Denver Hiking Trails

Although many of these Denver hiking trails will be in the Denver area, you will also find hikes that are within easy reach of Denver. That way, if you're here on vacation, you can do some close-in hikes to help you get used to the altitude.

Then when you're ready, you can do some higher elevation hikes where the scenery is usually better. And if you live here, well, you can do whatever you want!

Anyway, if you're ready, here's the first Denver hiking trail for this page:

Hayden/Green Mountain loop trail

Hayden/Green Mountain loop
Trailhead: Hayden/Green Mountain;
Roundtrip distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate
Approximate roundtrip hiking time: one hour and 5 minutes;
Dog friendly: yes but dogs must be leashed;
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: yes, at the parking area;
Elevation: 6,770 feet at highest point;

Directions to Hayden/Green Mountain trailhead: from west Denver, follow C-470 south to Morrison Road. Turn east and go 2.2 miles to Bear Creek Blvd. Turn left on Bear Creek Blvd. and go 2.2 miles straight ahead. The road soon becomes Alameda Parkway East. Look for the sign on your right that says: Hayden/Green Mountain trailhead. The trailhead is just beyond the sign, and on your left.

This trail is very open; as in, no trees. So you definitely need your sunscreen for this one. There's a sign at the parking lot which, among other things, says that rattlesnakes live in the area, mountain lions have been reported in the area, and that mule deer can sometimes be seen. We didn't see any of the above but we did hear a lot of meadowlarks.

The sign also said that bison used to live in the area, so I tried to imagine what that must have been like. Anyway, to start this hike, follow the Green Mountain trail, which starts from either end of the parking lot. We started it from the right side. The trail starts to climb moderately almost immediately. As you climb, you can look down and see Denver and the whole surrounding area.

Also, some Denver hiking trails are good wildflower hikes, and this is one of them. The peak bloom is usually from about mid May through June. We were here in mid May so the flowers were just starting to bloom. Anyway, before long, you'll reach the intersection with the Hayden trail. Turn left on the Hayden trail and head back down the mountain.

Eventually, you'll reach the intersection with the Green Mountain trail again. Follow that left to complete the loop back to the parking lot.

Scenery along the Meadowlark/Plymouth loop trail

Meadowlark/Plymouth loop
Trailhead: Deer Creek Canyon Park;
Roundtrip distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate
Approximate roundtrip hiking time: one hour and 25 minutes;
Dog friendly: yes but dogs must be leashed;
Entrance fee: no
Restroom facilities: yes, at the parking area;
Elevation: 6,550 feet at highest point;

Directions to Deer Creek Canyon Park: from west Denver, follow C-470 south to Wadsworth. Then go south, (right), on Wadsworth, for 0.25 miles. Next, turn right onto Deer Creek Canyon Road. Look for Grizzly Drive and turn left onto it when you see it. Then turn right into the parking area for Deer Creek Canyon Park.

Deer Creek Canyon Park used to be a campground for the Ute and Arapaho Indians. Now it's a place to enjoy Denver hiking trails on foot, on your bike, or on your horse. Some trails at this park are hiker-only, and others are multi-use. The Meadowlark trail is hiker-only and the Plymouth trail is a multi-use trail.

From the parking area, follow the Meadowlark trail, which is on your right. It starts out along an easy path in an open area. Before long, it starts to climb more moderately, and in a short time, you'll reach a shady section. You'll see flowers along the trail, as well as scrub oak. In various places along the trail, you will also be able to look down the mountain and see the red sandstone rock formations.

Eventually, you'll start to hear the water from Plymouth Creek. Soon after that, you'll reach the bridge that crosses it, and on the other side is the Plymouth Creek trail. Follow it left, (down), and take your time since it's pretty rocky, and relatively steep. Also, be on the lookout for bikers, since you are likely to encounter them on this Denver hiking trail.

Matthews/Winters Park, Golden, Colorado

Red Rocks/Morrison Slide loop
Roundtrip distance: 4.2 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate;
Approximate roundtrip hiking time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Restroom facilities: yes
Elevation: 6,200 feet at the trailhead;
Dog friendly: yes but they must be leashed;
Entrance fee: no

Directions to Matthews/Winters Park, in Golden: from the Denver area, take I-70 west to exit 259. Then turn left, (south), onto County Road 93 under I-70. (County Road 93 was not marked when we did this hike but it’s the first road you arrive at as you come off exit 259.) After you make your left turn, take your first right onto the Matthews/Winters Park access road. You’ll see the parking lot, and the trailhead is just beyond the footbridge.

From the parking lot, you’ll see the trail that goes down to the sign saying Matthews/Winters Park. The sign will give you information about the area, and a map that shows the trails at Matthews/Winters Park, including the Red Rocks/Morrison Slide loop trail. Also, Denver hiking trails can be busy, and this is one of those. So try to get there early, especially on nice weather weekends.

