Best Hiking Trails In Colorado – Colorado’s West Slope is full of backcountry hikes. Knowing where to find them and what to expect on a trail just got easier with a new guide from Grand Junction outdoor writer Bill Hagerty. “Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope” in Falcon Guides details more than 45 trails in western Colorado.
It does not have default path descriptions. Haggerty includes historical facts, geographic information, suitability for dogs, and observations gleaned from hiking in Colorado. His descriptions of the trails capture the joy he finds in hiking—sentiments echoed in the book’s preface:
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“I love hiking in western Colorado for the crisp mountain and desert air, the soft murmur of high mountain streams, and the vibrant colors of desert wildflowers in spring. rain, dilated pupils, itchy skin, all senses alive, the sense of wonder provided by Mother Nature. Contributing.”
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“Yes, writing about the great outdoors has been an issue since I did my first Black Canyon column in 1976. I’ve really struggled with it over the years,” she said. “But my main problem is that if you don’t write about it, if you don’t let people know, if they don’t understand what they have, it will be ignored and exploited. Someone will take it and walk away. . Far from us.”
“When I first wrote about Black Canyon, they were thinking of destroying another one under the canyon and flooding one of the most beautiful places in the world,” he said. I couldn’t stand how it happened… Now I dragged millions of hikers into the forest for this? You know I went back to Black Canyon last year, I went there two weeks ago. There’s nobody there. I was still the only one there. So I don’t think I’m over it. “
Haggerty’s book comes on the heels of the launch of the Colorado Trail Explorer, a complete online map of trails across the state. This online resource is part of Governor John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative. Explorer maps include over 39,000 miles of trails across the state, including urban trails and hiking, biking, and motorized trails in state parks and federal lands.
Storm King Fourteen Memorial Hike: This approximately four-mile trail takes hikers through rough and uncomfortable terrain to the site where fourteen firefighters died in a 1994 fire. Not the prettiest hike in the book. Parts actually border I-70, but it’s an important walk to remember firefighters who lost their lives.
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Mee Canyon: This 5.5 mile trail is one of the most exhilarating hikes in the desert with arches, windows, pinnacles and alcoves. It is not for the inexperienced, as the sandstone has steep slopes and exposed walls. Crawl and Flicker is recommended for intrepid hikers who want to see one of the largest natural alcoves in the Colorado Plateau.
Ice Lakes Trail: “Simply amazing,” explains Haggerty. This San Juan Mountains round-trip hike ranges from 6.8 to 8.6 miles, depending on how many lakes you visit. A steep climb into the turquoise waters takes hikers past half a dozen waterfalls that rise from small glaciers and ice caps on massive granite hills. Five peaks over 13,000 reach the sky and fields are covered in wildflowers in season.
Blue Lakes Trail: “Awesome” is Haggerty’s word for this 6.6- to 8.7-mile round-trip trail in the San Juan Mountains. The steep trail ascends to three alpine lakes in the shadow of Mount Sneffels, Dallas and Gilpin peaks. Haggerty urges hikers to tread lightly on this trail and frozen lakes due to its popularity.
Sand Canyon: This trail at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a 6.5-mile round-trip hike that passes through some of the richest ancient ruins in the Puebloan. Cave houses can be seen facing the cliffs along the way. The Sand Canyon Pueblo on the Upper Trail is three times the size of the largest pueblo in Mesa Verde National Park. It was excavated and filled in in the past, so it’s mostly piles of rubble, but the impressive scale of the pueblo is still carved into the rock.
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O-B-Joyful: This relatively easy trail at the top of Crested Butte is a summer wildflower paradise. A 9 mile round trip hike to one of Colorado’s 150 lakes called Blue Lake. The street got its name because miners used to happily run along the road to the city’s brothels.
Monument Canyon Trail: This Colorado National Monument trail passes the monument’s iconic sculptures on the Grand Junction waterfront: the kissing couple, the Independence Monument, and the coke ovens. Haggerty recommends leaving a vehicle at each end of the 6-mile hike. Not in the book, there are corkscrew trails and liberty caps near and beside the monument. A three-mile climb through Corkscrew Canyon. Liberty Cap – a local favorite – is a stone “cap” with three access points. These hikes range from two to seven miles in length and have steep sections to start with.
Ute Park and Bobcat Trails: These two trails in Gunnison’s Black Canyon near Montrose are challenging but offer some of the most stunning scenery in the state. The reward for reaching the Gunnison River at the base of the canyon is excellent fly fishing, rock climbing, white water rafting and incredible geology. The park spans 9 miles in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Bobcat is 2.2 miles long and very steep in places with a rope to help hikers.
Powderhorn Lakes: This trail is an 8-10 mile loop in the Powderhorn Wilderness Area near Lake City. It takes hikers through the longest uninterrupted stretch of alpine tundra in the country. It culminates in the pristine lakes below Cannibal Plateau, site of cannibal Alfred Packer’s infamous meals.
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This trail near Pagosa Springs is the place to find the otters that were released here in the 1970s and 1980s. The trail is 9.5 miles round trip and the first two miles are easy before a moderate climb. The trail ascends through beautiful ponderosa pines, poplars, wild roses and oaks before reaching the confluence of Sand Creek and the Piedra River. Colorado is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and the perfect getaway destination. With four national parks, eight national monuments and 42 state parks, Colorado offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.
A short drive away, you can visit Colorado’s otherworldly deserts on the western slopes, alpine lakes in the Rocky Mountains, and the vast expanses of Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
From soaring peaks to rafting down rushing rivers and mountain biking through wildflower meadows, a road trip in Colorado can be full of adventure.
Important reminder: As with all the destinations we share, practice good trail etiquette and remember not to leave any traces. That means packing up all your trash (including toilet paper), respecting others on busy sidewalks, and following established rules.
Of The Best Colorado Hikes To Mounatin Lakes
Located in north central Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is an incredible place to experience wildlife, capture glacier-carved landscapes and embark on epic hikes and outdoor adventures. With over 60 peaks over 12,000 feet and over 150 alpine lakes, this park makes a great stop on any trip to Colorado.
I spent 10 days in Rocky Mountain National Park and explored some great day hikes including the amazing Chasm Lake Trail and the short but beautiful Emerald Lake Trail. Use our beginner’s guide for helpful tips, including where to camp and what gear to bring, to help you plan your Rocky Mountain National Park adventure.
Crested Butte, Colorado is a small, adventurous town nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In the winter, Crested Butte is a winter playground, but in the summer and fall months it’s a wonderful stop for mountain biking, wild camping, hiking and fishing.
For mountain bike enthusiasts, Evolution Bike Park is a great place to spend a weekend or head to the 401 trail at Dr. It’s a great place to go to the park or for a relaxing cross-country ride.
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For hiking, the Scarp Ridge Loop is fantastic. Walk along a hill with spectacular views of O Be Joyful Valley and Peeler Bay. It is especially beautiful in autumn, when the aspen leaves turn golden.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. Beneath the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the dunes are set against a backdrop of soaring, often snow-capped peaks, creating one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in Colorado.
For outdoor adventurers, sandboarding and sand sledding are popular activities. climb to the top of
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