A Hike with a view is simply the best medicine for the soul. Being decently close to home, Colorado is always a yes in my book. About a 10 hour drive, or 1.5 hour flight from Kansas City, Colorado is one of my most visited states. I’ve come up with a list of some of the best scenic hikes, for you to use while planning your next trip to Colorado. Do keep in mind, this is an accumulation of many separate trips taken!
I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. Showing you a photo of the views, explain a bit about the trail, and linking anything you may need. I’ve divided everything up based on the area I stayed.
From each hike linked, you will have directions to the trailhead via AllTrails. If you upgrade to pro, you’ll have a map of the trail, and it’ll track your hike. I always read up on the latest comments, before heading out. People will post about the conditions of the trail, how full the parking lot was at what time, wildlife spotting, and more!
Isabelle Glacier Trail– We are going to start off with my most recent, and now favorite hike in Colorado. She’s a beauty, but she aint easy. With 9 miles of ice covered trails, showing up prepared is key. Check out my cold weather gear list here. The snow dusted mountains, the mirror lakes, the tall evergreens, this hike is nonstop views. Located in Brainard Lake Recreation, just outside of Nederland, CO. You will need a reservation to enter, click here to book. Because we went in off season, the trail was not super busy. I would still recommend getting an early start. We parked at about 8am and got back to the car around noon.
Barker Meadow Reservoir– A nice little park to wander. Very family and pet friendly, would be a great spot for a picnic. Super convenient, being right off the road. Tons of parking, and porto potty on site. We did the out and back Barker Meadow Trail, on a sunny afternoon.
Nederland has a cute little downtown area, just a few minutes away. I’ve hung out there a few times, and always enjoy going back. Great restaurants and shops to stop in.
Idaho Springs Hikes:
My favorite, and most visited area in Colorado, is Idaho Springs. Somehow I always end up here, and love it so much. It’s a tiny little town, with many hikes within an hours drive. Might I add, the drives are stunning. While there are many hikes in the area, Idaho Springs also has the most charming downtown area. Maybe I just have a thing for lil mountain towns. I always stop at Beau Jo’s for pizza, and Westbound and Down Brewery, when i’m in town. Unfortunately, the Airbnb I loved most, has been taken down. Check the hosts other listings here, for places to stay in the area.
Saint Mary’s Glacier– Easy, 2.4 mile out and back trail with stunning views. I went in August, but this trail could be done any time of year. We did this as a warm up, to hike Bierstadt the following day. Make sure to have proper gear in the winter. I saw a lot of spikes recommended comments on AllTrails. Small lot, don’t forget to pay for parking!
Mount Bierstadt– My first 14er! 7.8 mile, out and back trail, with a 2,765 ft elevation gain. We started before sunrise at about 6am, in mid August. Getting a good pace going is key, as the elevation will getcha. In my opinion, the scramble at the top was the hardest part. The early start is worth the wake up call, on the way down it was like watching ants march in a line up the mountain. This one will take few hours, so make sure to bring TP, water, and snacks! Layers will be your best friend, even in August it gets cold up top. Gloves would have been handy, pun intended.
South 600 to Square Top Lakes– Different perspective of Mt Beirstadt, in a different season. 4.9 mile, out and back trail, dog friendly. It was moderately busy when we were there in October. A bit windy and cold, but with the proper layers, a very beautiful hike. You’ll park at Guanella Pass Summit. Same lot as you would to access Mt Bierstadt. There is a decent amount of parking, but it does fill up fast. Bathrooms on site. No permit or reservations needed.
Snow shoe trail:
Second Creek to Broome Hut– Winter wonderland, of fresh flurries dusting the tree tops. What a magical trail to snow shoe. 2.3 mile out and back, dog friendly. I bet it would be a great hike in the spring as well. It was only 10 degrees on our hike in January, burrrrr. Definitely need 4 wheel drive to get here in the winter, as there was a storm coming in on our way down.
Second Creek Trail is about a 40 minute drive from Idaho Springs, up towards Winter Park.
Georgetown is another cute little mountain town you can stop by, on the way to or from your hikes. I’ve eaten at The Happy Cooker, a few times for brunch, delicious. Get the massive cinnamon roll!
There are many other hikes in the area, one being Silver Dollar Lake and Murray Lake Trail. We didn’t complete this hike, due to ice and not having our spikes. Beautiful area, would definitely go back. Again, early start is smart, limited parking. 4 wheel drive recommended for the steep cruise up.
You can drive the Guanella Pass to get most of the hikes listed above. It’s absolutely gorgeous in the fall when all the aspens are changing.
Just about 25 minutes outside of Idaho Springs, sits Evergreen. I’ve both stayed in Evergreen, or just driven from Idaho Springs. To be completely honest, my hikes aren’t usually super planned out before arriving at a destination. I get there, log on to AllTrails, and figure it out. But here are a few stops we made, and enjoyed in the area.
