, and wander by the shores of Twin Lake: the kids love this hike.
4.7 miles out and back
Start Elevation: 9,272 ft. minimal gain
Popular for: hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback, fishing and trail running
Open year round
Nearest Towns: Twin Lakes, Leadville, Buena Vista
Part of the Colorado Trail/Collegiate West Trail
From Buena Vista: From the stoplight in downtown Buena Vista (intersection of US 24 and CR 306), head north on US 24W for 19.2 miles and turn left onto CO 82 W. (towards Twin Lakes). Drive 0.8 miles past Lost Canyon Rd and turn left onto CR 25. Go 0.5 miles to an intersection at the Dam. Turn left and continue on CR 25. Follow CR 25 for 0.1 miles and turn right at the 2nd dirt road. GO 0.3 miles to the Colorado Trail parking area.
From Leadville: From the intersection at 6th St. and Harrison (US 24), head east on US 24 E for 15 miles. Turn right onto CO 82 W. Drive 0.8 miles past Lost Canyon Rd and turn left onto CR 25. Go 0.5 miles to an intersection at the Dam. Turn left and continue on CR 25. Follow CR 25 for 0.1 miles and turn right at the 2nd dirt road. GO 0.3 miles to the Colorado Trail parking area.
It doesn’t take much to get a child interested in hiking. Just remember, a hike with a small child is not getting from point A to point B. It is about adventure, giving the child some control and letting them explore bugs, pinecones, squirrels, leaves, rocks, etc. If they have fun the first time, they will want to do it again.
Refrain from saying “be careful” too often! Let them do scary things safely. Trust them to trust themselves. Gains confidence. Not an easy thing to do!
Discuss before the hike what to do if separated. For example, let them wear a backpack with a water bottle, a first aid kit, and a safety whistle.
Keep them close to you in wildlife areas. You don’t want a mama bear to get between you and your child!
COLORADO TRAILS WE LOVED