Trails are one of the best ways to grasp Colorado’s beauty. It is one of the most magical and memorable places you can live and visit. Seeing it from its many incredible hiking trails takes you to the wonders of our mountains.

I put together 15 of our must-see hikes for exploring Colorado. Some take you to alpine lakes and waterfalls, some with eye-popping peak views, some wandering across alpine tundra, and all are incredible.

CRESTED BUTTE

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Rustler Gulch Trail

Rustler Gulch Trail is a fantastic trek near Crested Butte, CO, into meadows of wildflowers, spruce, and pine forests and ends above timberline with panoramic mountain peak views. One of the best wildflower trails we hiked! 

9 miles out and back from the road (CR317) parking area – or 7.8 miles if starting at the trailhead on 4×4 road (FR317B) — Moderate

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Scarp Ridge Trail

Scarp Ridge endpoint is a remarkable 360-degree panoramic vista, including the Ruby Range and Paradise Divide. It is A stunning ridgeline hike after a short yet slightly grueling climb. It’s worth every step. 

4.6-mile loop — Moderate to strenuous

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Clif Bloks Energy Chews – plant-based, fast fuel!

NUUN Hydration Powder – I highly recommend adding to your water at high elevations.

INDIAN PEAKS WILDERNESS

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Lost Lake via Hessie Trailhead

Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Nederland, CO, is a mecca of sensational hiking trails. Hessie Trailhead is a starting point for several hikes within Indian Peaks. Lost Lake is a family-friendly trail for backpacking and day hiking.

Four miles out and back — Moderate

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Isabelle Lake & Glacier Trail

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 a more leisurely yet beautiful day or be adventurous and hike onto Isabelle Glacier.

Isabelle Lake — 4.2 miles out & back — Moderate

Isabelle Glacier — 8.4 miles out & back — Strenuous

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HOLY CROSS WILDERNESS

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FANCY LAKE TRAIL

Fancy Lake Trail is an enchanted forest with lush greenery, wildflowers, birdsong, craggy ledges, cascading waters from snowmelt, and one stunning alpine lake. Options for more alpine lakes can keep you hiking for days in wonder!

6.2 miles out & back — Strenuous

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MOUNT MASSIVE WILDERNESS

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Native Lake Trail

Native Lake Trail, near Leadville, CO, is one of Colorado’s bucket list hikes. You’ll find yourself hiking uphill through dense pines and spruces, crossing creeks, hiking across alpine tundra above treeline, then down again with towering views of Mt. Massive and the Continental Divide.

8.2 miles out and back — Moderate

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Fish Creek Falls to Long Lake

Fish Creek Falls to Long Lake Trail is a mecca of stunning waterfalls throughout your hike and will steal your heart. It is beautiful from start to finish and packed full of all Colorado offers. 

13 miles out & back — hard

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OURAY / RIDGWAY / TELLURIDE

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Blue Lakes Trail

There is nothing like a hike in the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Hiking Blue Lakes Trail was above and beyond our expectations. If you are looking for a trail that won’t disappoint? This is it! Wow, I loved this hike!

6.3 miles out and back (first lake)  — 11 miles out and back to Blue Lakes Pass — Strenuous

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FAVORITE ESSENTIALS!

TWIN LAKES

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INTER-LAKEN TRAIL

Need an easy trail with stunning views in Colorado’s high country? Inter-Laken Trail is one of our favorite hikes for a laid-back day. Sitting at the base of Independence Pass in Twin Lakes, the Inter-Laken Trail rolls gently up and down alongside one of Colorado’s most beautiful lakes. > READ MORE & SEE PHOTOS

4.7 miles out and back — Easy — Family-friendly

WINTER HIKE! — Inter-Laken Trail is an all-season beautiful trek alongside glacier-carved alpine Twin Lakes that takes your breath away. The added destination to the historic late 1800s Inter-Laken Resort makes for an adventurous day. Perfect for families and avid hikers alike. > READ MORE & SEE PHOTOS

FREEMONT PASS / SUMMIT COUNTY

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MAYFLOWER GULCH

Mayflower Gulch Trail is an incredible adventure. An easy uphill mile tops out at the historic 1800s Boston Mine Camp with surrounding views of Mayflower Hill (elevation 12,389 ft), Pacific Peak (elevation 13,950 ft), and Fletcher Mountain (elevation 13,951 ft). Stunning! You can explore here or keep going on several trail options leading in all directions! > READ MORE & SEE PHOTOS!

Boston Mine Camp, 1.8 miles — Gold Hill and across the top: 4 miles out & back — Gold Crest Mine Site: 3 miles out & back — Easy to moderate — Family friendly

WINTER HIKE — Mayflower Gulch is just the best backcountry getaway in every season. Easy to get to and doable for just about anyone. Do this trail once, and you’ll be back! A winter trail we do every year. >READ MORE & SEE PHOTO!

Three popular brands of day hiking backpacks to consider: > Osprey (my personal favorite), > Deuter, and > Gregory backpacks.

MT. EVANS WILDERNESS

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Chicago Lakes Trail

Chicago Lakes Trail is a high-altitude delight as it winds its way to two alpine lakes into the Mt. Evans Wilderness. Wildflowers, wildlife, and views are abundant in summer. Fall and Winter hold magic as the snow settles in on the peaks. A favorite local trail!

12 miles out & back — Strenuous

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BAKERVILLE / NEAR LOVELAND SKI AREA

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Herman Gulch

Herman Gulch Trail is a heart-pumping hike through wildflower fields, landing at a crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by the Continental Divide Peaks. One of the most sought-after hikes in the front range of Colorado, for good reasons.

6.5 miles out and back — Moderate

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BERTHOUD PASS

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MT FLORA 13ER

Mt Flora is a stunning hike up a Colorado 13er that starts at treeline, with spectacular 360-degree views the entire trek — A perfect beginner peak bagger trail with an elevation gain of 1,778′. This trail is one of my favorites! 

6.2 miles out & back — Strenuous

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COTTONWOOD PASS

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PTARMIGAN LAKE TRAIL

Ptarmigan Lake Trail is a Colorado favorite trail for a fantastic half-day or full-day hike. Ascend a moderate grade through a spectacular forest. Pass a sweet lake and dreamy dispersed campsites along the path before breaking out at the tree line. Views of the highest peaks surround you as you hike across an expansive meadow and upward to Ptarmigan Lake.

6.8 miles out and back — Moderate

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LOST LAKE TRAIL

Cottonwood Pass connects the town of Buena Vista in the east to the town of Almont in the west. Views from the summit show both sides of the Continental Divide — a scenic drive loaded with spectacular hiking trails. Just minutes from the summit is a Colorado favorite, Lost Lake Trail. 

3.3 miles out and back — Easy/slightly moderate

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When hiking, you should always be aware of > altitude sickness while hiking in the Rocky Mountains at higher elevations. Be prepared for extreme sun exposure, cooler temperatures, wind, and unpredictable weather conditions. Ensure you have the > appropriate gear to keep you safe.

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

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