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Best Hiking Trails in Colorado – USA

Overview

Colorado is a US state in the Mountain West region and is one of the best states for mountain hiking, as the Rocky Mountains provide an endless playground for hikers.  There are thousands of miles of hiking trails here; some of the main areas include: Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Pike and San Isabel National Forest, White River National Forest, San Juan National Forest, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, among others. The best months to hike in Colorado are June to September. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Colorado. 

Capital: Denver

When To Hike in Colorado – USA?

June – September: Driest and warmest, although quite rainy during July to September.  Many higher altitude areas aren’t free of snow until July.
May; October: These months could be ok for lower altitude hikes
November – April: Cold, rain/snow

Climate: Continental – warm/hot summers and cold, snowy winters.  Afternoon thunderstorms are common, particularly during the monsoon of July – early Sept, and can be dangerous due to lightning, so hikes should be undertaken early in the morning. Many national parks .(ie RMNP) won’t allow you to hike if you start off too late. 

 

For monthly weather: Monthly Colorado Weather

For current weather: NOAA Graphical Forecast for Colorado 

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Well-marked trails with good maps, guidebooks and lots of resources for hiking trip planning.  In Colorado, you’re spoiled for choice, so choose an area and there will be plenty of hiking trails to choose from.

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in Colorado for hiking:

  • Boulder
  • Aspen
  • Estes Park
  • Crestone
  • Gunnison
  • Telluride
  • Breckenridge
  • Durango
  • Silverton
  • Leadville
  • Glenwood Springs
  • Crested Butte
  • Buena Vista

Most popular hikes in Colorado – USA

The central and western parts of this state are mountainous, rising up from plains. There are thousands of miles of hiking trails, located in numerous state and national parks as well as recreation areas, national forests, and wilderness areas. Colorado residents love to talk about ’14,000’ ers as there are plenty of them in the state. Highest Mountain: Mount Elbert (4401 m).

Filter out hiking places of Colorado – USA by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Rio Grande National Forest

San Juan National Forest

Uncompahgre Wilderness

Ragged Wilderness

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests

White River National Forest

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

Rocky Mountain National Park

Long Distance Trails of Colorado – USA

Colorado – USA's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Colorado Hiking Books: There are many books, a small sample below

  • Moon Colorado Hiking: Best Hikes Plus Beer, Bites and Campgrounds Nearby, by Joshua Berman, 2024, Moon Travel Guides – https://amzn.to/448iQul
  • Hiking Colorado: A Guide to the State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Sandy Heise, 2022, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/4d5oNMP
  • Hiking Colorado’s Hidden Gems: 40 Undiscovered Trails, by Stewart M. Green, 2022, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/4d1qPxB
  • 101 Classic Hikes of the Southwest: The Best Hikes in Southern Nevada, Southeastern California, Arizona, Western New Mexico, Southwestern Colorado, and Southern Utah, by Bruce Grubbs, 2024, Falcon Press – https://amzn.to/4cWrSPc
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver and Boulder: Including Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain National Park, by Mindy Sink and Kim Lipker, 2020, Menasha Ridge Press – https://amzn.to/49HWuBm
  • Hiking Colorado’s Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness: Plus the Hunter-Fryingpan, Mount Massive, and Collegiate Peaks Wildernesses, by Erik Molvar, 2020, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/4aJLnJw
  • Base Camp Denver: 101 Hikes in Colorado’s Front Range, by Pete KJ, 2019, Imbrifex Books – https://amzn.to/4b5Waxr
  • Hiking Trails of Southwest Colorado, 5th Edition, by John Peel and Paul Pixler, 2020, published by West Margin Press – this book gives an EXCELLENT pictorial overview of where and when to hike in this region – https://amzn.to/448FgMe
  • Hiking Colorado’s Sangre de Cristos and Great Sand Dunes: A Guide to the Area’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Lee Hart, 2016, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/3W6QDlR
  • The Best Hikes on the Continental Divide Trail Colorado, by Liz Thomas (Hiker), Continental Divide Trail Coalition, 2016, Colorado Mountain Club Press – https://amzn.to/3W2WU1N
  • The Colorado Trail, 10th Edition (Colorado Mountain Club Guidebooks), by Colorado Trail Foundation, 2024, Colorado Mountain Club – https://amzn.to/3JphPob
  • Best Hiking in Central Colorado Around Aspen, Marble, Leadville, Buena Vista and Crested Butte, by Diane Greer, 2017, Amazon Digital Services LLC – https://amzn.to/4aFhZUJ
  • Telluride Trails: Hiking Passes, Loops, and Summits of Southwest Colorado, by Don Scarmuzzi, 2013, West Margin Press – https://amzn.to/3U06AHQ

 

Colorado Hiking Associations/Clubs: – there are many clubs

 

Best Hiking Trails in Colorado:

There are too many fantastic hikes in Colorado to choose a handful, but here’s a small sampling. You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official park websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail – Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Longs Peak – Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Hanging Lake – White River National Forest
  • Ice Lakes Basin – San Juan Mountains
  • Star Dune – Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Four Pass Loop – Maroon Bells Wilderness
  • Chasm Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Colorado Trail
  • Blue Lakes – Mount Sneffels Wilderness
  • Mount Bierstadt – Mount Evans Wilderness Area

Easy Hiking Trails in Colorado:

  • Emerald Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Maroon Bells Scenic Loop – Maroon Bells Wilderness
  • Devil’s Head Lookout

 

Colorado Hiking Websites:

 

Colorado Weather Website:

 

Colorado Official Tourism Site:  

 

Colorado Hiking Apps: 

 

Colorado Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

Other Important Points

  • There’s a lot of overlap in terms of wilderness areas and national forests
  • Fall hunting season