Easy Hikes Near Denver

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Here are my recommendations for the best easy hikes near Denver. Whether you don’t have a lot of time or want a low-key hiking day, this list has got you covered.

When I put together this list I focused on just a few criteria that, in my experience, will make for an easy hike near Denver. This is by no means an exhaustive list of every easy hike in and around Denver. But it is a list of the ones I think will be great value for your time.

Since lists like these don’t often tell you the primary criteria for their choices, here’s what we focused on:

  • Drive Time: Less than 45 minutes from downtown Denver
  • Length: 3 miles or less
  • Altitude: ~8,000 ft or less
  • Minimal elevation gain
  • In the foothills or mountains

I attempted to spread the love around all areas of Denver with hikes located to the south and also the north. Just below you can find a map with pins for each of the hikes. Click “More details” on the pin to jump to that trail’s section write-up.

Trading Post Trail - Red Rocks

Thanks to SK on Flickr
  • Drive Time: 25 mins from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 1.3 miles
  • Altitude: ~6,000 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available

The Trading Post Trail is a 1.3 mile loop hike which features mostly flat and level terrain. Soaring red rocks (surprise, surprise!) surround all areas of the loop.

This hike sits only 25 mins from downtown Denver making it perfect for a quick getaway from the city. With only 300 ft of ascent across the entire 1.3 miles you’re looking at a fairly flat hike. Combine that with a trail altitude of about 6000 ft and this trail is ideal for beginners or out-of-towners.

There are multiple access points to the trail all the way around. The largest amount of parking is near the Trading Post Trail store just south of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.

For beginners or those with kiddos, I recommend starting on the western portion of the loop first. If you’re looking at the Trading Post store the western portion is on your right. Doing this, you’ll start off descending the steepest section of the trail instead of ascending it at the very end.

The path is well-marked and with the multitude of other hikers it is tough to get lost. If you have the time, I recommend going over and taking a look at the Red Rocks Amphitheater as a post trail reward. Additionally, if you’re looking for more of a challenge you can hit up the Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trail nearby.

Overall, you really can’t beat the Red Rocks Trading Post Trail for accessibility from Denver, ease, and gorgeous terrain. Although, with fair warning, it is an extremely popular hike. You’ll be sharing the views with a crowd during the sunny summer months but get there early and it’s worth it.

Rawhide and Wrangler's Run Trail

  • Drive Time: 45 mins from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 2.1 miles
  • Altitude: ~7,500 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms on the Longhorn Trail

Rawhide and Wrangler’s Run are a pair of connected trails that together makeup a pretty low-key and secluded hike right near Denver! For all 2.1 miles you’ll be hiking through the fields of the foothills which, depending on the season, could be filled with wildflowers.

As a hiker, you will likely be one of the few there, but be aware you may be sharing the trail with mountain bikers. The trail has beautiful views with vistas out onto the plains but also back towards the mountains.  There’s also a fair chance that you’ll be able to see some wildlife here (look but don’t bother!).

Use the Wrangler’s Run connector trail about halfway through the Rawhide trail to transform the Rawhide trail into a shorter hike than the full Rawhide trail. Make sure you follow the signs for Wrangler’s run or else you’re signing up for the 5 mile Rawhide trail! No worries, however, as this trail is well-marked and as long as you pay attention to the signs you should have no problem.

For those wanting to avoid steep sections, I recommend starting the trail on the easternmost portion of the Rawhide Trail. This will be on your right as you are in the parking lot looking north at the trailhead. If you go to the right you will avoid a ~500 ft elevation gain over about .5 miles. You’ll descend this area at the start instead of ascending at the end.

For something off the beaten path but still an easy hike near Denver head out to the Rawhide and Wrangler’s Run Trail!

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Gear You'll Need

Since these are very short day hikes you don’t need a significant amount of gear but it is important to be prepared. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains so we do have some essentials that we recommend bringing along.

  1. Good pair of athletic shoes – you won’t need hiking boots but I do recommend a sturdy pair of shoes in case the trail is uneven
  2. Layers – always recommend layers to dress up or down depending on the temperature
  3. Rain jacket – especially in summer  you never know when a storm can pop up
  4. Water bottle – recommend at least 1 liter of water per person especially in hot summer conditions
  5. Sunscreen – protect that skin!

Bruin Bluff Trail - Lair o' the Bear Park

Credit to Footwarrior
  • Drive Time: 30 mins from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Altitude: ~6,500 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available

The Bruin Bluff trail is a great 1.5 mile loop in the Lair o’ the Bear park near Genesee Colorado. This easygoing trail winds its way across Bear Creek and through the surrounding woods. Views of the surrounding hills and mountains will dot your trek.

It is well worth it, but you will be sharing the trail with many others since Lair o’ the Bear park is very popular. This trail is ideal for those with kids or beginners that want to get away from Denver a little further than the foothill trails. Be aware, the trail is very close to the road so you could have some road noise while you are hiking.

The Bruin Bluff trail starts at the Lair o’ the Bear parking lot. See the Google Map at the beginning of the article for directions there. From the trailhead, either direction you take will have a similar grade to it so no one way is easier than the other.

The trail goes gently up and down, meandering through the forest until you hit the high point at about the mid-point of the trail. This high point is only 200 ft higher than the trailhead so overall it is not very steep when spread out across the hike. Just follow the signs for the Bruin Bluff trail and it will be difficult to get lost.

The Bruin Bluff trail is an excellent short day hike out in the mountains. The path is wide and the trail meandering, take your time and relax on this easy hike in the mountain air.

