3 Hikes Near Denver That Are Worth Your Time

3 Hikes Near Denver That Are Worth Your Time

Written and all Photography By: Mark Munson (@markonthemove)

Taking a road trip a few hours outside of Denver always has its perks. Mountain views, less crowds, and less traffic are just some of the luxuries that being out of the city offers. But for when you can't make that long drive out of the front range, there are still plenty of places to sight see and hike that are worth your time. There is something refreshing about staying close to home and exploring new spots, or the spots you've already visited a little more in depth. If you are looking for some weekend plans or even a day hike on a week day, these hikes offer great views and aren't too difficult. 

Sunset at Red Rocks Park
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
Some people think of Red Rocks only as a music venue, but there are a lot of good hiking trails that provide scenic views of Denver and prime sunrise or sunset viewing spots. There are a few different trails inside the park you can hike, which wind through the grassy meadows and past the red monoliths that give the park its name. Some of the trails connect to the park just to the north called Matthews/Winter Park so be sure to follow trail signs if you are wanting to stay primarily in the Red Rocks park. 

All the trails throughout the park are perfect for any level hiker. They ascend just enough to get your heart rate up and get you to break a sweat making for a great workout! The views of the rocks vary throughout the park but there are enough trails to find any view you are looking for. The trails allow for mountain bike and horseback access so keep that in mind while hiking. The rangers in the park aren't to fond of people going off trail so if bushwhacking is your forte, do it at your own risk! 

Below are all the accessible trailheads in Red Rocks Park:

1. Red Rocks Trading Post Trail
Trail Length
: 1.5 Miles
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Gain: 354 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dog Friendly: Yes

Click here for directions to Red Rocks Trading Post Trailhead

2. Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails
Trail Length
: 3.2 Miles
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Gain: 659 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Dog Friendly: Yes
St Mary's Glacier
St. Mary's Glacier
The reason St. Mary's Glacier has gained much more popularity in recent years is because it is close to Denver (about a 45 minute drive), and offers amazing views for how close it is to the city. It's a quick escape from the commotion of the city life and for the most part, is accessible year round. This short and sweet hike provides access to a small lake surrounded by rocky cliffs and a glacier that exists year round. In the winter, the lake is completely frozen throughout and those with micro spikes can venture out onto the ice. After a fresh snowfall the trail can be difficult to navigate without snow shoes, but besides that it is usually fine. The hike up is a short but steady incline until you reach the lake, only about .75 miles. Once to the top you are rewarded with alpine views and a great spot to relax. The lakeside trees provide great scenic hammocking spots to catch a tan and enjoy the mountains. If you are visiting in summer, make sure bring something to swim in so you can cliff jump. Adventure enthusiasts usually jump from the higher cliff which sits 50-60 feet above the water, or if that's too big for your liking there is a smaller, 20 foot cliff to jump off of. Cliff jump at your own risk because the level of the water fluctuates throughout the season depending on runoff.

If you wish to extend your hike, once you reach the lake you can follow the trail around the right side of the lake and make your way up the glacier. During the summer a waterfall is formed from the glacier which adds an additional element to this already amazing hike. If you want to snowboard or ski in the summer, this is a great place to come. Hike up the glacier with your gear and send it down! 

St. Mary's Glacier
Trail Length
: 1.4 Miles
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Dog Friendly: Yes

Click here for directions to St. Mary's Glacier
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs has a lot of interesting spots to visit and this one is probably the most iconic. 300' massive sandstone rock formations and a rolling valley of mountains with snow tipped peaks against a blue sky are only some of the views you'll find at Garden of the Gods. Over a million years ago the shifting of tectonic plates beneath Earth's surface pushed these once horizontal deposits vertical. There are over 15 miles of hiking trails throughout Garden of the Gods, so you can view the formations from afar or up close and personal. The southernmost rock provides spectacular views of Pikes Peak and the foreground valley, as well as a prime spot for sunset viewing. The majority of the trails around the park are very easy and some are even paved making it easily accessible for anybody. Walking through the rocks it almost feels like a National Park because of the humungous scale and history of these formations. If you are visiting Colorado Springs, put this on your list of places to see!

Click here for directions to Garden of the Gods
Like what you read? Be sure to subscribe and follow along all the adventures. 

Leave a comment