Warmer months are on their way, and it’s almost time to enjoy the wildflowers that blossom in the prairies and mountain valleys of the Centennial State. You and your friends might make sure to always witness colorful Colorado’s aspens in the autumn, but don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers too. Some of the best spots to see blossoms are only a short drive away from the Mile High City, so make sure you don’t miss out on prime bloom time. Here are our favorite trails that make the best spring and summer hikes you just have to check out.

1. Gem Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park via Facebook

Where: Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park
Length: 3.3 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Hard
Peak Blooming: Late April – early May
Highlights: This somewhat difficult hike features a small, spring-fed mountain lake and it’s not hard to figure out why it’s named gem. Beautiful mountain views of the Continental Divide and scenes of Estes Park and Longs Peak surround you as well as unique rock formations on this glacial moraine. Pretty flowers are scattered all over, making it a great hike to catch some early season blossoms.

2. Mayflower Gulch

Mayflower Gulch via All Trails

Where: White River National Forest near Breckenridge
Length: 6.1 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Peak Blooming: Late May – July
Highlights: If you want to spin around in a gorgeous green mountain field full of flowers like Maria does in The Sound of Music, then hiking in Mayflower Gulch is your best bet. This trail close to Breck and Copper Mountain is dotted with yellow, purple and red flowers that look gorgeous next to the jagged mountain backdrop and old cabins of the Boston Mine. The hills are clearly alive here.

3. Bighorn Creek

Bighorn Creek Trail via All Trails

Where: White River National Forest near Vail
Length: 6.4 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Peak Blooming: Early June – July
Highlights: Although this hike isn’t the most popular near Vail since it doesn’t have a lake, Bighorn Creek is worth the visit since it has the prettiest valleys with an abundance of blooms. The trail makes for an easy day hike and has some of the most beautiful meadows with flowers dotting the path the entire way.

4. Butler Gulch

Butler Gulch via All Trails

Where: Arapaho National Forest near Berthoud Falls
Length: 4.8 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Hard
Peak Blooming: Early June – July
Highlights: If you want to experience jaw-dropping views with over 100 species of wildflowers, look no further than Butler Gulch. Featuring a year-round glacier, alpine lakes and mountain scenery at nearly 12,000 feet, Butler Gulch has a lot more than just wildflowers, but we promise the blossoms make it even better.

5. Devil’s Thumb Lake

Indian Peaks Wilderness in August. Photo via Thinkstock.

Where: Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland.
Length: 13.3 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Peak Blooming: Mid-June – early July
Highlights: Hiking a section of the Devil’s Thumb Lake Trail not far from Boulder will offer you a breathtaking alpine escalation for spectacular views of the Continental Divide. In late spring and early summer months, hiking a stretch of this mountain trail will ensure you see beautiful bluebells and wild purple columbines.

6. Well Gulch

Lory State Park via Facebook

Where: Charles A. Lory State Park near Bellvue
Length: 1.8 mile loop trail
Difficulty: Easy
Peak Blooming: Late May – June
Highlights: As one of the easiest trails on our list, the Well Gulch Nature Trail is the perfect stroll through floral paradise. Particularly flat in elevation, this family-friendly and pleasant hike features many wildflowers in all colors and sizes that will relax your mind as you also enjoy the Gulch’s gorgeous soothing creek and waterfall.

7. Cub Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park via Facebook

Where: Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park.
Length: 6.1 mile loop trail
Difficulty: Easy
Peak Blooming: Late May – July
Highlights: At 8,620 feet, the Cub Lake Trail is perfect for catching early blooms in the season as well as offering more than 80 varieties of wildflowers that stay well into summertime. Beautiful mountain views make this lake hike completely worthwhile and the bright yellow pond lilies on the lake are a definite sight to see.

8. Herman Gulch

Herman Gulch via All Trails

Where: Arapaho National Forest near Idaho Springs.
Length: 6.4 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Peak Blooming: Mid-June – July
Highlights: Enjoy natural beauty with the lush, green meadows below snowcapped mountains on the Herman Gulch Trail. Yellow and red flowers will bloom all over the valley as you hike beside views of the Continental Divide and climb to the shimmering green Herman Lake at nearly 12,000 feet. Nature has never looked so good.

9. Aspen to Crested Butte (West Maroon Pass)

Wildflowers bloom in a mountain meadow above Crested Butte, Colorado. Photo via Thinkstock.

Where: Maroon Bells, Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen to Gothic Natural Area near Crested Butte.
Length: 11 mile one-way trail
Difficulty: Hard
Peak Blooming: Mid-June – July
Highlights: Nicknamed the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte is unsurprisingly on our list. In the third week of July, the town hosts the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival where tourists come to witness the best bloom of the year in Colorado with colorful, eye-catching wildflowers like you’ve never seen before. Hikers who wish to make this trek must spend the night, camp, shuttle cars or arrange a pick-up since the trail starts at the iconic Maroon Bells near Aspen and ends in Gothic Natural Area near Crested Butte. Go big or go home, right?

10. Yankee Boy Basin

Wild Colorado Columbine inside Yankee Boy Basin near Ouray, Colorado. Photo via Thinkstock.

Where: Uncompahgre National Forest near Ouray.
Length: 9.3 mile point to point trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Peak Blooming: June – Late July
Highlights: As one of the most famous locales for wildflowers, this popular hike near Ouray looks like Switzerland in the United States. Featuring mountains and old historic ruins of mines, this gorgeous hike will leave you breathless as you witness hundreds of blooms that definitely make the perfect photo op.

11. Ice Lake + Island Lake

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Where: San Juan National Forest near Silverton.
Length: 8.1 mile out and back trail
Difficulty: Hard
Peak Blooming: Mid-July – August
Highlights: If you’re up for a challenge and want to see beautiful blooms, make sure you check out the double basins of Island Lake and Ice Lake in the San Juan National Forest. This longer hike has everything you want: aspen groves, gorgeous meadows, a waterfall, jaw-dropping cliffs, and glaciers eroded in the rocks. The wildflower-filled slope is also stunning and you won’t want to miss it. There is absolutely nothing boring about this hike.

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