13 Best Fall Hikes Near Denver CO (2023)

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As leaves transform and the air crispens, now is an excellent time to explore Denver’s natural surroundings. Colorado boasts beautiful natural vistas that come alive with vibrant fall hues. Fall hikes near Denver, in particular, boast majestic mountains and picturesque lakes that come alive during this magical season. 

Hiking trails near Denver provide memorable fall experiences. Whether you’re a pro hiker or looking for a leisurely stroll, any hike you choose will surely leave a lasting impression.

Here are some of the best fall hikes near Denver for fall colors to help you get started!

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Best Fall Hikes Near Denver CO

St. Mary’s Glacier, Idaho Springs

🥾 2.4 miles, moderate

blue lake at the bottom of a glacier in the mountains.

St. Mary’s Glacier is a beautiful fall hike situated near Idaho Springs. It’s a quick trail that won’t take you more than 2 hours to complete. If you climb all the way to the top, it’s 1.5 miles, but those looking for a shorter round trip can stop at the lake and turn around for a total distance of 1 mile instead. 

This hike is located 36 miles away from Denver, but the actual road distance is 45 miles, so you can expect to travel almost an hour to get to this trail. 

Idaho Springs offers some of the most breathtaking fall colors anywhere, as its aspens turn a brilliant gold, creating breathtaking mountainside displays. This makes a hike to St. Mary’s Glacier one of the most unique outdoor experiences you will have.

Silver Dollar Lake Trail

🥾 4.1 miles, moderate

Bright blue lake in the valley at the bottom of a mountain range.

The Silver Dollar Lake & Murray Lake Trail is 13 miles from Denver via Guanella Pass Rd and Geneva Rd. The 4.1-mile hike is considered moderately challenging, taking over 2 hours to complete on average. While you’re there, you’ll see Naylor Lake, Murray Lake, and Silver Dollar Lake, which are all strikingly beautiful in the fall. 

You’ll find this trail along a dirt road accessible by Guanella Pass Road. There are also plenty more hikes nearby and places to climb and camp for an extended adventure. 

Silver Dollar Lake & Murray Lake is an awesome fall hike purely because of the vibrant fall colors you’ll see along the way. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the autumn leaves falling down as you walk along the trail and take in the views.

Black Bear and Horseshoe Loop

🥾 6 miles, moderate

The Black Bear and Horseshoe Loop totals 6 miles near Colorado’s Center City. It’s just about 20 miles out from Denver, making it a perfect day trip. 

Be prepared to spot wildlife during your hike on this trail. Visitors have reported seeing small to large wildlife, including moose, elk, and deer. As the name of the trail suggests, you may even spot a black bear! 

Fall is one of the best times to visit the Golden Gate Canyon State Park in general. At this time, the colors of the trees are truly remarkable. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to camp on the park grounds, so if you’re traveling to Denver or looking to extend your adventure overnight, this is the perfect place to do it! Just be sure to contact the park service online to reserve your spot ahead of time if you’re planning this type of outing. 

We recommend layering your clothes and bringing lots of food and water. Keep in mind you’ll need a park pass to enter, and there will be designated areas for both hiking and camping that you must adhere to.

Butler Gulch Trail

🥾 5.5 miles, moderate

Rocks leading to a grassy field at the bottom of a the mountains.

The Butler Gulch Trail sits approximately 50 miles outside Denver. This accessible trail passes through the beautiful Guanella Pass with spectacular mountain views and forests, making it a unique first-time experience and must-see attraction for all Denver visitors! 

You can expect to trek through a variety of meadows and creeks for an interesting hiking experience. The trail is about 5.5 miles out and back, making it one of the longer hikes on this list, and we would describe it as moderately challenging. 

The main reason we put this trail on our list is Guanella Pass’s fall foliage. You’ll immediately notice vibrant hues along the mountainside as you take in the fresh air.

Butler Gulch Trail provides you with the chance to immerse yourself in this natural splendor for an unforgettable fall hiking experience you truly can’t get anywhere else!

Seven Bridges Trail

🥾 3.5 miles, moderate

This trail can be found 77 miles outside Denver in Seven Bridges Park. The Seven Bridges Trail is one of the most unique hiking experiences you can find in the area. 

It’s a moderate trail covering 3.5 miles round trip and passing through plenty of dense, forested areas you can explore. The best feature of this area is its seven picturesque bridges that cross over babbling creeks. 

Offering peace and serenity alike, it makes this walk perfect for nature enthusiasts of all kinds, especially during the fall when the weather is perfect, and you’re surrounded by the most beautiful scenery the state of Colorado has to offer. 

To explore the bridges, scenic overlooks, and mountain streams, this hike has waiting for you; we recommend parking in Lot 18 or near Helen Hunt Falls for the easiest access to the trail.

Kenosha Pass Trail

🥾 11.5 miles, moderate

Fall colored trees in a field leading towards rocky mountains.

