Things to do in Denver

Hikes Near Denver

Denver’s landscape lends itself to charming nature hikes — the outdoors await.

Constant companions to Colorado's capital, the Rocky Mountains stand tall and proud just beyond the city’s bounds. Embracing nature and hiking through them is one of the most relaxing and eye-opening things to do in Denver.

For those overcome with the urge to roam, the city's surrounding landscape makes the perfect canvas for charting an upward course. Topographical diversity means the hikes near Denver take countless forms, varying in terrain, incline, and intensity.

Established and curious hikers equipped with heavy boots and a thirst for the unknown can find joy in the area's natural crooks and crevices.

Touch the stratosphere by walking your way across the Mile High City. Here are 18 Denver hiking trails worth the trek.

Easy Hikes

Not so sure-footed? Ease into your hiking era with these beginner-friendly trails.

1. Cherry Creek Trail

Your Denver hiking adventure begins in the heart of the city. The Cherry Creek Trail winds through familiar streets just steps away from Denver landmarks. The 42 miles of this expansive walking path are mostly paved, with easy access points at popular public parks.

Bikers whiz by as pet owners guide their pups along the flat trail, ideal for spontaneous strolling on an otherwise uneventful day. Gentle terrain means Cherry Creek is a fruitful route in any season.

Spend the warm months toting a picnic basket to enjoy beneath the spruce trees, and bundle up for a brisk foray along the river in the winter.

Close contact with city life puts shops and dining spots within walking distance for a convenient way to get your steps in.

2. Bear Creek Trail at Lair o' the Bear Park

Not far into the Rocky Mountain foothills lies Lair o' the Bear Park. This wildflower-studded space has quaint clearings and quick trails you can clear in an afternoon.

Take the Bear Creek Trail into the woods for a 7-mile amble among shady trees and focused fishermen.

With an elevation gain of under 150 feet, this out-and-back path is well-suited for families and furry friends. At Bear Creek's end, spare a moment to take in the historic Dunafon Castle across the way.

South Valley Park Trails

Red sandstone rises from the earth in solid furls across South Valley Park, a wide-open lowland with stunning top-down views of the grassy plain. The trailhead points to eight routes, each beneath an unimpeded curtain of dramatic blue skies.

It's a choose-your-own-adventure type of park. Trails here range from 127 to 633 feet of elevation for an hour or two (or three!)of unadulterated natural exploration.

While you stroll, take in the crisp valley air and keep an eye peeled for local wildlife hiding in the lush folds of the knoll.

3. Matthews/Winters Park

Even beginners can bathe in the splendid scenic views that fleck Denver hikes of all stripes. Matthews/Winters Park leads burgeoning hikers between Colorado's monumental red rocks. Here, fiery dust drifts across the path all the way.

Point your feet in the direction of Cherry Gulch Loop for an easy 2.9-mile trek up 410 feet of elevation. Smooth trails make this excursion ideal for a quick trip that gets you home by lunchtime.

The nearby Dinosaur Ridge archeological site boasts a conveniently placed restaurant, along with some paleontological history, so you can feed both your belly and your brain.

4. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Few Denver locations offer better visuals than Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Lakes backdropped by snowy mountain peaks leave visitors believing they've stepped into a photograph.

Start your exploration at the cozy Information Center, where you'll discover over 10 trails with varying distances and difficulty.

This introduction to a beloved state park invites casual nature lovers to dip their toes into the joys of the outdoors, quickly eliciting a desire to venture further into the unknown world just outside the city.

Bring your camping gear for an overnight dive into the Colorado wilderness.

Photographer: Gaining Visuals

Moderate Hikes

Step lightly into these moderate Denver hikes — invigorating but still manageable for newfound amblers.

5. Mount Falcon Castle Trail

High above Denver's tallest architectural marvel sits the shattered ruins of an ancient castle.

Lost to time but not forgotten by Colorado mountain-goers, John Brisben Walker Castle is a not-so-secret reward for those who make the trek up this 2.3-mile loop.