Anyway, cross the footbridge over the water, and follow the Red Rocks trail. At one point, you’ll cross a shallow creek and if you look on one side, you’ll see that it forms a pretty little cascade flowing down the hill. Continue on and before long, you’ll see the sign on your right for the Morrison Slide trail. Follow that trail and be ready for the series of switchbacks that you’ll be climbing.

Eventually, you’ll make your way to the top. At that point, you’ll walk across a flat area for a short time before you start heading down the other side in another series of switchbacks. At the intersection that you’ll come to, make sure you follow the Red Rocks sign going straight, and up the short incline; not down. Otherwise you’ll have a long climb back up to continue the loop and reach the parking lot.

At the top of the short incline, follow the trail left and continue along the Red Rocks trail. Eventually, you’ll pass the spot where you started the loop at the beginning of the Morrison Slide trail. Continue on your way until you find yourself back at the parking lot.

You might also want to know that this is one of a number of Denver hiking trails where you might see a rattlesnake. We didn’t see any but a couple of people on the trail told us they did. So keep an eye out.

Maxwell Falls trail; near Evergreen, Colorado

Maxwell Falls
One-way distance: 2.0 miles
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes;
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 8,400 feet at the falls
Dog friendly: yes, but must be leashed
Entrance fee: no

Directions to Maxwell Falls trailhead: from the Denver area, follow I-70 west towards Evergreen and take exit 252 which is the Evergreen Parkway/Hwy. 74. Follow Hwy. 74 for about 7.6 miles to downtown Evergreen where Hwy. 74 and Hwy. 73 meet. (Hwy. 73 wasn’t marked from this direction that we could see, but there is a restaurant on your right at this junction called Cactus Jack’s Saloon.)

Turn right onto Hwy. 73 and drive about .9 miles to Brook Forest Road. Turn right onto Brook Forest Rd. and drive about 3.6 miles to the trailhead at Lower Maxwell Falls, which is on your left. (As you make your right turn onto Brook Forest Rd., keep track of your mileage. Although there is a sign at the trailhead saying Lower Maxwell Falls, it’s hard to see it from the road while you’re driving at highway speeds.) At the trailhead, there is room for about 14-15 cars.

This is one of those Denver hiking trails that takes you through a forest for most of the hike. But it’s not completely shady either. There’s enough space between the trees to allow the sun in too. The trail starts out at a moderate incline and pretty much stays that way until you reach a section of the trail that is more open and even becomes flat for a short distance.

At that point, you’ll come to a 5-way trail split. To continue on to Maxwell Falls, you want to go straight on this Denver hiking trail. Now the trail heads downhill and after a while, you’ll cross a small creek on some well-placed rocks. At another point, you’ll cross Maxwell Creek on a bridge.

After that, you’ll be climbing again and you’ll soon reach an intersection where you want to turn left, (you’ll see the sign that points the way), and follow the trail along the creek. From that point, just keep going up until you reach the sign on your left that says Maxwell Falls. At the sign, you’ll be able to see the falls relatively far below you, but it’s harder to get a closer view of them.

This is one of the few Denver hiking trails I know of that goes to a waterfall, but unfortunately, it’s not easy to get close to it. The trail leads you to an area above the falls where it’s hard to see it except from the Maxwell Falls sign. If you want to go closer to the falls, there are some side trails to the creek below the falls but some are quite steep so do be careful.

I almost forgot to mention that after we left the trailhead for this Denver hiking trail, we were driving back along Brook Forest Rd. when we saw a group of about 4 or 5 elk on the side of the road. So do keep an eye out for them...you never know what you might see in the foothills near Denver. :-)

Devil's Head Lookout trail, Colorado

Devil’s Head Lookout Trail
One-way distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour to base area below the tower;
Restroom facilities: yes
Elevation: 9,748 feet at the lookout tower;
Dog friendly: yes, but must be leashed;
Entrance fee: no

Directions to Devil’s Head Lookout trailhead: from the Denver area, take U.S. Hwy. 85 south to Sedalia. Then turn west on Colorado Hwy. 67 and travel for about 10 miles to Rampart Range Road which is also Forest Road 300. Turn south onto Rampart Range Road and go about 8.5 miles to the Devil’s Head Campground and picnic area. The trail starts just beyond the picnic area.

This Denver hiking trail starts out at a moderate pace and pretty much stays that way most of the way to the top. The bottom portion of this trail has several stands of aspen trees, though not enough to make it onto my fall color hikes page. Still, they were pretty on this day in early October.

