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Hiking in Colorado

By Edited Jun 9, 2014 5 17

Colorado is one of the most scenic states in the United States. Practically anywhere you go within Colorado, you will find hiking trails. Thousands of people use the hiking trials around the state on a daily basis. There are several hiking trails in my backyard, and I only live on the outskirts of Denver!

Best Hiking Trails

My favorite hiking trails are located in the southwest part of the state, near Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride. The mountains in that area are much more rugged than the rest of the state, and appear to be more scenic as well. I highly recommend everyone to visit the mountains in southwest Colorado.

Trails.com is an excellent resource for trail ratings and information. Check out their user reviewed list of the best hiking trails in Colorado. I had a membership to that site for a couple of years and I learned a lot about hiking in Colorado. You are able to download anything you are looking for in related to hiking trails, such as trail descriptions, reviews, and topographical maps.

Hiking in the Mountains

The 14ers

There are 53 14ers in Colorado. A 14er is a mountain whose peak elevation is at or above 14,000 ft. Many people have taken on the challenge to hike to the top of each of these mountains. While that is a great accomplishment, it can be dangerous, as some mountain trails are much more difficult and less well-defined than others. For more information about these mountains, check out 14ers.com.

Hiking Considerations

Hiking is a fun and rewording experience for many people and their families, however, you should be aware there are some considerations your should know about.

Best Time of Day To Go Hiking

I once learned the hard way that hiking in the afternoon in the Colorado mountains is not always a good idea. I was hiking with my family near Ouray one afternoon and we were nearing the top elevation of the trail. While the trail was still below tree line, a thunderstorm quickly approached from the west. We took shelter in an old mining cabin nearby.

The weather is Colorado, and especially in the mountains, can be very unpredictable and can change at a moment's notice. The weather for hiking is best in the morning and early afternoon. When planning your hike, it is a good idea to be aware of weather forecasts for the area and to leave early in the morning. If you are ever hiking above tree line, be especially cautious and look out for incoming thunderstorms. Lightning in Colorado is very dangerous!


The equipment required for hiking depends on the difficulty of the trail, the time of the year, and the length of the trail. The basic needs for a short hike are comfortable walking shoes or boots, extra water, and a map. I highly recommend extra water on any hiking trip. You will thank me for that later.

Longer hiking trips require more equipment, and depending on the duration, you might need a good-sized backpack with you. For a day hike, which is a hike that can be completed within the confines of a single day, you will need the same things as a short hike, plus extra food, clothes, a first aid kit, and sunscreen. Sunscreen is essential because the sun can cause burns faster at higher altitude, due to the thinner air and higher elevation.

A good list of items for hiking can be found at the Ten Essentials for Hiking on Wikipedia.


Many hiking environments are fragile, especially the ones at higher altitude. It is always a good idea to practice Leave No Trace when hiking in the Colorado mountains. The important message behind the concept of Leave No Trace is to leave the scene as if you were never there. Whenever I am hiking in the mountains, I am there to enjoy myself and the scenery. I am bothered when someone leaves behind a piece of trash. If enough people do this, it will destroy the fragile alpine environment and the forest service will end up closing the trail. If you see any trash left behind on the trail, pick it up, even if it was left by someone else.


Have a great time hiking and remember some of the considerations I have mentioned above when you are out there. Enjoy Colorado!



Apr 28, 2011 8:21am
Your article on "Hiking in Colorado" is very interesting, and makes one want to hike the glorious mountains of your state. Thanks for sharing.
Apr 28, 2011 2:57pm
Been there done that. I lived up in Georgetown and one of my favorite places in the country after living in 38 states is Saint Mary's Glacier.
Excellent place to ski in July. No lifts though. 70 degrees and a snow covered mountain, wild.
On a darker note Denver stinks. Lived there for two years as well and would never go back.
Cool article. Thumbs up from me!!
Apr 28, 2011 4:39pm
Georgetown is a great place, but I imagine the cost of living is high there. I'm actually about halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs, which is kind of out in the country, so that's much nicer than living in the city.
Apr 29, 2011 9:39am
Really beautiful!
May 2, 2011 12:17pm
I love hiking up Ashcroft Ghost Town (see my article), and it's nice to read another Colorado hiker who loves it here....great article and photos.
May 2, 2011 4:06pm
Thanks! I'll be doing some hiking this summer, so there are more articles and photos to come on the subject.
May 3, 2011 5:28pm
your article is full with great ideas and better informative tips about hiking.
i am planning to take hiking as part of my vacation and part time sports...good info keep it up
May 5, 2011 6:52pm
Colorado really is beautiful....Thank you for a good read....I was an avid hiker and still enjoy!
May 8, 2011 4:53pm
Great article. I'm more of a snowboarder, so I tend to forget that these mountains exist the other six months out of the year. Maybe I will dust off my hiking boots now!
May 8, 2011 6:44pm
Nice article. I'm moving back to Colorado and can't wait to make it back up to the mountains. The mountains in Southern Colorado are definitely my favorite. I just wish they weren't so far away from everything!
May 12, 2011 1:53pm
I used to live on that side of the state and would visit that area every chance I got.
May 11, 2011 8:35pm
Beautiful country and great trout fishing. I can't wait until my kids are old enough to vacation out there.
May 18, 2011 2:31pm
grew up in Colorado around the Delta-Montrose area so quite familiar with the areas about which you wrote. I love hiking in the mountains of Colorado. I did a lot of hiking in the Colorado Springs area as well. Another good place to fish and hike is Grand Mesa. Lots of lakes and trails.
May 18, 2011 7:38pm
I love Colorado. Lived here all my life. If you are going to climb a 14ner climb snuffles. It is the best one :)
May 20, 2011 7:10am
Sounds great!
May 25, 2011 10:35pm
This comment has been deleted.
Oct 1, 2012 12:19pm
Hi--Loved the article but let me share why--I spent most of my teenage and early adulthood hiking the rcoky mountain in Colorado. My home town is Colorado Springs which I haven't seen for over 40 years. I even claimbed the Peak more than once.
Those days going up the Pass or driving the old Corley Mountain Road to reach the mountains and the start those long hikes will always be cherished by me so thanks for bringing them back. You get TWO gigantic thumbs up
Oct 26, 2012 8:41pm
Awesome article! I used to live in Aruora and loved going into the mountains. there are so many places to go up there and they are all beautiful! Thank you for helping me remember all of those great places like pikes peak, garden of the gods, black hawk, and bolder to name a few.
-Money Urge.
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