Approaching from Mount Falcon's Western side is key if you hope to avoid the strenuous task of scaling the Eastern face. A 2,000-foot elevation puts this hike firmly in the "moderate" category, with the Western face offering manageable inclines — even for the indoor-inclined.

At the top, take in the castle's brick rubble while snapping photos of the sprawling city in the distance. Fill your bag with lunchtime treats, and take a pit stop at the Eagle Eye Shelter to refuel.

6. Deer Creek Canyon Park

The soft rustle of prairie grass and the soothing flow of the hills at Deer Creek Canyon Park make it a veritable utopia among those looking to escape the city's grind. Deer Creek's classic loop combines two trails to form a 2.7-mile path from the trailhead and back.

With an elevation gain of 500 feet, this route will get your heart pumping without distracting you from the vibrant tree cover and stunning natural rock formations. Dust off your picnic basket for a cozy snack among the flora halfway through the two-hour jaunt.

7. Elk Meadow Park

Wild elk really do roam the valleys of Elk Meadow Park, their thundering hooves echoing off the surrounding hillsides. Over 14 miles of hiking trails crisscross the park, but it's the Meadow Loop route that just-blooming hikers can't miss.

A 593-foot elevation gain makes for a steady 4-mile round that can be accomplished in under 2 hours.

A diverse collection of vegetation creates scenery that shifts with every step, leaving Denver hikers visually fulfilled by the loop's end.

An old, wooden barn, stately ponderosa pines, and flowered meadows make for spectacular vistas begging to be immortalized in a painting.

Photographer: Nick Thomas

8. Roxborough State Park

More than 300 million years ago, an unassuming patch of sandstone began to tilt upon the ground that would later become Colorado.

Today, the brick-red rock is known as the Fountain Formation, a sea of ribbed scales cresting from the earth like shark fins.

Roxborough State Park's South Rim Trail guides hikers along the nearby hogback for an eagle-eyed glimpse of the slanted land.

With a 500-foot elevation gain, the 1.8-mile track is studded with optimal viewing points and adorned with leafy scrub oak where cottontail rabbits like to hide.

9. St. Mary's Glacier

At 1.5 miles round-trip, the hike up to St. Mary's Glacier is ideal for moderate hikers despite its nearly 500-foot elevation gain.

Any extra burn in your legs is over fast — and forgotten completely the second you crest the hill and find yourself atop an ancient glacier with a panoramic view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.

Against the waters of St. Mary's Lake, this permanent snowfield sends chills up any spine, and not from the cold. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top as you breathe in the cool, silent mountain atmosphere.

If you’re taking a trip from Denver to the Rocky Mountain National Park, though, don’t forget to check out our guide to plan the trip.

Photographer: Paul Arterburn

Challenging Hikes

Push yourself on these challenging trails, powered by the promise of unparalleled views.

10. Mount Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail

Dual-canyon views line the rugged ridge of Mount Galbraith Loop, a steep, stony trail with unimpeded sightlines into the valleys below.

An elevation gain of over 900 feet with narrow paths and sharp sides makes this 4.2-mile route a worthy challenge for avid hikers.

At the zenith of Mount Galbraith, pause to absorb the sprawling sights — so naturally captivating, you'll forget you're only 25 minutes from downtown Denver.

Hikes here are best served early in the morning when you can watch the sunrise over the canyon and hear hummingbirds chirp from the creek banks below.

11. Devil's Head Lookout

The quintessential hike for Colorado wanderers, Devil's Head Lookout offers a historic surprise halfway through its out-and-back route. Nestled into the Front Range of Pike National Forest, mountain scenery means mountainous terrain.

The trail's 1.4 miles feature an 865-foot gain spread throughout a glen of white aspens and mysterious rock formations.

A stretch of bright red steps at the end of the path marks the climb to the fire lookout tower, where 360-degree views offer a sky-high glimpse of the majestic range layered over the surrounding landscape.

