May 13, 2022 5 min read

The Best Colorado Hiking Trails You Can't Miss This Summer

Whether you’re new to the state, just stopping by, or a long-term resident, chances are that you’re ready to hit the trails as the days get warmer. To get you ready, we’re sharing the very best Colorado summer hiking trails around the state. Plus, a waterfall hike that you won’t want to miss.


Take a second to picture Colorado summertime in your head….


Ready? 


Chances are that your imagination is filled with powerful mountains, dainty wildflowers, and sunshine-filled days. Spending the summer in Colorado is a breathtaking experience. Make sure you get the best of it by exploring some of the thousands of miles of trail that makes the Centennial State famous.


Whether you live in Colorado Springs and are looking for a trail close to home, yearning to get out of the city hustle in Denver, taking a trip up to Vail for some alpine wildflowers, or looking for a place to cool off next to a waterfall - you came to the right place. These top Colorado hiking trails have it all.


Hiking Near Colorado Springs


Colorado Springs attracted settlers as early as the 1800s because of its natural beauty and proximity to the glorious mountains. Today, the “Springs” continues to host awe-inspiring vistas and easy access to the great outdoors. 


There are two unforgettable hikes near Colorado Springs that you can’t miss: Rainbow Gulch Trail and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. 


Rainbow Gulch Trail

The Rainbow Gulch Trail is a 3.4 mile out and back trail that’s ideal for an enjoyable day hike. It ends at a beautiful reservoir where you can enjoy fishing and camping. With a moderate distance and elevation, this trail is great for new hikers, visitors, and those looking to get their hiking legs under them for the start of summer.


Red Rock Canyon Open Space

This tranquil trail system  is a great place for the whole family, including your dogs, of course! From the high point of most trailsl, you can see the famous “Garden of the Gods” from a new perspective. There is also a quiet pond near the center of the open space where you might get lucky and see a rock climber scaling the red rock walls! Choose from short strolls and strenuous hikes- there’s something for everyone here.



Colorado: Hiking Near Denver That Feels Remote


Denver is the gateway to an incredible array of outdoor adventures. If you’re looking to escape the city life for a couple hours, there are several hiking trails near Denver that feel remote. 


These undiscovered hiking trails are an easy drive from Denver. Even though these hikes are close to Denver, you will find solitude, peace, and maybe even spot some wildlife.

Sleepy Lion Trail

The best hike near Denver that feels remote is the “Sleepy Lion Trail.” This trail is located in a small mountain town called Lyons, which is less than an hour away from the city. Sleepy Lion Trail is a 5.4 mile loop that passes by a gorgeous body of water where you can fish and play during the summer months. The trail also leads you through several meadows where you’ll often spot deer and elk.


Centennial Cone

If you’re looking for a trail that is a little more challenging, but without the crowds of some of the popular 14ers, then Centennial Cone is your answer. 


To get to the top of Centennial Cone, you’ll take a 13.8 mile hike where you gain 2,600+ feet of elevation gain. Although this might sound like a lot, the views at the top are worth it. Plus, the area is known for its glorious wildflowers in the summer months. 


Make sure you check the date before you go though! There is a policy where only mountain bikers can ride every other day. Some trails are also closed from February to June to protect elk mating habitat, so double check the trail you want to hike if you’re heading out in the early spring and summer months.


Colorado Hiking: Waterfalls You’ll Love


Nothing complements the rugged Rocky Mountains quite like a gushing waterfall. The following hikes feature waterfalls and are the perfect summer adventures for the whole family. You will love the natural beauty and cooling mist of these waterfalls, and they’ll make even the sweatiest hikes worth the effort.

Maxwell Falls Trail

Maxwell Falls Trail is an ideal close-to-Denver summer hike for families and vacationers who are worried about the elevation.  The trek is only 45 minutes outside of Denver and it features gentle terrain, lively wildflowers and, most importantly, a cascading waterfall. Once you reach the base of the falls, you can walk up to the top to peer down into the pool below. Not only is it gorgeous, but it also makes for the perfect photo op. The best part is that you can get all the way to the falls and back in only 4.4 miles! 

Bridal Veil Falls

Perhaps the most classic Colorado waterfall hike is Bridal Veil Falls, located outside of scenic Telluride. These falls have always been on the list of best summer hikes in Colorado due to the awe striking beauty of the area. However, thanks to new trail improvements in 2020, you no longer have to hike up a 4x4 road for the best views. Instead, a new and improved trail system takes you a mile up a secluded trail to a great vantage point. You will pass a couple waterfalls and a great swimming hole on the two-mile round trip hike, and it will surely be one you remember forever.



Hiking In Vail Colorado


Vail has some of the best hikes in the state, and maybe even the country. Despite the fact it might be best known for its world-class ski resort, there’s plenty to see off the main street.. 


Shrine Ridge Trail

The spectacular vistas at the top of Shrine Ridge trail in Vail, Colorado make it a must-do for locals and visitors alike. It is a moderate hike that is only 4.3 miles with a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The trail goes through meadows of pine trees until you reach the ridge. At the ridge, you’re greeted with spectacular views of Mount Holy Cross, a famous Colorado 14er with a cross on top. Look closely, and you’ll see the tips of peaks in the Gore Mountain Range too.


Lost Lake Trail

The other must-do summer hike in Vail is Lost Lake Trail. Although this spot  is quite close to several popular trails, it doesn't get as much traffic as its neighbors. This makes it a great destination if you’re looking for a more remote feel. Plus, you have more chances to see wildlife! This trail is a bit longer at 7 miles round trip, but it’s flatter than most in the area, with less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain.


Summer adventures are just around the corner and the best Colorado hiking trails are calling your name. Stay covered and cool on all your hikes with aColorful YoColorado Hat!
Karen Williams
Karen Williams



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