Colorado and hiking are synonymous, from the state’s 53 peaks greater than 14,000 feet that challenge the most fit and aggressive, to easy strolls along well-maintained paths with breathtaking views in every direction. Here are four great trails to discover in the Rocky Mountains.
Grays and Torreys
This area near the towns of Georgetown and Idaho Springs offers a strenuous hike that starts at 11,259 feet of elevation and climbs to a top elevation of 14,270 feet on Grays Peak and 14,267 feet on Torrey Peak – two 14ers in one epic hike! There’s a short connecting strip joining the two peaks, which also happen to be the two highest points on the Continental Divide. It’s a rigorous full day climb that rewards hikers with spectacular unobstructed views of several glaciers and jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain scenery on an 8.35 mile roundtrip hike.
Crested Butte to Aspen
Possibly the most gorgeous wilderness area in the state, and certainly the most photographed, this hike winds through the Maroon Bells between two famed mountain towns taking hikers just over 10 miles and considered appropriate for those with moderate stamina. The west Maroon Creek Trail passes by Maroon and Crater Lakes, leading hikers over rocky trails and through narrow valleys that open up unexpectedly to vast wildflower meadows. Beginning at 10,417 feet in altitude, the trail climbs to 12,870 feet. It’s popular to hike it both directions, and reward your efforts with a tasty sip at Aspen Brewing Company.
Near the town of Estes Park and the historic Stanley Hotel (scene of the movie The Shining) this moderate to strenuous hike is 8.4 miles in length and leads to one of the state’s most isolated lakes, kicking off from the Long’s Peak Trail Head and climbing 1000 feet in elevation to 10,662 feet. The trail leads hikers below one of Colorado’s most-visited mountains, Long’s Peak. Fabulous scenery marks the way, and summer hikers can simply look up to see skilled rock climbers scrambling to the summit of Long’s Peak thousands of feet above the trail.
Mountain Lion Loop
Near the town of Golden (home of Coors Beer) the Mountain Lion Loop Trail offers a moderate hike of about 8 miles and a panoramic view of mountain wilderness beauty with every step. It’s less demanding physically than most Colorado trails, but still provides a climb of about 1350 feet in elevation from start to finish, ending as hikers reach the 9,106 foot summit of Windy Peak. Along the way, you’re likely to see wildlife as you pass through rolling evergreen strands and forests of Aspen trees.