The 10 Best Hikes In Colorado

The first thing to come to mind when most people think of Colorado? Outdoor adventures.

By: Mike Fennell

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You can be sure that the hikes of this majestic state are some of the best in the world. Climb grand mountain peaks, meander through fields of beautiful wildflowers, walk amongst wonderful wildlife, or just hang out at a gorgeous alpine lake. Colorado hikes have it all and they never disappoint. From the San Juans to the Rocky Mountain National Park, just about anything and everything west of Denver should be explored. Whether you're looking for an expert level backpacking trip, or a simple two-hour hike, there are very few areas in North America that will come close to what Colorado has to offer.

1. Four Pass Loop

Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Starting off with the best and biggest hike on this list. Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells Wilderness will be an adventure that will never float far from your lifetime memories. As the name implies, you'll trek over four mountain passes during this four-day hike while exploring beautiful alpine lakes, magnificent fields of wildflowers, and amazing waterfalls. With over 8,000 feet of elevation gain, this hike is not to be taken lightly so be sure to come prepared, but with great views of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Colorado, every step will be well worth it. Learn more.

2. La Plata Peak

Photo: Mike Fennell

One of the most aesthetically pleasing peaks of the Rockies, this Class 2 climb up La Plata will provide you with beautiful scenery the entire way up. Located right in the middle of a long range of 14ers, the view from the peak will be unforgettable! Make sure to bring your camera, but also a swimsuit to cool off at the idyllic Twin Lakes at the bottom. Learn more.

3. Longs Peak

Photo: Jeff Richards

Complete a classic Colorado climb with this advanced hike to the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park. With a 14.5 mile round trip and over 5,000 ft elevation gain, this peak will challenge you in every way possible, but the end reward will be absolutely priceless. The last thing you'll want to forget on this adventure besides water, is your camera. Learn more.

4. Blue Lakes Trail

Photo: Greg Owens

Explore the beauty of the San Juan Mountain Range on this epic hike. The range is full of craggy peaks, lush wildflowers, and gorgeous alpine lakes, and in mid-summer, you'll find them all on this hike to the three Blue Lakes. An 8.6 mile out-and-back trail, this gem can be done in a short day but it's highly recommended to spend some extra quality time at those gorgeous lakes. Learn more.

5. Lost Man Loop

Photo: Mike Fennell

An 8.8 mile point-to-point trail by Independence Pass at the Continental Divide, this amazing journey will provide three unbelievable alpine lakes, majestic peaks, and some neat wildlife. High in elevation, but low elevation gain, this trail is perfect for someone that can hike a far distance but is just beginning to tackle trails above the tree line. Learn more.

6. Caribou Lake

Photo: Alison Peck

The perfect summer day hike to explore Colorado in all her beauty, this 8 mile trip will prove to be a favorite with all the amazing views it has to offer. A good option for those living in the greater Denver area, and an even better option for the avid fisherman, there is no reason to skip out of this intermediate level adventure. Learn more.

7. Mount Elbert Peak

Photo: Kyle Frost

Want to say you've climbed the highest peak in Colorado (or the 2nd highest peak in the lower 48 for that matter)? Here is your chance, and an easy chance at that. Considering that there are school field trips to the top of this mountain, this peak can be reached by anyone that is in good physical condition. But there's nothing simple about the views. It's quite the surreal feeling being on top, and there is a good chance that you may just be the highest person in all of North America during your time on the peak! Learn more.

8. Mount Sniktau

Photo: Ryan Mckinney

A perfect 13er for beginners, this beautiful ridge hike near Loveland Pass offers amazing panoramic views of mountains for miles. An easy 4 mile out-an-back hike with simple trailhead accessibility, this peak can easily be done in a day trip from Denver. Learn more.

9. Butler Gulch

Photo: Amy Kesic

Another easily accessible trailhead from Denver, this scenic 5 mile hike will provide views of gorgeous alpine lakes and a wildflower heaven. The 1,500 ft elevation gain in the Arapaho National Forest can be done during any season, but is a wonderful day hike for beginners in the summer. Learn more.

10. Crater Lake

Photo: Eric Schuette

It may be the easiest one on this list, but it's definitely my all-time favorite short hike. With the trailhead beginning at Maroon Lake viewing the iconic Maroon Bells, the hike only provides you with more break taking views all along the way to the much less visited but equally magnificent Crater Lake. Enjoy a simple day of hiking in the most beautiful areas in Colorado then go have a drink in the great town of Aspen! Learn more.

Cover photo: Mike Fennell

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.