Denver is a great city for dog parks and dog-friendly neighborhoods, but sometimes, a fenced-in area with a bunch of other dogs and people just doesn’t cut it for you or your pup. Dogs need adventure, changes of scenery and running around time and hey, we do to0 – one of the greatest things about having a dog is the excuse to get exercise the fun way instead of being shut up in a gym. But, it isn’t always possible to make a super-long trek just to get your dog the exercise he or she deserves. Have no fear – we’ve compiled a list of all the best spots to take your pup within decent driving distance of downtown Denver. Try out these dog-friendly hikes these out for a fun way to spice up your K9 routine and keep things fresh and healthy.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Hiking With Your Dog in Colorado 

1. Elk Meadow Off-Leash Area in Evergreen

Located right up the hill from the rest of Elk Meadow Park, this spot can be a trick to find at first (hint: turn at the only Taco Bell in Evergreen and follow that road) but once you do, it is well worth it. This trail is just as fun for humans as it is for dogs, and features some cool rocks to climb on, nice benches, and epic views of both 14ers and foothills. The best part is, no leash required. As long as your pup has the necessary shots and is safe around people and dogs, you can walk the trails without the annoyance of minding a leashed dog the whole time. There are also a couple different options in the park, including a couple trails and then a fenced field for if you want to play fetch and have more of the classic dog park experience. And the icing on the cake? This spot is just a 25 minute drive from the South Broadway neighborhood downtown.


2. Red Rocks Trail at Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Parks Amphitheater via Thinkstock.

When Red Rocks isn’t serving as Denver’s premier entertainment spot for all things music, it doubles as a cool place to work out and hike. While this may not be quite as much fun as the off-leash spots, there are a variety of different paths you can take, so there’s something for both the athletic runner with the Labrador puppy and the laid back couple with the old basset hound alike. Plus, the views are just astounding, and you certainly aren’t in the middle of nowhere – you’re right outside Morrison, where you can stop for a bite to eat before heading back into town.


3. Green Mountain Trail Near Boulder

If you are up for a slight challenge, and a slightly longer trek by car up to the Boulder area, then this hike is well worth it. You have to work to get to the top, but once you do, you are greeted by a fantastic view of the amazing and majestic flatirons. What’s even better, this trail is right outside of Boulder, so you can grab lunch and hit a dog park before heading up, making for an even easier climb with an already-tired-out pup.


4. Red Rocks Open Space in Colorado Springs

Snow covered Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs at the base of 14,000 foot Pikes Peak. Photo via Thinkstock.

This one is probably the furthest away, as it is all the way down in the Springs, but all Coloradans should experience the glory that is Garden of the Gods, the famous stony landmark. Right across from the Garden is another awesome park, Red Rocks Open Space. What makes this the ultimate stops for all dog lovers is, not only is it a bit less touristy, it also offers an off-leash trail option, unlike GOTG. That’s right, enjoy the majesty of the red rocks of Colorado and the blue skies while your dog scampers happily around your feet. The only downside: be prepared to trek your poop bags around with you, as their are only trash cans at the entrances of the park.


5. Bear Creek Trail in Lair O’ the Bear Park

While this is not an off-leash trail, it is still an awesome option to check out with your furry friend. The variety of paths to take here will keep them running around for hours and the amazing scenery to check out will keep you just as entertained while they are doing it. Plus, dogs love water and the added attraction of the creek running along the trail is a fun way for them to cool off during the warmer season. Also, there are some cute picnic areas in the park and a few open space areas to explore, so you can stay all day. And best of all, it’s hardly half an hour outside the city.


6. Meadowlark Trail Loop in Littleton

This hike is one of the closest possible to the city while still enjoying all the wonder and majesty of Jefferson County, the foothills, and the expansive nature surrounding Denver. This trail is within Jefferson County Open Space, and is a slightly longer hike that crosses a creek and gets some awesome views of the mountains and foothills in the distance. With plenty of picnic spots and other short stops along the way, this is the perfect solution to a dog that needs to blow off a lot of steam in the great outdoors without venturing very far from you own backyard.


7. Platte River Greenway Trail  in Denver

The Speer Boulevard Bridge in Denver, Colorado that suspends over the Platte River via Thinkstock

Even more so than number six, this trail is great for a dog that needs to hike all day on a day when you don’t have time to drive out of the city. This trail is actually in Denver, right along Platte River in the Adams County area, which used to be the agricultural center of Denver. You can still spot a few rustic farms, and in addition to this being an almost five-hour hike, if you chose to complete the whole thing, you get the added benefit of walking along the beach and enjoying some nice time by the water. This works perfectly for a day off when you are low on gas money or without a car but still want to have a good time with your pup. And of course, you don’t have to do the whole trail, so you can also just make this a short trip and not have to go too far from home.


8. Flatirons Vista in Boulder

A sunset view of a trail leading through Boulder Colorado’s Chautauqua Park via Thinkstock

Similar to number three, this one offers some amazing views and some quality time looking at the Flat Irons, and is a great stop to make if you are planning on visiting Boulder. Try and take your pup the full three miles, take in the views, and by the time you complete the trail you will be ready to relax in town or on the ride home, and so will your furry baby.


9. Mary Carter Greenway Trail in Littleton

This trail, also known as the Arapahoe Greenway, is right in Littleton, and an easy 15-minute drive outside of the city. There are many different routes to take here with your pup, and plenty of chances to get them to burn off their energy. Plus, you can practically still see the city. This is a great option if you have limited time but a lot of exploring to do.


10. Frazer Meadow Trail in Golden

A mixed breed black dog on a hike in Golden, Colorado via Thinkstock

Located inside glorious Golden Gate Canyon State Park, this four-hour hike offers four different trails for varying levels of proficiency, and awesome views of nearby and far away mountain peaks, the beautiful surrounding forests, and majestic meadows running through the park. Your dog will be entertained by all the space to run around and enjoy and you will get to take in some lush scenery, all just a stone’s throw away from downtown.


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