Hiking is a year round activity in the Rockies, and there’s a perfect hike for adventurers of every skill level. According to one study, even Colorado’s most difficult hikes - our 58 peaks over 14,000 feet - have been experiencing a 7% increase each year, with “an estimated 334,000 people” hiking them in 2017. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely Sunday morning hike with friends, or looking to join that 334,000 on a 14er climb, here are 5 of our favorite hikes across the Rockies.
Chautauqua Park in Boulder (just a 40 minute drive from Denver) features several different hikes near Boulder’s famous Flatirons of varying lengths and difficulties. One of our favorites is the hike to Royal Arch, an out-and-back trail that’s about 3.5 miles in total and usually takes about 2-3 hours to complete at a pretty leisurely pace. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery from the arch - you’ll have a perfect view of Boulder, and on clear days you’ll be able to see all the way to Denver.
Chief Hosa Loop
The Chief Hosa Loop hike is another day trip easily accessible hike from Denver, just outside of Evergreen on I-70. This is a favorite post-brunch, pre-nap hike, that usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Escape the city on this quick (and dog-friendly) hike, or extend it slightly by checking out the side trail labeled “Patrick House Bison Area” that leads towards the east - if you’re lucky you’ll see the local bison herd hanging out near the fence. After your hike, cruise into downtown Evergreen for great food, local beer, or some continued adventuring at Evergreen Lake.
Just outside of Breckenridge you’ll find the Mohawk Lakes and a great hike between the lower and upper lakes. About 6.8 miles roundtrip when starting at Lower Mohawk Lake, this trail features mountain streams, sections through pine and aspen forests, waterfalls, and - as one of its most unique features - the remnants of an old mining operation, complete with entrances to mines and old equipment. A hike to the upper lake will take you up past the treeline, so (carefully!) enjoy the beautiful alpine tundra and views of the Tenmile Range. Plan for about 4 hours of hike time with plenty of water and snacks, and a stop at a brewery once you head back into town.
Yule Pass Trail
Outside of Crested Butte you’ll find the Yule Pass Trail. Our favorite part about this trail is the fact that it is entirely above the treeline, meaning you have incredible 360° views for your whole hike. An out and back hike that’s about 5 miles round trip, make sure you bring your sunscreen as you hike the saddle between Purple and Treasure mountains. If you work up an appetite during your hike, head back down into Crested Butte and grab pizza at The Secret Stash or head to Montanya Distillery to try some of their Colorado Rum.
Mt. Elbert 14er
Colorado’s highest peak, this popular 14er is great for hiking enthusiasts of all levels of experience, as long as you come prepared! Though approximately 9 miles in length round trip and with an elevation gain of 4700 feet, the trail to the summit of Mt. Elbert is relatively easy and one of the safest of the Rocky Mountain 14ers. Once you reach the top you’ll have incredible unobstructed views from the highest point in the Colorado Rockies - 14,440 feet! To the north you’ll see Mt. Massive, the second highest Colorado peak, to the south, La Plata Peak, and from every other direction spectacular views. Like all 14ers, bring plenty of water, and plan to be heading back down by noon to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
The top of Mt. Elbert via Hiking Project
With so many options you’re sure to find a hike to fit your mood. So whether you’re looking for a major adventure or an activity to fit with your weekend warrior lifestyle, there’s a classic Rocky Mountain hike for you.