Snowshoeing is a great way to explore Colorado’s wilderness each winter. You’ll really connect with nature on a snowshoe trek. Luckily, the Rocky Mountains are full of free trails to access such amazing sights.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors during the winter, but they’re not always affordable or accessible. You can find a good pair of brand new snowshoes (affiliate link) for about $100, or peruse the local Craigslist ads for something that costs even less. Add to that your trusty hiking boots and a pair of poles, and you’re ready to go.
Top Snowshoeing Trails in Colorado
What better way to warm up and burn over 400 calories an hour than to strap on a pair of snowshoes and head for the hills? With so much wilderness at our fingertips, Colorado is the perfect place to sightsee like nowhere else in the world.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Why not kick this list off right with Colorado’s crown jewel: Rocky Mountain National Park. With over 350 miles of trails that are perfectly suited for a day on snowshoes, there is bound to be a trail that fits everyone’s needs. Out-of-towners will be wowed by the beauty, and locals can remind themselves why they live here.
2. Vail Pass
At the very top of Vail Pass is an often-overlooked recreation area, normally filled with trailers full of snowmobiles. What you might not know, however, is that there are some really great trails designated solely for those who prefer to get around on two feet. At the very end, you’ll see some huts that are part of the 10th Mountain Division system, a perfect place to spend the weekend if you’re feeling ambitious.
3. Heil Valley Ranch
Located just outside of Boulder, Heil Valley Ranch offers a range of trails easy and moderate trails to get your blood pumping. Hiking to the top of the trails offers unparalleled views and a true sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, Heil Ranch does not allow dogs, so make sure Fido sits this one out.
4. Betasso Preserve
The Betasso Preserve is a popular spot for mountain biking, this trail system near Boulder is also a great place to snowshoe in the winter. If you’re concerned about running into people on two wheels, shoot for a Wednesday or a Saturday, when bikes are prohibited. Due to its aforementioned popularity, make sure you review trail etiquette rules before setting off.
5. St. Mary’s Glacier
You can still see echoes of St. Mary’s old life as a ski resort on this steep, but short, hike. A permanent, year-round glacier, it’s the perfect spot to get a view of St. Mary’s Lake and, if you’re keen on a little more hiking, you can get to some pretty stunning views of the entire Front Range. For those feeling extra adventurous, pack up your skis or snowboard and make a quick descent.
6. The Colorado Trail
Stretching all the way from Denver to Durango, The Colorado Trail is accessible to almost anyone who wants to hike it. Choose a small section for a short trip or go all out and plan a long winter trek. There are stopping points along the entire trail where you can warm up and enjoy a libation or two before heading back out.
7. Rabbit Ears Pass
If you’re looking to up the ante on your snowshoe game, head to Rabbit Ears Pass, located just outside of Steamboat. This area offers some of the most epic views Routt County has to offer. Keep in mind that the trails are not for the timid or weak; they’ll work your legs and lungs hard, but the effort is worth the reward.
8. Monarch Lake
Get out of the city and enjoy a family-friendly hike around Monarch Lake. Located near Granby, this trail takes you on a loop around the scenic mountain lake and has enough to do and see that you can keep the kiddos entertained. And if you can get them to walk the whole way, you can guarantee a good night’s sleep.
9. Seven Bridges Trail
An easy drive from downtown Colorado Springs, the Seven Bridges Trail starts out on an old railroad track that was used to carry ore down from the mountains. You’ll actually cross all seven bridges, and end your one-way trip in Jones Park. This will take a few hours, so plan on an all-day excursion if you’re going to go out and back.
10. Rampart Reservoir
Another good option for families or first-timers, Rampart Reservoir is a large open space in the Pikes Peak region. Because of its lack of elevation gain, it’s a great spot to teach someone how to snowshoe or to take a group that includes both snowshoers and cross country skiers.
These are some of our favorite spots to do some winter hiking. Remember to pack your snowshoes for these Rocky Mountain treks.