One interesting feature here that you don't find on many Denver hiking trails is the big rock formations that you’ll see near or from the trail. Some are next to the trail, and others are a little ways off in the distance, surrounded by pine trees. Either way, they add to the scenery. :-)

Most of this Denver hiking trail, (other than the bottom portion), goes through pine trees but they’re not thick. So even though the trail is partially shaded, it’s open enough for the sun to shine in along the way. Also, there are sections of trail where you can look out and see the scenery below you or in the distance. I heard chickadees along the trail too, so keep an eye out for them.

When you reach the half way point of this trail, there is actually a sign there telling you that you’ve reached the half way point. It’s nice to know when you’re half way there…and a bummer that most other Denver hiking trails don’t give you this information :-). In this case, I think it’s because the trail is very popular, although it was fairly quiet on the day we hiked it.

After the half way point, this Denver hiking trail continues on up through the trees until you reach a level area where you’ll see the ranger’s cabin on your left. And just beyond that, you’ll see the fire lookout tower perched on top of a big rock formation with steep stairs leading up to it. We didn’t go up into the tower, but we heard the views are great. :-)

Denver hiking trails within easy reach of the Denver area:

A portion of the Colorado Trail on Kenosha Pass

Kenosha Pass West/Colorado Trail
One-way distance: 2.9 miles
Difficulty level: easy to moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour and 40 minutes to creek;
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 10,000 feet at the trailhead;
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no

Directions to Kenosha Pass West/Colorado Trail: from the Denver area, take CO 470 east. Next, exit onto US 285 south, towards Fairplay. In Fairplay, continue on to the small town of Grant and shortly after that, you’ll start climbing Kenosha Pass. Drive to the summit of the pass where you’ll see a prominent sign telling you that the elevation is 10,000 feet. At that point, you will also see the parking area on both sides of the highway and you can park on either side. But if there’s room, it’s better to park on the right side of the highway since that’s where the trailhead is.

Although this hike isn’t located right around Denver, it’s only about an hour from the Denver area, and it’s the first of many such Denver hiking trails that I hope to eventually add to this page. Anyway, when you’re ready, look for the sign to the left of the campground that says: Colorado Trail; that’s where you want to go.

The trail starts out by taking you through an aspen forest and in a short time, you’ll come to a dirt road. Cross the road and follow trail #1776 on the other side. Shortly after this, you’ll be hiking through a pine forest, but most of all, this hike will take you through aspen forests. So of course, it would be excellent if you were looking for Denver hiking trails that feature fall color.

Not many Denver hiking trails have benches, but this one has one. And it’s situated in a spot where you have a nice view of the mountains. Enjoy the view, then continue along the trail which starts going down gently at this point. Eventually, you’ll come to another dirt road. Cross this road and follow the trail on the other side. Before long, you’ll reach a small creek with a sturdy log across it and this is your turn-around point. Have fun. :-)

Loch Lomond, Colorado

Loch Lomond
One-way distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty level: moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes;
Restroom facilities: no
Elevation: 11,200 feet at the lake;
Dog friendly: yes
Entrance fee: no

Directions to Loch Lomond trailhead: from the Denver area, go west on I-70. Next, take exit 238 north on Fall River Road/County Road 275. Go about 8.5 miles, then turn left onto Alice Road. Continue for about 0.9 miles, then turn right at the sign that says Stewart Road, and Loch Lomond. From here, drive the short distance to the tiny parking area which can only be described as a “wide spot” in the road. It’s on both sides of the road and each side probably only holds 2-3 cars at best.

One thing you need to know about getting to this trailhead is that you need a higher clearance vehicle. Most Denver hiking trails won’t have this requirement but this one does; the reason is this: at the point where you turn right at the sign that says Stewart Rd. and Loch Lomond, the road becomes very rocky and I don’t think a regular car could make it.

Anyway, the whole trail to Loch Lomond follows a rocky 4-wheel drive road. The first half, (or so), of the trail is the steepest, and after that, it becomes a little easier and less steep. You’ll be hiking through a thick forest too, so you won’t see much of the mountain scenery around you until about the second half of the trail.

As I just mentioned, the trail starts to open up when you’re about half-way along this hike. Then you’ll start seeing the mountains all around you. The next thing you’ll come to on this Denver hiking trail is a water crossing. (No bridge.) In early September, it was fairly easy to get across the water, but it might be a little trickier earlier in the season.

Shortly after the water crossing, the trail opens up even more and you’ll be hiking through a large meadow-like area. Keep working your way up this Denver hiking trail and soon, you’ll see something in front of you that looks like a large bowl. Continue going up and when you see the path on your right, follow it to Loch Lomond.

As I get to them, I'll be adding more Denver hiking trails to this page. In the meantime, I hope you like the ones I have here. And bring your camera if you like wildflowers. :-)

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