Coyote Song Trail - South Valley State Park

Credit to Dirk Huizenga
  • Drive Time: 30 mins from downtown Denver
  • Length: ~3 miles
  • Altitude: ~6,000 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available, open 1 hr before sunrise to 1 hr after sunset

For those of you south of Denver, check out the Coyote Song Trail Loop in Littleton. This moderately trafficked 3 mile hike with wide paths winds you through many beautiful red rock formations. Also, there’s a great chance to see some wildlife!

While the Coyote Song Trail Loop doesn’t have much elevation gain (~300 ft) it’s a great, easy trail to stretch your legs out. Not only do the varying red rock formations surround you throughout the hike but you’re also rewarded with great views of the foothills to the west.
 
During the hot summer months I would recommend going early in the morning or later in the afternoon. There is not a lot of shade on the trail so these times will help avoid that heat. This works perfectly with the summer parking situation as it is better to arrive by mid-morning to ensure a parking spot.
 
There is both a northern and southern trailhead for the Coyote Song Trail Loop. If you park at the northern trailhead it will be about .8 miles shorter. The southern trailhead includes a section that leads to the loop.
 
The loop is actually a combo of two trails: the Coyote Song Trail and the Swallow Trail. If you start at the southern trailhead you’ll need to take the Coyote Song Trail before you reach the loop. Starting at the northern trailhead will start you out right on the loop.
 
For another easy hike near Denver I would definitely hit up the Coyote Song Trail loop. Fans of red rocks in the foothills will definitely feel at home here.
 

Forest and Meadow Trail - Lookout Mountain

Credit to Ligoweth
  • Drive Time: 25-30 minutes from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 1.2 miles
  • Altitude: ~7,500 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available

As a real quick trip out from Denver I would check out the Forest and Meadow Loop trail on the top of Lookout Mountain. This short hike is really the epitome of an easy hike near Denver. It has great views of the plains, city, and the mountains and is just a short drive from downtown.

Starting out from the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve this 1.2 mile trail winds through the meadow and sparse forest at the top of Lookout mountain. The path is wide and smooth with very little elevation change (only 141 ft!) across the entire trail.

You’ll start on the Forest Loop Trail which is a very small loop that intersects with the longer Meadow Trail after about .2 miles. As these trails are a loop and the only ones nearby, just keep following the path until you arrive back at the Nature Center.

Because of its closeness to Denver expect that these trails will be very popular on the weekends. Most especially during the summer. I recommend hitting up the trail either early on the weekends or on a weeknight.

For those parents with very young children just walking the Forest trail is a great, short walk to get them moving. You can also stop by the Nature Center before or afterwards to see interactive displays of the foothills ecosystem! Hours can be found on the Jefferson County Website.

While you won’t find solitude at Lookout Mountain you will find a close-by place for a short jaunt into nature. Perfect for a quick summer evening or morning walk.

Fountain Valley Trail - Roxborough State Park

Credit to Footwarrior
  • Drive Time: 45 minutes from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 2.3 miles
  • Altitude: 6,200 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available, $8 entrance fee per car

All you southern Denverites, this is a trail for you. Without heading all the way to the Garden of the Gods you can get the dramatic landscapes of Colorado’s red rocks in a short hike. Situated at Roxborough State Park, the Fountain Valley Trail provides a 2.3 mile loop with an offshoot overlook trail for a spectacular view of the park’s red rocks.

The trail starts off at the Roxborough State Park visitor center and heads north. Before too long, you’ll hit a fork in the trail and I recommend heading to the right for a gentler grade along the trail. Going this way you’ll soon come across the Lyons Overlook. This offshoot trail (.1 mi long) takes you to a terrace that surveys the park’s striking red rocks. The rest of the trail heads through meadows and wooded areas as you pass by the massive rocks.

The trail is very wide and since it is the only one in the area it is easy to follow. I would also not worry about any steep sections since the grade stays gentle for the whole hike. However, another word of warning, this trail and park are very popular on weekends. I would highly recommend going in the morning rather than in the middle of the day. Going in the morning also helps you keep cooler on the trail sections with no shade.

For those of you south of Denver I highly recommend that you and your out-of-town guests hit up the Fountain Valley Trail. With its gentle grade and low altitude this makes for an easy and beautiful introduction to Colorado hiking.

Mt Falcon Lookout Trail

  • Drive Time: 35 minutes from Downtown Denver
  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Altitude: 7,800 ft
  • Notes: Restrooms available

The Mt Falcon Lookout Trail is a fantastic short hike to get some great views of the mountains and also Denver. This trail is a 1.4 mile out-and-back that travels up to the top of Mt. Falcon, a 7,800 ft mountain in the foothills of the Rockies. Early summer hiking will feature wildflowers but all seasons feature the great overlooks of the mountains & plains. If you’d like to branch out a bit, Mt Falcon Park also features many other great trails.

The trail starts at the Mt Falcon Park West Trailhead and you’ll need to follow the Castle Trail to get started. Keep going straight until you come to an end to the trail and are required to take a left. Head up the last little bit to get to the top of Mt Falcon. At the top there’s a nice little raised platform to climb onto to get a better view of the sights around.

For those of you looking for a nice easy stroll or maybe a picnic there’s some great stopping points along the way. If you want to stop for lunch along the trail there’s an awesome pavilion about a half mile down the trail. It has a porch with great views to the west and a few (~4) covered picnic tables underneath. Benches also dot the trail.

While you will have to retrace your steps on this out-and-back the Mt Falcon Lookout Trail is plenty worth it. Since it is a moderately traveled trail during the summer months you won’t have to fight the crowds like those at some more popular hikes. Level terrain and a short trail make this easy Denver hike an underrated find.

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