Are you looking for a great hiking experience close to Denver? Look no further than our top five favorite hikes in the area. These hikes offer stunning views, challenging terrain, and a chance to get up close and personal with the beauty of the Colorado foothills. From Staunton State Park to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, these hikes offer a variety of landscapes and experiences. So grab your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to hit the trails.
Mason Creek Trail to Old Mill Trail and Staunton State Park
Drive time from Denver: about 45 minutes
Hiking distance: 11.9 miles with 1900 feet of total elevation gain
Fee: at the time of this recording, it was nine dollars. Check the Colorado State Park website for updates on fees.
Number five on our list of hikes close to Denver is the Mason Creek Trail to Old Mill Trail and Staunton State Park. This hike is perfect for those who want to experience great hiking without getting deep into the mountains and enjoying the foothills of Colorado. The first part of the trail is wide open and about a mile, you’re going to go along Mason Creek which is very peaceful. The views of the creek and surrounding trees are amazing. There are some benches where you can sit down and take in all that nature has to offer.
Once you get about two miles up Mason Creek, you’ve got the option to turn off to the Bearpaw Trail where you can see three scenic overlooks. These overlooks are Catamount Pike’s Peak and Eagle Cliffs Overlook. We highly recommend hitting up these overlooks if you’re hiking the Mason Creek Trail. Although the Mason Creek Trail is amazing, Staunton State Park in general is just amazing. We highly recommend picking up a map and exploring everything that this state park has to offer.
Chavez and Beaver Brook Loop
Location: Genesee Park, Golden, Colorado
Drive time from Denver: about 30 minutes
Hiking distance: 6.3 miles loop with 1138 feet of total elevation gain
Fee: Currently, there is no fee to hike this trail or park at the trailhead.
Number four on our list is the Chavez and Beaver Brook Loop located in Genesee Park, Golden, Colorado. In our opinion, this loop is best hiked in the spring. Whether you start counterclockwise or clockwise doesn’t really matter. We’ve done it both ways, and if you are a fan of streams and small cascades, this hike is definitely for you. You’ll hike along the brook or the creek for a little over a mile. The mile hike alongside the stream is one of a kind. There’s not many places in Colorado that have a paved, maintained trail almost the entire hike of the river. There’s one part where you gotta do a little scrambling to hike up a rock where you could lose trail, but overall it’s not that bad. Bring a map, make sure you’re going the right direction, you can get lost in this trail. We’ve had friends that have done it before. As long as you pay attention to which way you’re going, this trail, this loop is just amazing. If you haven’t hiked this before and looking for a great hike near Denver, just do it. There’s a reason this is the most reviewed hike on Alltrails.com out of the entire state of Colorado.
Green Mountain Loop, Boulder Open Space
Drive time from Denver: about 35 minutes
Hiking distance: six miles, 2,500 feet of total elevation gain
Fee: There’s no fee to hike here unless you park at Chautauqua Park.
Number three on our list is the Green Mountain Loop in Boulder Open Space. This hike offers a little bit of everything, from tons of wildflowers in the summer to a couple of streams to walking through a forest to walking over rocks with wide-open views of Boulder. You can hike to the summit of Green Mountain starting from a bunch of different spots. We parked alongside Flagstaff Road and started our hike there. There is a well-maintained trail that will guide you all the way to the summit of Green Mountain. But we would definitely recommend looking at a map and at least planning your route out beforehand, as there are several ways that you can hike up the Green Mountain.
As with most hikes in Boulder, this one is extremely popular. So, get to the trailhead early if you want to attempt to beat the crowd. Overall, a very pretty hike with a very unique summit that you’ll be sharing with several close friends. Definitely get out there and try this hike. It’s an amazing one close to Denver.
Mountain Lion and Windy Peak Trail Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Drive time from Denver: a little less than 45 minutes. Check the Colorado State Park website for updated fees.
Hiking distance: 6.8 miles with about 1700 feet of total elevation gain
Number two on our list of top five favorite hikes close to Denver is the Mountain Lion and Windy Peak Trail Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. You can customize this loop and make it longer if you want. We did it clockwise. Similar to the others on this list, there’s a lot of different scenery, and it’s a loop hike. There’s a pretty cool lake next to an old branch at the beginning of this loop. We love going through old ranches and log cabins. It always makes the mind wander. Steep gains right after the ranch. We love hiking up steep switchbacks. It’s kind of crazy, but we do enjoy it.
And a quick break off to the Windy Peak Summit, which has pretty amazing views of the Continental Divide. To complete this loop, we returned via the Burrow Trail to change up the scenery. It goes through a pretty dense forest and also opens up to some cliffs with some steep drop-offs. As with most hikes close to Denver and the foothills, this one can be done year-round.
Mount Morrison from the Red Rocks Entrance Number Four and Matthew Winters Open Space Park
Drive time from Denver: about 30 minutes
Hiking stats: a little under four miles round trip with about 2000 feet of total elevation gain
No fee to park at the Red Rocks entrance.
Last but not least, our number one top favorite hike close to Denver is Mount Morrison from the Red Rocks Entrance Number Four and Matthew Winters Open Space Park. This is our favorite hike close to Denver because it’s an excellent training hike for higher peaks. Just two miles up to the summit, you’re gaining 2,000 feet of elevation. That’s some comparable numbers right where you make the push on some 14ers to the summit.
While the elevation isn’t as high, you’re still going to feel the elevation gain. The start of this trail is steep. It starts off steep, and you’re going to be burning calves right away. After that, the trail does smooth out just for a little bit before going up the next steep section. The views are pretty cool. You get awesome views of Red Rocks Amphitheater at the beginning of the trail. But honestly, we don’t do this hike for the views. We do it because it’s just a fun hike.
The second part of the hike, when you see the ridge going up to Mount Morrison, that’s where things get interesting, and we like it a lot. There’s one section where you have to do a little bit of class 2 scrambling, maybe a couple of handholds only for about 30 feet or so. Every time someone asks us the best way to train for 13ers or 14ers or to hike higher mountains, we would say start with this one. It’s a difficult hike, it’s not going to be the same as hiking a 14er, but it’s a great stepping stone.
We’ve done this hike about 10 times, planning on doing it many more times. It’s where we do all our gear reviews. It’s where we test out gear, and overall, it’s a very short drive from our home, and it’s a great workout.
In conclusion, these are our top five favorite hikes close to Denver. We made this list of hikes for those that want to experience great hikes without getting deep into the mountains and enjoying the foothills of Colorado. All of these hikes are less than 45 minutes away from Coors Field downtown Denver.
At number five on our list, we have the Mason Creek Trail to Old Mill Trail and Staunton State Park. At number four, we have the Chavez and Beaver Brook Loop located in Genesee Park, Golden, Colorado. At number three, we have the Green Mountain Loop in Boulder Open Space. At number two, we have the Mountain Lion and Windy Peak Trail Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. And finally, at number one, we have Mount Morrison from the Red Rocks Entrance Number Four and Matthew Winters Open Space Park.
We hope you enjoy our list of the top five favorite hikes close to Denver. These hikes offer a variety of scenery, elevation gain, and difficulty levels. They are all worth checking out, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting. Remember to always be prepared when hiking, bring plenty of water and snacks, and leave no trace. Happy hiking!