Many excellent trails are no more than a quick drive away from Denver to get your family outside. If your family is up for a longer drive and higher altitudes, you may experience some of the most colorful scenery Colorado has to offer.
What to bring on a family hike
To begin, consider bringing these essential items along:
- Sunscreen: Apply it 20 minutes before sun exposure to obtain the most protection.
- Clothing layers: This could include jackets, raincoats, long pants and other clothing items that help with Colorado’s infamous and quickly changing weather.
- Snacks/lunch: It is always a good idea to pack snacks or a lunch for longer hikes. Picnics are always fun, too.
- Water: Bring a lot of water. You can never have too much water, especially with kids.
- Good shoes: Avoid blisters by wearing the proper shoes. Closed-toe, comfortable hiking boots with ankle support are a must.
Hiking trails near Denver
Once you’re packed and ready to go, it’s time to finally hit the trail. Below are a few of the most accessible hiking trails that our experts recommend for families:
- The Main Loop at Crown Hill Park is an easy hike for kids, as it is not too hilly and only 3.5 miles long. The park has 6.5 miles of trails that are all groomed and stroller-friendly for families to enjoy. Bonus: The park is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Denver.
- Creekside Trail and Loop at Lair O’ the Bear Park is another stroller-friendly trail that is 1.7 miles long and surrounded by melodic songbirds, light hills and several great picnic spots. This is a fantastic park where you can teach your kids how to identify beaver dams, rainbow fish and even a deer or two in the forest. But be quiet along the way – wildlife runs away at the sound of voices.
- Pine to Peak Trail Loop at the Bald Mountain Scenic Area is perfect for any family that wishes to bring their little ones along for a hike. The park is only 15 minutes outside of Boulder and the trail is a one-mile journey that won’t be too hard or boring for your kids. Better yet, there is a peak at the top that will help your kids feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion.
- Fountain Valley Trail at Roxborough State Park is about 45 minutes from Denver but well worth the drive. This hike is a 2.3 mile loop that is fine to take your stroller on and provides majestic scenery of giant red rocks (similar to the rock formations at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre).
- Show Pond Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one of the best parks to take your family to. The trail is only .25 miles, but it has stroller access, a picnic area for lunch, a pond full of Colorado’s state fish (greenback cutthroat trout) and information on plant and animal life at the park.
Hiking trails near Colorado Springs
- Seven Bridges Trail is a popular hiking-only trail located in North Cheyenne. This 3.8-mile trail follows a mountain stream and features a waterfall. Dogs are allowed on this trail on a leash. This trail is rated as moderate in difficulty.
- Mount Cutler Trail is a short (1.7 miles), easy hike for any skill level and is a popular hike for families. The trail is open year-round. The trail leads up to a saddle on the ridge with views of the famous Seven Falls.
- Garden of the Gods Loop is a popular, easy 3.7-mile loop trail around the main section of the Garden of the Gods vibrant red rock formations. There are many trail options so you can change the route to suit your family’s needs. Leashed dogs are allowed.
- Fountain Creek Nature Trail is an easy, flat 1.7-mile trail located near Fountain, Colorado. It features a river and provides lots of opportunities to see wildlife.
- Rainbow Gulch Trail features a lake and is good for hikers of all skill levels. It features beautiful wildflowers and wildlife sightings. It’s also a great place to see aspens in the fall.
Below are a few spectacular locations to take your family to learn more about Colorado’s finest alpine tundra. Before you hit the trail, though, remember that the best time for wildflower viewing is mid- to late-July.
- Snodgrass Mountain Trail in Crested Butte—the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado”—has a meadow full of wildflowers and fantastic views of Crested Butte Mountain and Washington Gulch.
- Rocky Mountain National Park is full of wildflower sighting opportunities. With 355 miles of hiking trails, there are a variety of ways to experience this grand park and its entire flora. Consider bringing a wildflower identification book on your hike.
- Golden Gate Canyon Park offers one of the greatest, lesser-known local outdoor experiences for your family. Typically, wildflowers like the columbine thrive in higher elevations. And one of the benefits of visiting this less-trafficked park is seeing plentiful wildflowers, especially on the Mountain Lion Trail, which takes you down into the park’s canyon. On your way down, watch for wild mushrooms, aspen and fir trees, too.
- Maroon Bells in Aspen are said to be the most photographed mountains in North America. To see this splendid view, you must do so in the summer and fall months by bus, as the road to get there is closed during the winter due to avalanches. Upon arrival, take a family hike up to Crater Lake and take time to notice the white daisies, sunflowers, columbines and primroses. Unwind with a nice lunch and don’t miss the bus on your way back down.