Skip to Content

15 Best Hikes in Colorado

Ready to discover the best hikes in Colorado? Colorado is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers alike. We spend much of our summer exploring Colorado’s breathtaking landscape while bagging peaks along the way.

We’re sharing our favorite hikes that we’ve done in Colorado that will leave you awe-inspired. Lace up your boots, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and get ready to discover some of the most epic hiking experiences that Colorado has to offer.

If you’re in search of challenging hikes that lead through dense forests, past alpine lakes, to panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, then this Best Hikes Colorado blog is for you.

1. The Loch Vale, Glass Lake, Sky Pond, Lake Haiyaha, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Distance and elevation gain: 12.5 miles, 2400 ft. gain
Start and end Trailheads: Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Bear Lake Trailhead

Call us crazy but we combined Alberta Falls, The Loch, Sky Pond, Lake Haiyaha, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake all into one epic day hike.

While there are some steep sections, overall this was a moderate day of hiking with incredible views of alpine lakes, forest, streams, and the towering Long’s Peak following us along the way.

2. Tenmile Peaks Traverse

Distance and elevation gain: 21 miles, 7,732 ft gain
Start and End Trailheads: Temple Trail to Breckenridge

The Tenmile Traverse is no joke. It’s the QUEEN of all hikes in Summit County. With sheer knife-edge ridges with 3,000 foot drops on either side and a few sections of class 3 and 4 scrambling, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart.

It starts in Frisco and climbs up Peak 1 then goes across all 10 peaks that sit above Breckenridge. It’s a long hard day of hiking and scrambling along peaks 3 and 4. If you aren’t afraid of heights, it’s an epic must-do hike in Colorado.

Many people, including us, stop traversing when they hit Peak 8 in Breckenridge and then make their way down to the resort and hop on a bus.

3. Eccles Pass + Red Buffalo Pass

Distance and elevation gain: 13.5 miles, 3,500 ft gain
Start and End Trailheads: Meadow Creek Trailhead to Gore Creek Trailhead

The Frisco to Vail hike is an absolute gem! At 13.5 miles and 3500 feet of elevation gain, it’s certainly no easy hike but the incredible views throughout the entire hike make it worth it.

Eccles Pass and Red Buffalo Pass are absolutely stunning!

I recommend hiking it from Frisco to Vail so that you get a nice, easy descent from the two passes down into Vail.

Don’t have time or the energy to do such a long hike or the ability to shuttle? You can hike this as an out-and-back from Meadow Creek Trailhead or hike up Buffalo Mountain from Silverthrorne, which also provides amazing views of Eccles Pass.

Distance and elevation gain: 13.5 miles, 3,687 ft gain
Start and End Trailheads:  Gold Hill Trailhead to Section 8 Trailhead

While the entire Colorado Trail would be an amazing backpacking trip, we prefer epic day hikes, followed by a brewery and a soft bed. Hiking just section 7 of the Colorado Trail was just that!

The incredibly steep ascent for more than half the hike made it quite strenuous but arriving at a col with a 360-degree views of the Summit County was worth every step!

5. Independence Pass Ridgeline

Distance and elevation gain: 4.7 miles, 1,197 ft gain
Start & End:  Independence Pass Overlook

14ers are rad but 13ers don’t get nearly enough credit. Independence Pass Ridgeline is a stunning 13er that starts from the top of Independence Pass making this hike only a short 1,000-foot ascent to bag Mountain Boy Peak.

This hike is a hidden gem and if you’re brave enough to walk along sheer ridges and scramble over some boulders, you’ll be rewarded with insane views of huge mountains in all directions.

6. Grays Peak

Distance and elevation gain:  7.4 miles, 3,031 ft gain
Start and End:  Grays Peak Trailhead (although I recommend doing it the way we did it from the South)

In August of 2018, we tackled our first 14er, Grays Peak. This is one of the most popular 14ers in Colorado due to its proximity to Denver. Instead of hiking the crowded North Slopes, we opted for a more secluded ascent up the South Ridge which our rad Native Colorado friends took us to. The experience was amazing and adrenaline-rushing.

Check out the awesome scrambling, beautiful views, and of course, mishaps, in the video.

