Think you need pine trees for an exciting Colorado hike? Well, no, you don’t. So, instead, take a trail on our beautiful mountain passes for an exhilarating day! Twenty trails that I loved and can’t wait to share. Not all are at the summit, but all are phenomenal!

All the hikes are not on 4WD mountain passes; each one is easily accessible by car.

If weather conditions are favorable and you’ve acclimated to high altitude, 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 Effects and Advice

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

Independence Pass

Independence Pass has seasonal closures: >Click Here for information

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Mountain Boy Ridge Hike at the Summit

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

A dirt road leads off the paved path to the lookout. The dirt road is the start of Mountain Boy Ridge — No signage as of our hike.

6 miles out & back

Rated: Strenuous

Nearest towns; Aspen, Leadville

Highest elevation: Near 13,000′

Independence Pass Travel Info

Restrooms at Summit

Linkins Lake Trail

Linkins Lake Trail is short, steep, gorgeous, and packed with everything Colorado on such a small adventure. So take a break on the drive over Independence Pass, 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.

1.6 miles out & back

Rated: Moderate

Lake elevation: 12,008′

Popular for fishing

Aspen Ranger District

Independence Pass Travel Info

Tennessee Pass

Tennesse Pass connects Leadville, CO to Minturn, CO

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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

Rated: Strenuous

2,345′ elevation gain

Holy Cross Wilderness

Nearest towns: Leadville, CO, and Minturn, CO

Popular for backpacking

Dogs ok

Restrooms at trailhead

Berthoud Pass Summit

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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. My first 13er, and it was spectacular. The panorama of mountain peaks spellbound me! A perfect beginner peak bagger trail with an elevation gain of 1,778′.

6.2 miles out & back

Rated: Strenuous

Restrooms

Dogs ok on leash

Summit 13,127′

Elevation gain: approx 1800′

Nearest town: Winter Park, CO

Emergency Survival Shelter, for anything that limits you from getting back to the trailhead. 

Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass closes periodically for inclement weather Click > Is Loveland Pass Open? for updates

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West Ridge Trail

West Ridge Trail, at the summit of Loveland Pass, hop out and take this trail. You will love it hiking across the top of the Continental Divide. After a short steep uphill, the rest of the trail is a breeze. Meaning, easy and windy!

There is a pull-off area for parking at the summit; you can’t miss it. Across the street is a set of stairs; this is the trailhead — no signage as of our hike.

Rated: Moderate

2.8 miles out and back

Elevation: 11,990 ft

No restrooms

Dog friendly

Nearest Town: Dillon CO or Georgetown CO

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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. Driving over Loveland Pass, not far from the summit on the west side, you’ll find a road that leads to a parking area and trailhead #9044.

Rated: Easy

0.8 mile out and back

Elevation: Above 11,000 ft.

No Restrooms

Dog friendly

Family-friendly

Watch for ever-changing Colorado weather above tree line. Comes in fast and furious at times. Head back down quickly at the earliest signs of rain, lightning, sleet, or snow.

Rabbit Ears Pass

Rabbit Ears Pass connects Routt County to Grand County (Kremmling, CO to Steamboat, CO)

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Rabbit Ears Peak Trail

Rabbit Ears Peak Trail is genuinely a surprise at the summit, with jaw-dropping views stretching as far as 100 miles. Plus, roaming around unusual rock formations on the iconic Rabbit Ears Peak is unique and fun. 

5.5 miles out & back

Rated: easy until the last 1/4 mile, then challenging!

Start elevation: 9,528′

Dog ok

Family-Friendly

Nearest town: Steamboat Springs

Routt National Forest

At the parking area – head down the road to intersecting roads. Go right, and you are on the trail to Rabbit Ears Peak; there is no signage.

Summer: Bring bug spray!

Sawyer Bug Spray – this stuff works!

Six Moon Hiking Umbrella – Sun or rain protection. I love mine.

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

Cottonwood Pass

Cottonwood Pass connects Buena Vista, CO to Almont, CO, Gunnison, CO and Crested Butte, CO

Cottonwood Pass has seasonal closures: >Click Here for information

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Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Ptarmigan Lake Trail is a Colorado favorite trail and never disappoints! Ascend a moderate grade through a spectacular forest. Pass a sweet lake and dreamy dispersed campsites along the path before breaking out at tree line. Views of the highest peaks surround you as you hike across an expansive tundra meadow and upward to Ptarmigan Lake.

Rated: Moderate

6.8 miles out and back

Elevation end: 12,300 ft.

