Denver, Colorado, is the gateway to some of the most incredible natural phenomena in the US. And hiking is undoubtedly the best way to experience the varied terrain and soak in the breathtaking sceneries. Just a short drive away from the city, you can explore serene lakes, lush forests, alpine meadows, and mountain rivers, all against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.

Below are our picks for the best hikes near Denver.


Green Mountain Trail

Location: Denver
Length: 3.2 miles loop
Driving Time From Denver: 20 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Easy

Less than half an hour away from downtown Denver, this is the closest trail system for many in Denver. It’s an easy hike around the 6,854-foot mesa of Green mountain. The key highlights include wide-open slopes, prairie grasses, fields awash with colorful blossoms, and views of mountains beyond. Keen hikers will spot see deer, coyotes, and various birds of prey. When other trails become impassable due to bad weather, this trail is usually accessible, making it an excellent year-round hike.


The Mesa Trail

Location: Chautauqua Park, Boulder
Length: 13 miles round trip
Driving Time From Denver: 45 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Found in Chautauqua park, this trail runs along flatiron formations and foothills. It meanders through dense pine forests, narrow meadows, and grassy hillsides. Begin at Chautauqua park, go up to Eldorado Springs and make the return trip. It’s a relatively flat hike but quite challenging. Apart from the gorgeous landscape views, there’s abundant wildlife to spot. There are also many other trails around, so you have the option to explore other routes.


Red Rocks Trails

Location: Morrison
Length: 6 miles round trip
Driving Time From Denver: 25 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Red Rocks Park is home to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater and some spectacular hiking trails. While there are other shorter hikes in the park, the Red Rocks loop hike provides more access to the area’s best natural landscape and leads to panoramic views of Denver and beyond. It will take you north towards Matthew Winters Park to view the Dakota Hogback. On the trail, keep your eyes open for sightings of red foxes, coyotes, mule deer, bobcats, rabbits, and other wildlife.


Mohawk Lakes Trail

Location: Near Breckenridge Town
Length: 6.8 miles round trip to Upper Lake
Driving Time From Denver: 1 hour 40 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Mohawk Lakes Trail is one of the best hikes near Denver. From the trailhead, follow the Spruce Creek trail, which goes through a thick forest of lodgepole pines, firs, and aspens, cross a footbridge and enter an open place that provides views of Mt. Hellen to the west. Farther ahead, you’ll come across eye-catching wildflowers, a small dam, a beautiful granite waterfall, and an old mine shaft before arriving at the dazzling Lower Mohawk lake. Upper Mohawk lake is less than half a mile from here. Head there to gaze at the rugged southern section of the Tenmile Range. Wear proper hiking footwear as the trail is a bit rocky with lots of tree roots.


Rim Rock Trail

Location: Castlewood Canyon
Length: 4.5 miles
Driving Time From Denver: 45 Minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

If you’re looking for a break from the alpine meadow trails, do the desert-like Rim Rock Hike. Running along the eastern rim of Castlewood Canyon, this trail offers glimpses into all of the state park’s diverse ecosystems. Your eyes will feast upon evergreen trees, golden sandy terrain, cascading waterfalls, rocky crags, and of course, a canyon. At the top of the rim, fantastic views abound in every direction–green rural farmland, great plains, valleys, and meandering rivers. There’s no shade on this trail, so be sure to bring enough water and sun protection.


Fountain Valley Trail

Location: Near Littleton
Length: 2.3 miles
Driving Time From Denver: 45 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Easy

Roxborough State Park offers some of the most incredible hikes near Denver. Here, vibrant red-orange sandstone ridges and striking spires encompass the landscape. To hike the Fountain Valley trail, start on the valley floor, then work your way up to the high trail that looks down and across the fountain formation. To get there, you’ll weave through open grasslands, scrub oak meadows, and enchanting evergreen forests. Wildlife to spot includes whitetail deer, eagles, and great blue herons.


Lake Isabelle Trail

Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area
Length: 8.6 miles
Driving Time From Denver: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

A hike to Lake Isabelle can give you a taste of everything magical about being outdoors in Colorado. The trail’s scenery will leave you breathless and in awe of the majesty of nature. It showcases the state’s gorgeous alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, and wildflower-filled meadows. Your ramble will begin in the Brainard Lake Recreational center and enter the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The hike is long but moderate, making it ideal for hikers of all skill levels.


Sleepy Lion Trail

Location: Near Lyons
Length: 5.4 miles loop
Driving Time From Denver: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate

With charming views for miles and spectacular forested pathways, this trail is a dream hiker’s destination found in the Roosevelt National Forest. It’s a well-kept secret with less traffic because it’s hidden a few miles up a dirt road near Lyons. The hike starts on a dirt road that parallels a raging stream, skirts around a couple of enchanting dams, and emerges at a scenic reservoir. You’ll come across several varieties of interesting plants and spot wildlife like osprey, coyotes, and even black bears.


Elk Falls Overlook

Location: Staunton State Park
Length: 10.8 miles round trip
Driving Time From Denver: 40 minutes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate/Difficult

Elk Falls Overlook, one of the top hikes near Denver, is located in Colorado’s Staunton State Park, which was opened to the public in 2013. Your hike will begin at the Staunton Ranch Trail, weave through stands of ponderosa pine, pass the Staunton Rocks climbing area and come to Elk Falls Pond. Take a breather here and then trek another mile to Elk Falls Overlook. Take in the glorious sounds and sights of the highest falls near Denver.


Explore the Best of Denver

Pack a trail map, lace up your boots, wear your backpack, get outside and start exploring the natural beauty surrounding Denver. No matter what trail you pick, you’re sure to have a phenomenal time.