12. Royal Arch Trail

Clear days bring flocks of hikers to the Royal Arch Trail. Although this quick path only spans a mile, the 1,153-foot elevation gain and narrow trail width mean greater exertion and concentration are necessary.

Tight switchbacks and loosely packed rocks add to the challenge, although the geological marvel at the top is worth the extra effort.

For a less congested trail, visit in the early morning and leave your four-legged friend at home. When you've reached the peak, be sure to step through the rocky arch for unmatched views of Boulder in the distance.

13. Chief Mountain Trail

Spruce trees line the forest in formation along the Chief Mountain Trail, an almost 3-mile round-trip stretch just past Idaho Springs.

A 948-foot elevation gain rises hikers above the woods and into a dusty tundra, beyond which looms the massive Front Range.

Periodic panoramas spot the trail at switchback clearings, but the true view is at the trail's end. Here, mountains bookend the vista from east to west, and changing seasons turn the far-below aspens into a palette of jeweled red and yellows.

14. Bear Peak Trail

From base to tip, the Bear Peak Trail is a lengthy feat for the casual hiker. But beyond the hard-earned sweat of physical exertion, conquering this rocky summit grants you a one-way ticket to sweeping views of Colorado's Front Range.

Start off slow beside a creek and cozy log cabin before embarking on a steeper trek through ponderosa forests, murmuring friendly greetings to the occasional deer as you move along. At the trail's end, muster one last push up a small rock rise to grasp the summit marker in frenzied triumph.

Although spectacular scenery awaits at any time of day, the swirling blue and yellow flames of the sky at sunrise are sublime.

Photographer:Andy Sanchez

Advanced Hikes

Prove you're a mighty mountaineer by cresting these formidable peaks. You'll feel like you've been transported into our Wall Act, as seen in our show OVO.

15. The Incline at Manitou Springs

Following a former cable car track, the Manitou Springs Incline is a heart-pumping workout spot where you can enjoy natural splendor.

Consisting of 2,768 steps, each adding nearly a foot of elevation, this is one of the steepest hikes near Denver — just right for experienced hikers in need of a true challenge.

Once you've reached the summit and absorbed the views, four downhill miles of the nearby Barr Trail are your way back to earth. Make sure you reserve your Incline ascent well before making the trip to Manitou Springs.

16. Grays and Torreys Peaks

Have you ever climbed two mountains at once? Grays and Torreys is the place for this rare opportunity, where less than a mile separates the summits, each of which is over 14,000 feet above sea level. More than 3,000 feet of gained elevation means it's steep, rocky terrain all the way through.

Unique scenery combines industrial mining ruins with longstanding willow trees. When you've climbed to Grays Peak, shift to the adjoining trailhead to clear the final mile up to Torreys.

17. Mount Bierstadt

Another Colorado Fourteener, Mount Bierstadt, is nearly an 8-mile climb up a steep, stony ridge and back. This suits well-versed hikers eager to tackle one of the best hikes near Denver.

High up in the Rocky Mountains, the view from the top of Bierstadt offers a glimpse straight down to the earth below. Before you ascend, pay close attention to weather forecasts; storms can rush in faster than you'd think.

Photographer: caleb weiner

Embracing the Beauty of the Mile High City

At the pinnacle of Denver's tallest peaks, it's easy to feel like you're on top of the world. Rushing mountain air and the chatter of swaying leaves mingle into a swirl of hazy splendor.

Here, nature's clean charm pulls you into the present moment, so spectacular it's almost surreal. But visual marvels also exist below the clouds amidst the flashing lights of a Denver theater.

When night falls, take your seat at one of our shows to witness a performance unlike any other. Our gravity-defying acrobats whirl and twirl through the air as colors dance around them in a tapestry of art brought to life.

Sweeping orchestral scores breathe emotion into storylines studded with thrills and dramatics. Immerse yourself in the story, and you'll gasp at every soaring feat.

Treat yourself to the spectacular things in life. Secure your seats at one of our shows in Denver today.

More articles about