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Top Five Hikes Near Denver


If the city is stifling your inner hiker, head out of town for these five hikes within a short drive of Denver. The terrain ranges from paved trails to rugged climbs, but all make for scenic day hikes. All hikes listed below are moderate in nature, and no fourteeners are included on this list.

1. Castlewood Canyon State Park

Castlewood Canyon
Castlewood Canyon is located south of Denver off S. Parker Rd. near Franktown. Most of the trails are less than two miles, but hikers can combine loops to make for a longer hike. The Creek Bottom trail pictured at right winds along Cherry Creek, and connects to the Dam Ruins trail for a view of the now-defunct Castlewood Dam.


Castlewood Canyon State Park
Hours: Varies by season
Cost in 2013: $7 daily park pass (per vehicle)

2. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon is located west of Denver off Highway 93. The trails vary in length from less than a mile to over six miles. A good moderate trail is the Horseshoe Trail at 1.8 miles, which takes you through Frazer Meadow for prime wildflower viewing in the spring and summer months.


Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Hours: 5 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Cost in 2013: $7 daily park pass (per vehicle)

3. Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park is located northwest of Denver near Estes Park. The trail at photogenic Bear Lake is a paved 0.6 mile loop. From the Bear Lake trail head, hikers can continue to Dream Lake (1 mile) and Nymph Lake (2.2 miles.) A free shuttle bus runs from the parking lot to the Bear Lake trailhead during the summer. Dogs are not allowed on trails.


Rocky Mountain National Park
Cost in 2013: $20 weekly park pass (per vehicle)

4. Matthews/Winters Park

Matthews/Winters Park is located west of Denver off I-70. The Red Rocks trail at a moderate 2.8 miles features views of adjoining Red Rocks Park. The Village Walk trail at .9 miles goes past old gravestones from the historical site of Mt. Vernon town.


Matthews/Winters Park
Cost: Free

5. Chatauqua Park

Chataqua Park
Chatauqua Park in Boulder provides an unparalleled view of the Flatirons mountains. Hikes range from less than a mile to more than six miles for all ability levels. Most hikers start on the Chatauqua trail, and then take one of the the three Flatirons trails. The only downside to Chatauqua is that the park gets pretty crowded on the weekends.

Chatauqua Park
Cost: Free

For a little extra motivation to lace up those hiking boots, visit 5 Reasons Why You Should Go Hiking and 10 Tips for Responsible Hiking.

All photos © 2008 - 2013 Nina Snyder licensed to About.com, Inc.

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