With an impressive amount of money funneling in to fuel arts and culture into Trinidad, this southern Colorado city is starting to get a lot of attention. In addition to the music, art, and food you’ll find in this eccentric community, it also happens to be a haven for hikers.
Surrounded by phenomenal natural offerings, Trinidad is a great place to set up shop if you love hiking. On this list, you’ll find everything from grueling mountain routes to gorgeous nature hikes that are welcoming to hikers of every age and experience level. Several of the hiker trails are located closer to La Veta and Walsenburg, which are all connected via the Highway of Legends, a national scenic byway.
Spanish Peaks Wilderness
Shaped by two majestic peaks that tower over the surrounding plains, the Spanish Peaks Wilderness is a stunning area located just over an hour north of Trinidad. Though it’s relatively close, the dramatic landscape it offers might as well be on a different planet than Trinidad. Featuring three incredible hikes, the Spanish Peaks Wilderness offers two 13,000-foot peaks that are much tougher to climb than one might assume.
Though it’s far from the tallest mountains in the state, reviews of West Spanish Peak Trail describe an intensely challenging and somewhat dangerous climb with long stretches of scrambling and many hikers reporting that they weren’t able to make it to the top. All this is to say don’t underestimate these mountains. If you want to hike here without any challenges or dangers, try out the mile and a half Cordova Pass Trail. It offers easy hiking and incredible views of the area.
Located in the Spring Creek Day Use Area a little over an hour northwest of Trinidad, the high-elevation Dodgeton Trail boasts stellar mountain views and lush forests to explore. At four and a half miles long, this trail climbs over 1,000 feet and is considered to be moderately tough for causal hikers. If you’ve tackled the Cordova Pass Trail and need more of a challenge, this nearby trail is a good way to go.
Climax Canyon Nature Trail
This easy two and a half-mile trail is located 30 minutes south of Trinidad. Reviews describe this trail as being clean, well maintained, and offering excellent views of the sage-laden canyon lands. This isn’t a great spot for challenging hiking, but it’s great for families and inexperienced hikers looking for easy access to nature and wildlife.
A moderately challenging six-mile hike, the Dike Trail is located an hour and fifteen minutes northwest of town. It treks through charming forests, serene open meadows, and rocky outcrops that open up to soaring mountain views. Though it requires a little extra time in the car, after a couple of minutes on this trail you’ll quickly realize your efforts were worth it.
Sugarite Canyon State Park
Located just 30 minutes south of Trinidad, Sugarite Canyon State Park offers 11 excellent trails that explore a unique high desert setting. Unlike much of the terrain in this area, this canyon is lush with grasses, wildflowers, and shrubbery. If you’re looking for intensely challenging hikes, this spot isn’t for you.
While the hikes here range from easy to moderate and are typically short, they’re each hugely scenic and rewarding. Between how close it is to Trinidad and the unique scenery it has to offer, Sugarite Canyon State Park is a can’t-miss local hiking destination.
Spanish Peaks Wildlife Area
This rugged and serene area is said to have established trails that are ideal for birdwatching. Situated 40 minutes north of town, it’s a place known for Pinyon and Steller’s Jays, Spotted Towhees, Bushtits, Mountain and Western Bluebirds, Lesser Goldfinches, and many other beautiful birds. But even if birding isn’t your thing, you’ll still want to visit if you prefer your hiking experiences to be set in the quiet majesty of nature. Compared to most outdoor destinations on the Front Range, the Spanish Peaks Wildlife Area is uncrowded and easy to access.
North Lake State Wildlife Area
Located an hour west of Trinidad, the North Lake State Wildlife Area offers numerous trails that are perfect for exploring the surrounding wilderness. It’s a serene spot with less tree coverage compared to the surrounding landscapes, which provides the benefit of uninhibited mountain views. If you’re looking for a comprehensive nature experience, this area offers camping and fishing as well.
Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area
This vast wildlife area is located 45 minutes west of town. While you’re not likely to find amenities here like public bathrooms and well-maintained trails, there are loosely established paths that explore vast, unspoiled wilderness areas that most hikers never bother to see. You’ll have the chance to view elk, bear, and all manner of bird here, and dispersed camping is permitted if you want to extend your excursion overnight.
Picketwire Canyon Trail
This trail is more than an hour and a half northeast of Trinidad, but here’s why you should consider hiking it. First off, it’s almost 17 miles long, which is considerably lengthier than most of the trails in the area. Second, this hike is located in the Eastern Plains that offers a truly fascinating landscape and cultural legacy.
It features well-preserved dinosaur tracks, old settlement ruins, a historic cemetery, and vivid wildflowers and even a tarantula or two depending on when you visit. The terrain is also bucolic and serene, and a welcome change from mountain hikes if you’ve grown tired of them.
Levsa & Reilly Canyons Trail
Eight and a half miles long, the Levsa & Reilly Canyons Trail is packed with pinon and juniper trees and offers great views of Trinidad Lake and the surrounding canyons. You’ll also experience some stellar Rocky Mountain vistas here and fall foliage if you visit in late September or early October. This spot is located just 15 minutes from town and an entrance fee is required.
Those are among our favorite places to hike nearby Trinidad, Colorado.