Restroom at trailhead

Dog friendly

Nearest town: Buena Vista, CO

Boreas Pass Summit

Connects Como, CO to Breckenridge, CO

Boreas Pass has seasonal closures: >Click Here for information

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Black Powder Pass Trail 

Black Powder Pass Trail at the Summit of Boreas Pass is a slightly challenging hike to a panorama of gorgeous high-peak views! So, pack a lunch, check out the railroad relics of yesteryear, and wander up Black Powder Pass. 

For the history of Boreas Pass, > Breckenridge History has excellent information about the history in the area.

3.4 miles out & back

Rated: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 1,000′

Elevation Summit Boreas Pass – 11,481′

Nearest Town: Breckenridge, CO

Boreas Pass is closed to vehicles in the winter (approx: Oct-May) and is famous for snowshoeing and XC skiing when closed to traffic.

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Hoosier Pass

Connects Fairplay, CO to Breckenridge, CO

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Hoosier Pass Loop at the Summit

Hoosier Pass Summit is an adventure in any season — glorious views when summer hiking, famous for winter backcountry snow sports, skiing, snowshoeing & snowboarding. 

The loop is approx. 3.5 miles

Rated: Moderate

No restrooms

Large parking area

Known for extreme weather conditions

Dogs ok on leash

Mosquito Range

Park & Summit County

There is no protection from the elements above the tree line. Watch the weather before you go, and watch the skies as you hike. Colorado weather is fickle and can change in minutes at high altitudes. Look at the Practical gear in our backpacks  

> CLICK HERE

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Wheeler Lake Trail

Wheeler Lake Trail is a hidden gem beyond Montgomery Reservoir, located not far from Alma, CO; you’ll find Montgomery Reservoir and a great day hike. A gorgeous waterfall, an old mine 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.

This area is popular for weekend backpacking and exploring the 13ers.

Rated easy/moderate

6.5 miles out & back

No restrooms

Nearest Town: Alma, CO

Pike National Forest

South Park Ranger District

Fishing: Rainbow Trout stocked in Montgomery Reservoir. Shore fishing only.

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McCullough Gulch Trail

McCullough Gulch is a popular, sought-after hike in Breckenridge, CO. The trail is on the strenuous side of moderate but worth the effort. We’ve hiked here often!

Nothing is lacking on this trek; it is an alpine playground sitting alongside Quandary Peak. In addition, you will find old miners’ cabins, a stunning waterfall, a gorgeous alpine lake, and log water crossings.

NOTE: Must reserve a parking spot or take the shuttle in busy months at > Quandry Peak Trailhead Parking Reservations

2.7 miles out and back from the Trailhead + a half-mile trek to the Trailhead, making it 3.7 miles.

Rated: Moderate

Start Elevation: 11,100 ft. Elevation gain: 1,578 ft.

Portable restrooms at the overflow parking lot for Quandary Peak

Dog friendly

Popular for snowshoeing: Contact Dillon Park Ranger District for Trail conditions. 

Nearest town: Breckenridge, CO

White River National Forest

Dispersed Camping permitted

Osprey Backpacks, a popular day hiking pack. I love mine!

Kenosha Pass Summit

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Colorado Trail (Section 6)

The Colorado Trail (Section 6) crosses Hwy 285 at the Summit of Kenosha Pass. You can hike east or west and find miles of gorgeous hiking for as long as you want in all seasons. Spectacular in the fall for its golden Aspen tree forest. Go far enough to glimpse South Park and the Continental Divide range.

The Colorado Trail is a 537-mile thru-hike from Denver to Durango > CTF Homepage

Rated: easy/moderate

Restrooms

Dog friendly

Family-friendly

Your Footwear Matters!

In the hiking community, the newest trends in footwear for day hiking and thru-hiking are Altras and Hokas.

I own two pairs of Altra Lone Peaks, the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. I wear them daily! I love my > KEEN Hiking Boots for the rocky, steep terrain hikes. However, the > ALTRA Hiking Boots are on my wish list. I can’t comment on > HOKA Hiking Boots; I have never tried them.

Kebler Pass

Connects Crested Butte, CO to Paonia, CO

Kebler Pass has seasonal closures: >Click Here for information

Hikes on Kebler Pass

Dark Canyon Loop

Dark Canyon, Irwin, and Dyke Trail Loop on Kebler Pass are known for their massive aspen trees in the fall and sensational wildflowers in the summer months — A beautiful hike with endless views, incredible forests, beaver dams, and rugged mountains. 