Kenosha Pass is ideal for leaf peeping hikes near Denver, located 65 miles outside the city. It’s an intersection of the larger Colorado trail, which stretches 500 miles from Denver to Durango.

This particular trail can take over 5 hours to complete on average, so make sure you have sufficient time to finish the hike before it gets dark. 

In total, it’s 11.5 miles round trip, and can get pretty challenging at times, but the reward of being surrounded by beautiful aspen trees in every direction is worth it! For an unforgettable fall hike, we recommend visiting this trail between September and early October.

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    Meridian Trail

    🥾 9 miles, moderate

    Situated 52.5 miles northwest of Denver via US Hwy 285 N, the Meridian Trail spans 9 miles round trip and boasts an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet, offering outdoor enthusiasts a satisfying challenge.

    Fall is the best season to experience this moderately tricky hike as its breathtaking display of autumn colors emerges. 

    Plan for at least five hours on this adventure and allow plenty of time for reflection during your hike. Open area camping is also available nearby, giving you the opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty of the season!

    Emerald Lake Trail

    🥾 3.2 miles, moderate

    Sun reflecting off of some rocky mountains with a lake at the bottom.

    Situated within Rocky Mountain National Park, the Emerald Lake Trail is worth making the 77.1-mile drive from Denver.

    Boasting just over 3 miles with an elevation gain of 702 feet and breathtaking fall scenery that makes for a captivating hike, its draw lies in its moderate length of just over 3 miles – not to mention fishing and hiking opportunities along the way! 

    Rocky Mountain National Park charges an entrance fee for all guests, so plan ahead before you travel. To beat crowds, arrive before 8 am as this trail gets busy after 11 am!

    Bear Creek Trail

    🥾 4.5 miles, moderate

    Small lake in a field on a sunny day.

    The Bear Creek Trail is found in the Bear Creek Preserve. It provides an accessible escape 75 miles west of Denver. At 4.5 miles and an elevation gain of 1,092 feet, it’s an accessible challenge suitable for all skill levels, and dog owners are welcome to bring their pets on a leash! 

    This versatile trail also caters to camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, snowshoeing, walking, running, and exploring forest and river areas. Bear Creek Trail is perfect for day trips or weekend getaway adventures from Denver, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing!

    Ben Tyler Trail

    🥾 11.8 miles, hard

    For those searching for an extended and more challenging hike, Shawnee, Colorado’s Ben Tyler Trail provides an ideal option just 50 miles west of Colorado Springs. With 11.8 miles in total, this trail presents a formidable challenge that pays off in breathtaking views. 

    Previous hikers have reported it as difficult after 3 miles when its slope becomes increasingly steep. For optimal success on this trail, wear shoes with spikes and make sure you have all necessary equipment.

    On average, it takes 6 hours and 57 minutes to complete this hike.

    Caribou Ranch Loop

    🥾 4.8 miles, easy

    Just 50 miles outside Denver lies Caribou Ranch Loop, an accessible yet scenic escape that spans 4.8 miles with an elevation gain of 433 feet, perfect for hikers of all skill levels.

    The loop trail winds through stunning landscapes, offering ample chances to spot wildlife along your journey.

    Many travelers have reported sightings of moose and other local species, adding an exciting element to your hike! Note that the Caribou Ranch Loop trail is closed from April 1 through June 30 each year but reopens on July 1, providing the ideal time for fall foliage adventures in September or November.

    Elk Falls & Chimney Rock Trail

    🥾 14.5 miles, hard

    Situated 40 miles southwest of Denver in Staunton State Park, the Elk Falls and Chimney Rock Trail provide outdoor enthusiasts with a rewarding adventure. Spanning 14.5 miles in total, this challenging out-and-back trail showcases the natural beauty of its setting. 

    Although an entry fee applies for all visitors to enter this park, its majestic views and varied landscapes of autumn-colored aspen trees more than make up for it!

    First & Second Flatirons Loop

    🥾 2.8 miles, moderate

    Large yellow and green trees in front of the Flatiron Mountains.

    First and Second Flatirons Loop Trail near Boulder, Colorado, offers an exceptional hiking experience 30 miles from Denver.

    Boasting an elevation gain of 1,479 feet and light climbing throughout certain sections, this 2.8-mile loop is ideal for those seeking an active yet scenic hiking adventure while taking advantage of dog-friendly amenities. 

    To avoid crowds, try to arrive early as this popular trail tends to become busier as time progresses. The unforgettable panoramic views of yellow and orange leaves from the top of the Flatirons makes their efforts more than worthwhile.

    Our advice is to keep going after you reach the first flatiron, the best views are waiting for you at the second!

    Final Thoughts: Best Fall Hikes Near Denver

    From Meridian Trail to First and Second Flatiron Loop, all of these routes provide stunning scenery and unforgettable experiences. No matter which hike you choose, the best fall hikes near Denver promise an adventure filled with natural splendors that you will always remember! 

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