Ten Scenic Winter Hikes Near Denver

Ten Scenic Winter Hikes Near Denver

Aside from warm layers and the usual essentials, there’s only one thing you need to continue hiking into winter: a traction device. Often referred to as spikes, they are similar to the snow chains required when driving on snowy I-70. But instead of tires, these products strap onto a pair of hiking boots, allowing you to traverse icy terrain with far less risk of slipping. You can find them online for as little as $25, then enjoy these ten winter hikes near Denver:

Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails
Moderate, 3 mile loop

Expect relatively more crowds at Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails, even in winter. Part of its popularity is due to its proximity to downtown and Red Rocks Amphitheater. But hikers are also drawn to the incredible views. Similar to the nearby Music Hall, huge slabs of red sandstone soar into the sky, made even more beautiful by a dusting of snow. It’s a moderate loop if You hike counter-clockwise—if you walk backwards, the first mile climbs a whopping 540 feet. Choose your own adventure!

Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop
Moderate, 5 mile loop

To access the Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop, head west on I-70 and take the Chief Hosa exit. You may hear some vehicular traffic at first, but this quickly fades as you hike into the snowy evergreen forest. This trail begins with a descent followed by a gradual 1,120 foot elevation gain. You’ll cross several wooden bridges over streams, enjoy panoramic views, and traverse some narrow, short rocky outcrops. Because of these exposure moments, it’s especially important to pack spikes in case the trails are icy.

Lake Ladora and Lake Mary Loop Trail
trading town
Easy 2.7 mile loop

The Lake Ladora and Lake Mary Loop Trail is one of Denver’s greatest city hikes. Located in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, this is best visited in the morning when the animals are active. Enjoy the sunrise and you are likely to see white-tailed deer, coyotes, and a large number of bird species including bald eagles. After your scenic hike, consider the 11-mile Wildlife Drive to see bison against the backdrop of the city skyline.

Mount Falcon Castle Loop Trail
Moderate, 7.4 mile loop

Located 30 minutes southwest of downtown, Mount Falcon Park was named “Best Denver Mountain Park” in 2020. Locals love this park for its vast network of multipurpose trails that stretch 12.2 miles across 2,252 acres. The Mount Falcon Castle Loop Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, largely for its unique historical features. Here visitors can admire the ruins of the Walker Home and the Summer White House. The Eagle Eye Shelter is another interesting site that offers stunning views of the snow-capped Front Range.

Coyote Song Trail
Easy 3 mile loop

Similar to Red Rocks Park and nearby Roxborough State Park, South Valley Park’s Coyote Song Trail features impressive red sandstone formations. But this smaller park attracts fewer people and features only easy, relatively flat trails. This makes the destination a great choice for less experienced hikers as well as those new to trail running and fat tire biking. The 3-mile Coyote Song Trail offers a great overview of the area and stretches from the north to the south end of the park.

Meadowlark Plymouth Creek and Plymouth Mountain Trail Loop
Moderate, 6 mile loop

Adjacent to South Valley Park is Deer Creek Canyon Park, which has 14 miles of hiking trails. One of the most popular routes is Meadowlark Plymouth Creek and Plymouth Mountain Trail Loop, a great winter hike near Denver. Enjoy city and mountain views as you gain 1,309 feet of elevation. Parts of this trail see a lot of sunlight, others are forested and often icy at this time of year. Be careful, especially between the two loops where the trail is at its steepest.

Green Mountain Loop via the Chautauqua Trail
Hard 6 mile loop

The view of the Green Mountain Loop over the Chautauqua Trail is hard to beat. Admire the iconic Flatirons, Indian Peaks and City of Boulder as you climb a whopping 800 meters. Due to the considerable difference in altitude, this trail is ideal for experienced hikers, especially in winter. It is classified as Class 1, which means no encryption is required. However, around the 1.5 mile marker (clockwise), a short ladder connects the upper and lower parts of the trail. Fun fact: This unique feature was installed after the 2013 floods that devastated Boulder County.

main mountain trail
Moderate, 2.8 miles round trip

For great views less than an hour from Denver, head up the Chief Mountain Trail. It’s one of the best snowshoe routes around after a big storm. But usually you don’t need more than spikes in winter, since the heavily traveled trail is often covered with snow. After climbing 941 feet in elevation, hikers are treated to panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. After your scenic hike, visit the Westbound & Down Brewing Company, one of the top breweries near hiking trails.

Mount Sniktau hiking trail
Hart, 4 miles round trip

Fourteens take the spotlight, but thirteens like Mount Sniktau also offer incredible views. To reach the trailhead, drive up Loveland Pass and park in the lot near the elevation sign. Starting at 11,990 feet above sea level, hike two miles to the 13,240-foot summit. From here, hike back the way you came or pack your skis because Loveland Pass is one of the top backcountry ski areas. But be prepared if attempting this as both Mount Sniktau Schockleys Line and Mount Sniktau Overlook Line are prone to avalanches.

Gem Lake Trail
Estes Park
Moderate, 3.1 miles round trip

The Gem Lake Trail is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Many would agree that winter is the best time to visit as you will see far fewer crowds than in the peak season. Still, it draws enough visitors to create a solid snowpack for spiked hiking — which you’ll likely need to scale 830 feet. While this is a solid workout, you’ll be rewarded with views of one of Colorado’s most breathtaking alpine lakes. To experience this trail, note that a one-day vehicle entry pass is required, which costs $30.

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