The end of the year is still filled with sweater-weather days that inspire you to head for the hills. If you're up for a quick hiking trip that ends in fantastic scenery, here are ten options all within an hour of Denver:
Mount Bailey Trail
Moderate, .9 miles out and back
Few know about this out-and-back hike in Bailey that's under a mile, but it's ideal for anyone who wants to reap rewarding views, fast. Located next to a neighborhood park, the woodsy, rocky, zigzagging path can be a heart-pounder, but the final step takes you to a 360-degree view of the Rockies — you can see all the way to Pikes Peak — that’s gorgeous year-round. There’s a bench at the edge where you can take in the scenery and rest before the trek back down.
Green Mountain West Trail
Moderate, 4 miles out and back
This is one of the most popular trails in Boulder for a reason. It's a short hike, so the 360-degree views of Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak are a rewarding surprise. The trail is surrounded by many others in Boulder Open Space
, all worth your attention no matter the weather.
Bear Peak via Shanahan Ridge
Difficult, 5 miles out and back
With a 2,700-foot elevation gain, expect stunning views from the summit. The last mile is extremely steep, so some hikers may want to bring their poles and spikes as the trail gets icier. Keep in mind that this, too, is an incredibly popular trail, so hikers will want to arrive early to beat the crowds.
Enchanted Mesa and McClintock Nature Trails
Easy, 1.9-mile loop
While there isn't a standout, eye-popping moment, this trail is perfect for elderly or vertigo-prone hikers who want to take in spectacular landscapes while keeping the elevation low. The loop goes through both forests and open spaces that provide the opportunity to admire Boulder's famed Flatirons. As a bonus, it serves a less populated access trail if you decide to hike up the Flatirons
for a higher view.
Genesee Summit Trail
Easy, 1.2-mile loop
This hike is good for both families or a solo venture, and its length makes it a perfect sunrise or sunset hike. The short, steady trek provides expansive views of the foothills, which will only be more beautiful after a snowfall. As one reviewer on AllTrails put it: "Almost felt like I was cheating as views like this in [Washington] take hours to obtain."
Chief Mountain Trail
Moderate, 2.8 miles out and back
This trail is a snowshoeing favorite, but the views are rewarding throughout the year. A trek through the pines of Arapaho National Forest leads you to a 360-degree view that includes Pikes and Longs peaks. The climb is fairly steep, so be sure to pack lots of water as well as layers for a well-deserved rest at the top.
Eagle's View Trail Loop
Moderate, 4.2-mile loop
Voted the best year-round hike
by Westword readers
in 2020, Eagle's View is a workout, but well worth it. The hike to the summit is up a steep slope (and mostly through forest, so remember your layers), but at the top you'll be greeted by the north face of Pikes Peak and surrounding mountain ranges.
Maxwell Falls Bluffs Cliffside Trail Loop
Moderate, 5.4-mile loop
Maxwell Falls offers a variety of trails, but the Cliffside Trail Loop is a definite winner. This hike through the woods offers views that are beautiful in both the sun and the snow. There are plenty of boulders where you can rest while soaking up the view; some hot toddies in your pack could add to your appreciation of the scenery.
Red Rocks Trading Post Trail
Easy, 1.5-mile loop
The otherworldly red rocks in the foothills around Morrison always impress natives and tourists alike. While this hike is popular in the spring, when wildflowers are blooming, it's less crowded at this time of year, which makes for a peaceful stroll or snowshoe through rolling hills that provide views of Red Rocks Amphitheatre
and other geological wonders. There are plenty of connecting hikes nearby, including the Dakota Ridge Trail
, the Mount Falcon Castle Trail Loop
and Dinosaur Ridge
Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park
Easy to moderate, multiple trails
The well-maintained trails in this park range from 1.3 to 7 miles, and each offers mountain vistas, forested areas and open space. Alderfer Three Sisters is the perfect place to take friends or family members who may be impaired by vertigo or have walking issues; there are trails for all skill levels that don't involve high climbs or cavernous drops, but always provide rewarding landscape views.