By Kristen Lotze
Winter is coming – sooner than you think. But while the warm weather is still here, now is the time to get outdoors on one of Colorado’s great hiking trails.
And if you want to save yourself some time and mileage, Ryan Campbell has you covered. The affiliate faculty member in MSU Denver’s Recreation Professions Program suggests five fantastic trails within an hour’s drive of Denver.
With a huge network of trails to choose from, amazing views of the Colorado Front Range and an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet for cardio lovers, the Flatirons offer everything you’re looking for in a hiking area. They're only about a 40-minute drive from Denver, so they can become your new favorite nearby getaway.
2. Castlewood Canyon State Park
One of the lesser-known gems hidden in the Eastern Plains, Castlewood Canyon State Park boasts a great network of trails and loops that can be combined to make the hike anywhere from one mile to more than eight miles. You also have the option to hike along Cherry Creek or adjacent to the canyon rim. And if you buy an annual State Park Pass, admission is free ($7 without a pass).
3. Devil’s Head Fire Tower
Don’t let the name scare you; it’s a lot prettier and much less ominous than it sounds. While this trail is close to Denver, it will feel like you’re a world away, deep in the mountains. The first lookout offers views that span from the Front Range to Pikes Peak. And if you want to make a weekend of it, there’s also free camping nearby.
4. Staunton State Park
This state park is home to the highest waterfall near Denver: Elk Falls. It also has a great variety of trails, which weave around impressive rock formations. There’s also an option to mountain bike on the trail if that’s more your speed. As with Castlewood Canyon State Park, an annual State Park Pass will get you free admission ($7 without a pass).
5. Alderfer/Three Sisters Park
Only a 45-minute drive from Denver, this hiking site has several shaded trails and mountain biking options, and it’s just a stone’s throw from Evergreen Lake – a great spot to finish out the day.
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