Ranked as one of the most physically active states in the nation, Coloradans are always down for an adventure that will keep them moving. And with such unique terrain and spectacular mountain views, we can’t help but be outside, even during hot summers like this one. But sometimes short and sweet is just what we need to get outdoors without overheating, so check these 5 hikes under 5 miles near Denver for a quick burst of adventure.
Arch Rock at Rocky Mountain National Park
Where: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance: 3 Miles
The Lowdown: Take a 2-hour road trip from Denver to your bucket list destination, Rocky Mountain National Park. Although there’s a list of trails to choose from, nothing beats hiking through Arch Rock — the towering boulder formations you’ll find on the route. Take a peaceful stroll on flat ground along the burbling Big Thompson River. It’s the longest trail on our list of 5 hikes under 5 miles near Denver, but at three miles roundtrip, this trail is a must for beginners or anyone looking for a walk in under two hours. Bring along family, friends and a picnic to enjoy amongst the rock formations.
Make sure to arrive early, parking is limited, and spots fill up quickly. 1-day vehicle passes cost $30. Other passes vary.
Lookout Mountain Preserve and Nature Center Forest Loop Tail and The Meadow Loop
Where: 910 Colorow Rd, Golden
Distance: 0.6 & 0.8 Miles
The Lowdown: If you’re looking for an intro to hiking or a way to inspire your kids to get active, south of Golden, Lookout Mountain Preserve and Nature Center has charming hikes for families. Forest Loop Trail, a 0.6-mile walk, and The Meadow Loop, a 0.8-mile hike, won’t make you short of breath. At just 30 minutes each, both trails offer fresh air, stunning views and a close look at wildlife. Enjoy the Nature Center afterward for hands-on playrooms and interactive exhibits.
Red Rocks Park Trading Post Trail
Where: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison
Distance: 1.5 Miles
The Lowdown: Whether you live in Denver or just visiting for a weekend getaway, the 25-minute drive to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater should be on everyone’s to-do list, especially the hike. With a loop around the iconic warm-toned cliffs, views of the Mile High’s skyline, fresh mountain air and a 1.5-mile trip, the Trading Post Trail takes the cake for the best hike at Red Rocks Park. Start at the Trading Post gift shop for historical souvenirs and treats to fuel your body. Follow the path, and you’ll be back faster than you can say “Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.”
Admission to the park is free and opens an hour before sunrise.
1st/2nd Flatiron Trail in Boulder
Where: 50 Baseline Rd, Boulder
Distance: 2.6 Miles
The Lowdown: Just 45 minutes outside Denver, Boulder has some of the best trails for all levels. Adventurists looking for a challenge and a close look at cinnamon-colored mountains must visit the 1st/2nd Flatiron trail. The short loop starts at the Chautauqua Trailhead and includes a steep climb and several loose rocks. With a 1,450 ft. elevation gain, this hike up to the first and second flatirons may seem intimidating, but seeing these formations are worth it.
Garden of the Gods
Where: Colorado Springs
Distance: 0.5 – 2.5 Miles
The Lowdown: If you’re looking for a day trip with castle-like formations, short trails and rock climbing, Garden of the Gods is only an hour from Denver. There is no wrong choice with 5 hikes all under 5 miles at the park. Stroll through Gateway/Central Gardens Trails, challenge yourself with a 150-ft rise at the Siamese Twins Trail, or enjoy the leisurely loops and distant views of the sunset at the Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie Trail. Experience Central Garden cliffs in Colorado Springs, then if you’re feeling daring, take the climb. The Garden of the Gods entrance fee is always free.