[Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Jerry and Pat Donaho] From peaceful nature trails on the front range to stunning alpine loops in the high country, Colorado is loaded with easy going hiking trails in every part of the state. It’s also tracked with just as many moderate and difficult trails. Beginners looking for simpler trails have such a wide variety of hikes to choose from, it can be almost daunting.
Whether you’re a newbie or an avid backpacker, here are some of the most interesting trails that don’t have much elevation gain and are only a few miles. If you’ll be in the Mile High area consider these best Denver hikes under 3 miles.
Of all US states, Colorado offers a particularly interesting mixture of geographic elements. It’s a captivating patch of Americana to hike through. With spectacular landscapes that provide an immensely rewarding experience, you’ll be astonished with every step. It can be a peaceful adventure, something akin to a pilgrimage and an introspective journey.
What To Pack for Your Hike
Naturally, what you take depends on where you’re going and for how long you could be gone. Sunglasses and hats come in particularly handy and don’t forget to pack a sunscreen lotion for the journey. It should be a part of your first aid kit, which also includes pain-killers, antihistamines, mosquito spray, disinfectants, bandages, gauze, and sterile dressing pads. These are only the basics, of course.
The first aid kit is only one aspect of your ‘safety net’ that should be prioritized over needless clothing and accessories for the hiking trip. A working compass, reliable lighter, knife, at least two light sources, a detailed map of the Colorado region or park you’re visiting, along with extra food and water – these are other crucial aspects of that safety net.
If you don’t know what to pack for a backpacking trip without dragging half of your household along, just start with the basics and take it from there. Take at least a comfortable shirt and shorts (or better pants at altitude), hiking shoes, couple pair of wicking socks and underpants.
If backpacking overnight there are additional considerations to take, like shelter. Apart from a backpacking tent with a comfy sleeping bag, your gear assembly should include a portable stove and at least some basic utensils. For example, a spork can go a long way, even though it gets a bad rap.
Where to find the Best Beginner Hiking Trails in Colorado
Luckily as a beginner, you don’t need to go far or high to find a simple hiking trail, even if you’re looking for an overnight backpacking hike. There are easy treks in your own backyard. From city parks in nearly every notable town, to larger state and national parks, as well as millions of acres of federal land in the backcountry, Colorado is one hiker friendly state.
There are a myriad of public parks and open spaces available year round for the public’s enjoyment. Because everybody wants to spend their time hiking something truly amazing, we’ve assembled just a few of the finer gems. Keep in mind there are countless beginner hikes available in all parts of the Centennial State.
Fountain Valley Trail in Roxborough Park, CO
Located around 45 minutes from Denver by car, Roxborough State Park’s topography is truly a sight to behold. The Fountain Valley Trail that cuts through the park is not particularly long, but it is well worth the trip. Due to its short length, it can be an opportune experience for families with children.
Gigantic slabs of orange rock protrude out of the slopes like the scales on the back of some chthonic dragon. The way they contrast with eucalypts blue haze of the skies and distant ranges is truly a breathtaking natural composition. It will make you feel as if you are transported to an enchanted realm akin to the one from the Middle Earth films.
Length: 2.3 miles
Maroon Bells in Aspen
You’ll have to delve deeper into the Colorado Rockies to reach the iconic Maroon Bells mountain peaks. Located only a few miles from downtown Aspen, Maroon Bells Scenic Area is an picturesque hiking experience that you should take up simply due to the iconic beauty. The surrounding nature and chance to visit the Roaring Fork Valley add to the reason to visit.
From summer through fall you can access the lush landscapes in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. You can expect cascades, aspens, and lakes on the assembly of trails, which vary in length depending on your preferences. Three campsites are available at the start, perfect for both RVs and tent camping.
Length: 1 mile to 13 miles
Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop
It’s worth noting that because of the length this is rated a moderate hike, though it’s fine for beginners in shape. Rocky Mountain National Park boasts over 200 wonderful trails, so if you’d be forced to pick one out of the bunch, you should embark on Four Lakes and Waterfall Loop hike.
It’s not a challenging trail by any stretch of the imagination, but be prepared for a quality leg exercise as you gawk at the titular four lakes and their diverse appearance. Waterfalls, set against fir trees and rugged rocky peaks that cut across the sky, is the showcase here. You’ll finally get a chance to witness why Alberta Falls are so widely lauded by the people that visited the park before.
Length: 6.4 miles
The backcountry is positively brimming with diverse topographical features and legendary sites that are world renowned. As long as you (and your group) are well-prepared, this should be one of the most enjoyable escapades of your lifetime. If you are a newcomer to Colorado, hardly any track will disappoint you.