5 Colorado Hikes to Get the Spring Season Started

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

The snow is melting, the flowers are blooming and Coloradans are participating in the yearly tradition of hanging up their skis boots for hiking boots as the spring hiking season ramps up. Colorado has thousands of hiking trails to enjoy, but unless you have the right equipment, a lot of the trails don’t become viable trips until summer due to snow, mud, icy trails and uncleared paths. 303 Magazine is here to get you started this season with five Colorado hikes to get the spring season started.

Photo by Jeff Albright via Wikimedia commons

The Castle Rock at Rock Park

Distance: 1.4 miles

Route Type: Loop

Drive From Denver: 40 minutes

Location: Rock Park

If you’ve ever driven south of Denver on I-25, it is not hard to see how the town of Castle Rock got its name. Rock Park is the centerpiece of the town and a beautiful hike that requires little drive time. The trail itself is fairly beginner friendly, as most people should have no problem with it. Once you get to the base of the rock, that’s where the real challenge begins. If you have the technical wherewithal and chutzpah, you can free climb to the top of the rock. But as always, be safe and use common sense. There are signs warning of the dangers all over the base of the rock. But if you do summit, the view of Castle Rock is absolutely stunning.

Colorado hikes, manitou incline

Manitou Incline

Distance: 0.88 miles

Route Type: Loop

Drive From Denver: 80 minutes

Location: Pike National Forest

The Manitou Incline is one of the state’s most iconic hikes. The hike gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in one mile. It is intense and sweat-inducing, which is why this hike is best tackled in the spring around May before it gets too hot, but not icy. Reservations are required for your visit, but costs nothing to reserve your spot. Reserve your spot here.

Colorado hikes
Photo Via Sk on Flickr

Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

Distance: 1.5 miles

Route Type: Loop

Drive From Denver: 30 minutes

Location Red Rocks

No list of Colorado hikes would be complete without mention of Red Rocks Amphitheater. While the concert venue that calls this area home is world-renowned, the hiking opportunities in the area are just as epic. There are a number of hikes available, though we at 303 Magazine recommend starting with the Red Rocks Trading Post Trail. Red Rocks is one of Colorado’s most remarkable landmarks, and being able to see it all around you is truly something to behold.

First and Second Flatiron Loop

Distance: 2.7 miles

Route Type: loop

Drive From Denver: 40 minutes

Location: Boulder

The Flatirons are another of Colorado’s gems. The Flatiron Loop can be accessed by the Chautauqua Trailhead. Throughout the trail, you are greeted with both scenic mountain views and views of Boulder below. Depending on when you go and the weather, you may need to bring extra equipment, such as crampons, for the scramble to the top, as it can still be icy and snowy in the spring months. But if you can get to the top, you are greeted with magnificent views.

Colorado hikes
Garden of the Gods after a dusting of snow at dusk (via thinkstock)

Garden of the Gods

Distance: 4 miles

Route Type: Loop

Drive From Denver:

Location: Garden of the Gods Park

Visit Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs and take the main trail of the park which connects to and accompanies each other as the interloop to give you a 4-mile hike around the park. This is a great spring hike, as snow and ice are not a huge issue as it is a fairly paved and flat trail. The rock formations seen on these trails are unlike anything else in the world, and it is easy to see how it got such a powerful name.

Always check local stations and websites for weather, road and trail conditions and closures before heading outside. The weather in Colorado has a mind of its own and doesn’t care about your plans. Bring ample water, good shoes, sunscreen and a respectful attitude toward the outdoors. Be safe and courteous so everyone can enjoy our beautiful state.

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