Denver hiking excursions often involve heading to the nearby Rocky Mountains, and for good reason. There are literally miles and miles of excellent trails in the Rockies, and they wind their way through some of the country's most scenic terrain. The Denver Mountain Parks system includes more than twenty parks that are tailored hiking enthusiasts, and these parks include the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park and the mesmerizing Red Rocks Park. For those who are looking to go hiking near Denver, there are also some good Front Range parks to choose from. These parks include Cherry Creek State Park, which is found between the Front Range cities of Aurora and Centennial. There aren't a lot of Denver hiking trails in the immediate downtown area, but it doesn't take long to get some world-class hiking destinations.
Cherry Creek State Park offers some of the best Denver hiking trails, at least on the Front Range side of things. There are about twelve miles of trails at the park, and they cross over rolling terrain that is relatively easy to manage. Cottonwood trees can be found along the Cherry Creek State Park trails, and hikers can also admire marshes and grasslands. In addition to hiking, visitors to Cherry Creek State Park can also use the trails for biking and horseback riding.
On the other side of the Mile High City, Bear Creek Lake State Park also presents some tantalizing options for those who want to do some Denver hiking. The trails at this park are similar to the trails at Cherry Creek, as they pass through various Front Range habitats, including groves of cottonwood trees. Many of the Bear Creek Lake trails circle the large reservoir or follow along the park's picturesque creek.
While these Front Range parks can be excellent places to enjoy some hiking near Denver, those who want to do some more serious hiking will venture into the highlands. Not far from Denver, the Colorado Trail begins. This long trail passes through no less than eight mountain ranges and has a peak elevation of 13,334 feet above sea level. Found along the route are six wilderness areas, seven national forests, and a healthy array of picturesque lakes and creeks to admire. Most of the Colorado Trail is above 10,000 feet, and in some spots it dips below the timberline, providing hikers with spots to seek shelter from inclement weather. It is possible to hike the entire Colorado Trail, with the ending point being found near Durango, and it is also possible to access the trail at various points and enjoy shorter hikes.
When looking for good places to go hiking near Denver, Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one of the more attractive options. Golden Gate Canyon State Park can be found just 30 miles west of the Mile High City, and it is even closer to Golden, where the Coors Brewery figures among the top attractions. This attractive park covers more than 10,000 acres, and since the elevation ranges from 7,400 feet to around 10,500 feet, the hiking trails can get pretty challenging. As is true of many Denver area parks, Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a great place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, such as hiking and fishing. It is also a great place to go camping, thanks to its developed and backcountry campsites.
Two of the most popular Denver hiking side trip destinations are Rocky Mountain National Park and Red Rocks Park. In fact, these destinations are among the most popular hiking destinations in all of Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park offers some of the most majestic alpine panoramas in the country, and it's not uncommon for visitors to spot all kinds of animals on a hike, including elk and eagles. Over at Red Rocks, which is found near Colorado Springs, the terrain is akin to what you might expect in the Sedona area of Arizona. Amazing rock formations dominate the Red Rocks terrain, and since this terrain is relatively rugged, proper hiking footwear is essentially a necessity. Also worth noting at Red Rocks Park is the naturally-formed amphitheater. This amphitheater is one of the most renowned concert venues in the world!
These are just some of the options when it comes to enjoying unforgettable Denver hikes, and there are plenty of other excellent destinations to consider. For those who need want to get some detailed info on the Denver hiking trails options, the city's Department of Parks and Recreation can provide tips. It can also be a good idea to contact one of the state or national level organizations, such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife or the U.S. Forest Service, especially if you are looking to hike in the Rockies.