If you’re like me, you appreciate the exercise from a good hike, but you want a big pay-off at the end for all of your hard work.
I expect my hikes to end with a BANG! I want to be WOWED! I want to hike along dinosaur tracks, leap over a crater, swim through a waterfall and end with a sweeping view of mountains.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one hike that offers all of that, but you can see all that and more, right here in The Centennial State.
This is one of my favorite type of hikes: short with a cool ending. Located on the Dotsero-Ute Trail just before Glenwood Canyon on I-70 (exit 133) is the Dotsero Crater and volcano. If you want to hike to the top of the crater, it’s 1.25 miles round trip. You can also hike to the bottom of the crater, which is a longer trek. The nearby volcano last erupted some 4,000 years ago, but it’s still hot, and could technically erupt at any moment. However, the United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program and the Global Volcanism Program do not have this volcano on their watch list -which is super comforting. This hike is 2.5 hours from Denver.
Gold Camp Road
Yeah, it’s haunted… but this hike is perfect for those that get bored easily! Around every corner is a pitch black tunnel perfect for freaking out your hiking partner. If you’re looking to park closest to the collapsed tunnel, use the upper lot past Helen Hunt Falls on Cheyenne Canyon Road and head northwest down Upper Gold Camp Road. This hike is a little dangerous due to the loose rock and ghosties. It’s located 2 hours and 15 min from Denver.
Purgatoire River Track Site
Dinosaur tracks! This 17.6 mile round trip hike is worth the trek. You’ll literally be walking the same path as the dinosaurs. The Purgatoire River Track Site is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. If you get bored, try to jump from track to track while you ogle at the view of Picketwire Canyon. This hike is 3.5 hours from Denver.
Totally an off-the-beaten-path attraction in Calhan, Colorado. A hike at the colorful Paint Mines in unlike anything you’ve done before. Get your hands dirty with the chalk from the rock and explore deep into the caverns. Read my tips for hiking the Paint Mines here. This hike is 1.5 hours from Denver.
Get ready to sweat. This verticle mile staircase in Manitou Springs is not for the faint of heart! The view at the top is worth it, but boy, this is a tough one! I’d recommend The Incline to someone who gets bored with level trails and is looking for a fun, unique-to-Colorado challenge. This hike is 2 hours and 15 minutes from Denver.
Considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Colorado, Hanging Lake has become a popular tourist attraction in the state. Recently, the White River Forest Service has limited the amount of people who hike to Hanging Lake everyday to preserve the land. The hike is short and fairly steep and the view at the end is beyond worth it. This hike is 2.5 hours from Denver.
Mesa Verde National Park
See a piece of history at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. Visit the Pueblo people’s dwellings under the overhanging cliff. Tickets sell out very quickly, I recommend purchasing online two days in advance. This hike is 7 hours and 15 minutes from Denver.
This place is a real life Casa Bonita! Paradise Cove (or Guffey Cove, as some call it), is a mile hike that finishes with a little cliff jumping. Water levels vary, jump at your own risk (or watch someone else take the jump, first)! This hike is located in Cripple Creek, about 2 hours south of Denver.
Garden of the Gods
I’d consider this one of the top attractions in Colorado Springs and one of the most interesting hikes in the state. There’s always something to look at as you meander through the bright red rocks. Garden of the Gods offers many different hikes, all of varying lengths and difficulty levels. Read more about Colorado Springs here. This hike is 1 hour from Denver.
Great Sand Dunes
You can’t beat a giant sand box for adults. Grab your sleds and get out to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Mosca, Colorado. The dunes are deceivingly difficult to hike up, you will definitely get a good work out in! See more photos from my trip here. This hike is about 4 hours from Denver.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is located at 6550 Gateway Rd in Commerce City and offers many easy walking trails. There are over 330 species of wildlife here, perfect for the human who is easily distracted. Read more about my trip to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal here. This hike is only 20 minutes from Denver.
I’m interested to hear, which hike would you choose? Remember to share this post with your friends by clicking on one of the social media buttons below!
Thanks for reading,