Independence Mountain Trail at Pence Park– 2.1 mile out and back, with a loop at the top. We did the North loop up, South loop down. This was a great warm up hike, to get our bodies used to the elevation change.
Elk Meadow Park– Just 20 minutes from Pence Park, in Evergreen. More of a walking path, then a trail. Lots of families riding bikes, walking with strollers, and dogs on the trail.
Estes Park Hikes:
Bear Lake Nature Trail– I’ve been here a few times. It seems to be the go-to spot, when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. For good reason, it’s a beautiful, and an easily accessible trail. With that being said, its VERY busy. The first time I went was in March, and we were lucky to get a spot in the lot. Round two in August, was not so lucky, the lot was full before 8am. Even with needing to have reservations to enter, the lots fill fast. We drove a bit down the road, and found the hike below. We even saw a moose on the way in, an omen for a good day.
Glacier Creek, Bear Lake, Bierstadt, Switchback Loop– The trail that ended up being our back up, plan to get to Bear Lake. It was a LONG trek, ending the day with over 10 miles, because we got lost. But, wound up seeing so many gorgeous areas we wouldn’t have seen with just with Bear Lake Trail.
Emerald Mountain Trail– Just a few minutes from our Estes Park Airbnb, we stumbled upon this gem. Even in the height of busy season, we almost had the trail to ourselves. While it was smokey from the wildfires, you could still see views for days. There were a few campground close by if that’s your jam! Estes Park Campground East portal, by the entrance. Glacier Basin Campground, a bit further in. There was plenty of parking when we arrived, late in the afternoon.
Gem Lake Trail– 3.10 mile out and back trail, leading up to a pretty little lake. This was one of my very first hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I just remember loving all the little chipmunks that came to play.
While I’ve been to Estes Park a few times, I haven’t seen it all when it comes to hiking. Check out some other hikes in the area here. Don’t forget, to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park, there is a fee. Check here to see what reservations may be needed for your next trip.
Colorado and Manitou Springs Hikes:
Garden of the Gods– An iconic stop, if you happen to find yourself in Colorado Springs. The way the jagged rocks jet out of the ground, make it a place like no other. You can simply cruise around the park, and take it all in from the car. Or if you’re like me, make multiple stops along the way. There are plenty of places to pull off, park, and explore. My favorite stop is the the all the way at the end. That is where this photo was taken. Views overlooking all of Colorado Springs, and it tends to be a little less busy.
Seven Falls to Inspiration Point– Quite a touristy thing to do, but hey! Let’s be tourists for the day! Climb the 224 steps to the top, and back down. There were some hikes and areas to wander once getting to the top. Family and dog friendly! It cost $16 dollars to enter. You must park at 1045 Lower Gold Camp Rd located at Norris Penrose Event Center, and take the bus or walk in. Click here if you want to learn more about The Broadmoor Seven falls.
I’m not sure what it is about this area and the steps, but its the thing to do around Colorado and Manitou Springs. The Incline Trail, is probably one you’ve seen a photo of. Reservations are free, but necessary for this climb. We opted for the hike vs the stairs, leading to the top of The Incline Trail. Barr Trail is 6.1 mile, out and back. You can actually hop on to the Manitou Incline half way through, via Barr Trail. Even starting early, this trail was quite busy. Make sure to get a parking ticket at the machine, and leave it in your window.
This was a spur of the moment, solo adventure for me. I rented this sweet Airbnb, and explored the Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne area. Aside from the hikes, Frisco has great downtown area to eat, shop, and wander. I also rented a kayak at the Frisco Marina, and had myself a time.
Mayflower Gulch Grand Traverse– 6.1 mile, out and back trail, with 1,548 ft elevation gain. The elevation gain happens pretty quick, so pace yourself. Wandering through the evergreens on the way up was very peaceful, early in the morning. After a while you approach this vacant cabin, then to these lush views.
I brought snacks, and my journal, and hung out around here for quite some time. There was still a bit of snow at the top in June. Layers kept me from getting too hot or cold, depending on where I was during the hike.
Sapphire Point Overlook Trail– .6 mile loop of scenic views in every direction. It’s always quite busy here, but definitely worth the visit. Being family, and pet friendly, there is a nice little spot with picnic tables for lunch! The parking lot is small, but people are always coming and going.
Dillon Reservoir– You’ll probably drive around the reservoir on your way to Sapphire Point, depending on which way you come. I couldn’t help but pull over to watch the sunset, I mean look at it. There were plenty of areas to park along side the road.
Another stop I made for sunset was the Loveland Pass. There is a few nice hikes there, if you go early enough.
And there you have it, a quick list of some of the most scenic hikes in Colorado. I hope this inspires you to get to planning your next adventure. Make sure to leave no trace behind! Let me know in the comments below, if you’ve hit any of these trails. Or if there’s any I should add to my list for next time!