No doubt about it: Colorado is one of the best hiking destinations in North America. From grand mountain peaks, mist-filled forests, high alpine lakes, rushing streams, to dramatic rock formations, the centennial State has everything that compels a person to explore the outdoors.

Its more than 5000 miles of hiking trails are diverse, astounding, and exhilarating. This list of the eight best hikes in Colorado is filled with insane views and epic miles. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner, you’ll find a trail perfect for you.

Let’s get started.


Four Pass Loop

Location: Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen
Length: 26 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,920 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate/difficult

Hands down, the Four Pass Loop is one of the best hikes in Colorado. Beginning at the Maroon Snowmass Trailhead, this strenuous loop crosses over four high altitude passes and offers jaw-dropping views of mountains, pristine lakes, gorgeous waterfalls, and alpine meadows decorated with wildflowers. To soak in all its offerings, most hikers prefer to traverse it at a more leisurely pace, completing the trek in 2-3 days. Although the high-altitude climbs are quite challenging, every step will be well worth it.


Garden of the Gods Inner Loop

Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Length: 1.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 30 feet
Difficulty Rating: Easy

The Garden of the Gods is a geological wonderland. Its collection of towering red rock formations slice through the clear blue sky and create a memorable backdrop. You’ll love the jagged rock groupings, diverse landscape, and breathtaking views of Pikes Peak Mountain. There are over 21 miles to explore, and you can pick your own route or use the popular trails to get an up-close view of the famous formations. Some of the must-see rocks are the Kissing Camels on the west side and Sleeping Giant on the southern loop.


Devil’s Head Lookout

Location: Deckers, CO, in Pike National Forest
Length: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 940 feet
Difficulty Rating: Easy/intermediate

Just an hour from Denver, this is an excellent place for a quick outing. This hike begins in a glade of towering aspens, meanders through rocky sections, and cuts through open meadows. The Devil’s fire lookout is the only one of its kind in Colorado, and it’s been in service for over a century. The top offers outstanding 360-degree views of the front range and Pikes Peak. Trees shade nearly half the trail, so you won’t have much trouble staying cool.


Emerald Lake

Location: Estes Park, CO, in Rocky Mountain National Park
Length: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 864 miles
Difficulty Rating: Easy/intermediate

Emerald Lake is one of the most accessible hikes in Rocky National Park. It’s a great option for people of all ages and ability levels. Starting at Bear Lake, you’ll soak in a total of four iconic alpine lakes, pass a small waterfall near the end, and even encounter wildlife. The lovely vistas will take your breath away, and you’ll find yourself stopping too often to gaze and snap photos. The only challenging section is when you’re near the crown jewel–Emerald Lake. There’s a steep uphill climb and some stairs. Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain create the spectacular backdrop of Emerald Lake. Makes sure you start the hike before 8 am to avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms.


Cascade Creek to Mirror Lake

Location: Tabernash
Length: 14.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,375 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate/difficult

The Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake trail is a gorgeous hike that attracts fewer hikers due to its distance. If you reach the lake before dusk, you’ll catch a dazzling reflection of the majestic Lone Eagle Peak on the water. There’s a lot of scenery to enjoy on the trail. You’ll weave through several creeks, pass through waterfalls and wildflowers, and cross a few bridges. If you get to Mirror Lake and still have some energy left, walk another 2 miles to crater lake. You’ll get a stunning view of Lone Eagle Peak and Mount Achonee soaring above the lake. While the trail is largely well-maintained, there are places where it’s easy to lose the path. Having a GPS will come in handy.


Ice Lake

Location: Near Silverton Colorado
Length: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,430 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate/Difficult

A masterpiece of the natural world, Ice Lake is up there with the most scenic Colorado hiking trails. The hike begins at South Mineral Campground, enters a canopy of thick conifer forest, passes through stretches of wildflower-filled-meadows, and comes close to numerous waterfalls before leading to two gorgeous lake basins. Hikers gasp at the sight of the ice-blue color of Upper Ice lake surrounded by several dramatic peaks. It’s an adventure that will never float far from your lifetime memories.


Hanging Lake

Location: Near Glenwood Springs
Length: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,065 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Hanging Lake is a stunning hike that starts in Glenwood Canyon and leads to two breathtaking waterfalls and a magnificent lake. While it’s one of the most rewarding trails, it will also get your heart pumping. It’s steep, rigorous, and rocky, and you gain elevation fast. One of the best features of the hike is that it follows and crisscrosses a mountain stream all the way. You can spot trout in the blue-green lake water and small birds that nest on the rocks near the water. The cool air from the canyon will keep you refreshed, but if you need to catch your breath, there are rest benches and rocks along the trail. Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes as some sections are slippery.


Rattlesnake Arches

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
Length: 14 miles
Elevation Gain: 437 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate/Difficult

If you’re looking for a memorable opportunity for solitude and primitive recreation, lace up your boots and head to Rattlesnake Arches Trail. This round-trip hike will lead you to the second-highest concentration of arches in the United States. Its key draws include sunset-red canyons, sandstone pinnacles, and around three dozen natural arches. Alert hikes will also spot mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, grey foxes, and golden eagles. Few come here because of its remote location. You’ll need a 4×4 to reach the trailhead.


Colorado is a Hiker’s Paradise

While you should definitely include these eight hikes on your outdoor adventure bucket list right away, there are hundreds of other trails showcasing Colorado’s impressive variety in difficulty, distance, and landscape. Don’t be surprised if you keep returning over and over again.