Outdoor Activities

7 Best Hikes Near Denver That Will Challenge You

The best hikes near Denver are the ones without crowds and require a bit of skill. We’re talking about the hikes that end with our legs completely exhausted, our CamelBaks emptied, and our stomachs growling for a well-deserved meal.

Trying to get outside while following COVID-19 guidelines can be a bit of a challenge while living and staying in Denver. The good news is that Colorado has 5,683 miles of hiking trails which means you’re likely close to one already.

We found seven of the best day hikes near Denver that will actually challenge you and are more secluded than the typical tourist trails. Below you’ll find the location and length of the trail, the route type (loop or out and back), how many feet of elevation you’ll gain, if you can bring your pups, and why we like these particular hikes.

Be A Responsible Hiker

Colorado’s COVID-19 Guidelines

At the time of this writing (July 9th, 2020), Colorado is under Level 2: Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.

Within The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidelines, they state “Aim to stay close to home and choose times and places where you can maintain 6 feet of physical distance between yourself and others.” They also suggest wearing a mask while participating in activities outdoors.

If you’ve read Colorado’s COVID-19 Guidelines and can safely travel and recreate in these areas, remember to bring your own supplies (water, food, tissues, etc.) to limit stops to and from the trailhead.

Leave No Trace Principles

Please remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles and minimize our environmental impact on outdoor adventures. When we don’t stick to “Leave No Trace” principles, evidence of our trip is left behind. This negatively affects wildlife, trails, the environment, and the next generation of explorers.

The seven principles are:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

4. Leave What You Find

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

6. Respect Wildlife

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Indian Creek & Stevens Gulch Loop Trail

Location: Pike National Forest – Sedalia, Colorado

Length: 19.2 Miles

Route Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 3,937 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: We love all the butterflies and wildflowers surrounding intense declines and inclines. Trees cover most of the trail and make this a stunning experience.

Windy Peak via Mountain Lion and Burro Trail Loop

Location: Golden Gate Canyon State Park – Golden, Colorado

Length: 6.2 Miles

Route Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 1,765 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: The terrain changes throughout the loop as well as the views. The trail follows meltwater creeks and crosses through meadows.

Mount Evans Resthouse Trail to Lincoln Lake Trail

Location: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Length: 11 Miles

Route Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 2,198 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: We love exploring Mt. Evans Wilderness but it’s usually difficult to avoid the crowds. This trail is more secluded but we still got views of Mt. Evans and Echo Lake.

Golden Gate Canyon Full Pull Trail

Location: Central City, Colorado

Length: 23.7 Miles

Route Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 4,842 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: This is a big undertaking for hikers and the reason why we love it. It’s long, arduous, and technical but that’s what adventure is all about.

Cub Creek Campground to Staunton Ranch Trail

Location: Staunton State Park – Evergreen, Colorado

Length: 11.2 Miles

Route Type: Point-to-Point

Elevation Gain: 1,961 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: Not only do we get to avoid the crowds on this trail but Staunton State Park is stunning. From lush meadows to powerful granite cliffs, the views are breathing.

McCurdy Mountain

Location: Lost Creek Wilderness – Jefferson, Colorado

Length: 16.9 Miles

Route Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 4,931 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: We love the versatility that comes with this trail. Being an out and back, you can choose to turn around whenever you want. If you want to make it more of a backpacking trip, there are plenty of spots to camps.

South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, and Nebel Horn Loop

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Length: 8.8 Miles

Route Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 3,431 feet

Dogs Allowed: Yes, Leash Required

Why We Like It: This is a great way to train for 14’ers (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet or higher). Bear Peak (8,459′) and South Boulder Peak (8,549′) are two of the highest peaks in Boulder and you gain about 2,000 feet over 2 miles. Plus, to reach the summit, you have to do a little scrambling.