7. Quandary Peak

Distance and elevation gain:  6.3 miles, 3,333 ft gain
Start and End:  Quandary Peak Trailhead

One of the greatest adventures of our life. Instead of hiking the popular 14er, Quandary Peak, with swarms of crowds, we decided to start the hike at 4 am to watch the sunrise from the top. Good times!

8. Maroon Bells 4 Pass Loop

Distance and elevation gain:  25.7 miles, 7,752 ft gain 2,444
Start and End: Maroon Bells Trailhead

While most choose to do this epic 26-mile hike as a backpacking trip, you could do this in one long day if you start early and hike fast or trail run parts of it. This is a popular option now since getting a permit to backpack the Four Pass Loop is so hard.

Read our blog for details on permits and backpacking.

Maroon Bells hike, travel, adventure kids, Colorado

9. Zirkel Circle, Steamboat Springs

Distance and elevation gain:  10.6 miles, 2,444 ft gain
Start & End: Slavonia Trailhead

The Zirkel Circle isn’t nearly as strenuous as the hikes above but it is still a gorgeous hike. We recommend doing the loop counterclockwise for the best views of the lake as you go over the pass.

10. Mount Sneffels

Distance and elevation gain: 13.4 miles, 5,500 ft gain
Start & End: Blue Lakes Trailhead

If I had to pick my #1 best hike in Colorado, this would be the one. Most choose to do Mt Sneffels via Blue Lakes but we did it from Yankee Boy Basin, which requires 4wd and high clearance to get to. Doing it from Blue Lakes Trailhead is longer but safer in my opinion. The Yankee Boy approach is up a steep scree slope and the rock fall can feel unnerving.

If summiting a peak isn’t your thing, the hike to Blue Lakes is amazing and much easier. If you do this hike, be sure to hike up at least up above the first lakes to see the view and gorgeous turquoise water.

11. Island Lake & Ice Lake with Bonus: Grant Peak

Distance and elevation gain: 6.9 miles, 2,650 ft gain
Start & End: Ice Lakes Trailhead

Hiking to Island Lake via Ice Lake Trail is no doubt one of the best hikes in Colorado. The gorgeous turquoise color of these lakes with the orange hues of rocks surrounding them makes this an unforgettable hike that you need to explore.

If you’re looking for an extra challenge, continue on past Island Lake to summit the 13er Grant Peak. We 10/10 recommend!

12. Mount Elbert

Distance and elevation gain: 9.8 miles, 4,458 ft gain
Start & End: Mount Elbert Trailhead

This is one of the easiest 14ers to do in Colorado. Our youngest, Tatiana, did it when she was only 11 and really enjoyed it (especially getting to glissade down the snow).

View from the top of Elbert Peak

13. Sneffels Highline & Deep Creek Loop

Distance and elevation gain:  1.6 miles, 528 ft gain
Start & End: Jud Wiebe Memorial Trail

The Sneffels Highline trail starts from the center of town in Telluride. Not to be confused with summiting Mount Sneffels, this hike is long but much easier than that hike. It’s similar to the Eccles and Buffalo Pass hike with beautiful meadows and panoramic views.

14. St Mary’s Glacier

Distance and elevation gain:  1.6 miles, 528 ft gain
Start & End: St Mary’s Glacier Trailhead

St Mary’s Glacier might not be the best hike in Colorado but it is a beautiful and best of all, everyone can do it.

St Mary's Glacier, Colorado, best hikes for young kids

15. Manitou Incline

Distance and elevation gain:  10.6 miles, 2,444 ft gain
Start & End:

Manitou Incline is pure torture which is why it’s on the list.

kids hiking manitou incline

Get Our FREE Fit To Hike Fitness Program & Bag More Colorado Peaks!

Tackle the best hikes in Colorado with our free Fit To Hike workout program

Related Colorado Blogs

Pin The Best Hikes in Colorado To Your Travel Board:

What type of Adventure Traveler are YOU? Take our quiz and find out.

Get more inspiration to #defythenorm and #braveforadventure when you join our email list. Plus, you’ll get instant access to our printable pack lists, gear and trail guides, and travel ebooks.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.