Are you looking for a fun activity to do with your family this summer? How about going for a hike? It’s a great excuse to spend time together, keep the family active and enjoy Colorado’s great outdoors!
What to bring on a family hike
To begin, consider bringing these essential items along:
- Sunscreen: Apply 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.
- 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 for families in the Denver area:
- 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 a great collection of 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 to 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 chatterboxes!
- 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 also a peak at the top that will help your kids feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion of the hike.
- 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). And in addition, if you stop by the Visitor Center, you will find a very happy park ranger with updates about all of the park’s latest wildlife sightings!
- Show Pond Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one of the best parks to take your family. The trail is not much of a hike at only .25 miles, but you will get special park ranger attention at the Visitor Center, making this an ideal educational and introductory outdoor experience for your family. The trail also 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.
There are many trails that are no more than a quick drive away from Denver to get your family outside.
Check out more sports articles for parents written by the Sports Medicine team at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Wildflower hikes in Colorado
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 in Crested Butte—the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado”—to experience a meadow full of wildflowers and fantastic views of Crested Butte Mountain and Washington Gulch. During the summer, the town of Crested Butte hosts a Wildflower Festival, where you can arrange to hike Snodgrass Mountain with a leader who is knowledgeable about the many species of wildflowers in the region. Learn more about the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.
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. If your family is looking for more of an educational opportunity, participate on a ranger-led hike at Lily Lake to learn how to identify wildflowers, like flax, buttercups, fairy trumpets, strawberry flowers (that later turn into the fruit) and more! Note: The park entrance fee is $20, but there is no charge for the ranger-led hike. 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 to explore. Typically, wildflowers, like the columbine, thrive in higher elevations, but one of the benefits of visiting this less-trafficked park is being able to see plentiful wildflowers, especially on the Mountain Lion Trail that 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. Learn more about Maroon Bells.