5.9 Mile Loop

Rated: Moderate

Restroom

Open to dogs, horses

Gunnison National Forest

West Elk Wilderness

Ragged Wilderness

Nearest Town: Crested Butte, CO

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Three Lakes Trail

One of our favorite “off the beaten path” trails we found. Three Lakes Trail is a loop around three lakes on a moderately easy hike of alpine wonder. So close to timberline, yet perfect for seasoned or newbie hikers. Sporadic views of the Ruby Range & Beckwith Mountain are stunning, yet you’ll find that Dollar & Lost Lake are the highlights!

4.7- mile loop

Trail #843

Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests

Start elevation: 9,612 ft

Rated: easy/moderate

Open to hiking and horseback

Nearest towns: Crested Butte CO, Paonia, CO

Dispersed camping

Freemont Pass

Connects Copper Mountian, CO to Leadville, CO

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Mayflower Gulch

Mayflower Gulch Trail is a fantastic adventure in any season. An easy uphill mile tops out at what some call the Mayflower Amphitheater with its surrounding views of Mayflower Hill (elevation 12,389 ft), Pacific Peak (elevation 13,950 ft), and Fletcher Mountain (elevation 13,951 ft). Stunning! 

Exploring the impressive remnants of the early 1800s Boston Mine scattered throughout and venturing onto the Gold Crest Mine site adds to the hike.

This trail is an excellent hike for kids and visitors. A favorite of ours and a Thanksgiving tradition every year. Winter or summer, this hike is magical.

Boston Mine Camp, 1.8 miles,

Elevation: 10,994 ft. – 11,980 ft.

Gold Hill and across the top: approx: 4 miles out and back

Gold Crest Mine Site: approx: 3 miles out and back

Rated: easy to moderate

Open to: hiking, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, dogs, mountain bikes

Monarch Pass

Connects Poncho Springs, CO to Gunnison, CO

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Monarch Crest Trail at the Summit

Be at timberline in minutes on the Monarch Crest Trail leading off the Continental Divide Trail. One of those trails you will be excited you hiked for the views!

At the summit, start at Monarch Crest Gift Shop, walk up under the Gondola, and take the Continental Divide Trail off the road.

You will share this trail with groups of mountain bikers heading for Marshall Pass and beyond on the Monarch Crest Trail, a point-to-point popular 31.5-mile route for mountain bikers.

Rated: Moderate

Start Elevation: 11,312 ft

Miles – your choice

Be mindful of the high altitude and weather.

Waterdog Lakes Trail

Hidden on Monarch Pass, about 22 miles from Salida, Colorado, is a hiking trail soon to become one of your favorites. Challenging and invigorating, it’s a must-do for hiking enthusiasts.

You might drive by the trailhead sign several times before finding it hidden in the trees. You can find the trailhead between mile markers 202 and 203.

This area would be a perfect overnight backpacking trip. Visit San Isabel National Forest, for information on camping and any restrictions.

Rated: moderate/difficult

3.6 miles out and back

Start elevation: 10,450 ft

Top elevation: 11,400 ft.

Guanella Pass

Connects Georgetown, CO to Grant, CO

Guanella Pass has seasonal closures: >Click Here for information. 

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Silver Dollar Lake to Murray Lake Trail

Silver Dollar Lakes Trail is an authentic Colorado experience! Beautiful dense pine forest to high above timberline reaching spectacular views while passing one alpine lake, and greeted by a 2nd alpine lake, and reaching the 3rd lake at 12,178′ in elevation!

Most of the trail is across open tundra with phenomenal views of Square Top Mountain to the south and Mount Wilcox to the north. 

3.3 miles out and back to Silver Dollar Lake

4.3 miles out and back to Murray Lake

Rated: Moderate

Silver Dollar – 11,950′ elevation

Murray Lake – 12,178′ elevation

Camping: Guanella Pass Campground

Open to leashed dogs, horses

Nearest town: Georgetown, CO

Clear Creek Ranger District

Threemile Creek Trail

Threemile Creek Trail is a woodland wonder. It is a delightful trek in the forest with dense pine forests, aspen trees, rushing waters, numerous creek crossings, and extensive beaver dams. A happy place!

The trail is rated moderate but gentle, up to 4 miles. Lovely beginner hike.

Want more? You can go 12 miles out and back, gaining 2,780 ft elevation. After 4 miles, the trail becomes a steep climb up switchbacks to tree line where views of Mt. Evans, Mt Kataka, and Mt. Bierstadt are amazing.

9 miles out and back (varies)

Rated: moderate, lots of rocks & roots

Open to leashed dogs, horseback

Known for wildflowers, fall colors

Family-friendly

Restroom at Trailhead

Large parking area

Pike & Arapaho National Forest

South Park Ranger District

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Memorable Colorado Day Hikes! 

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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