14 Otherworldly Lake Hikes Near Denver (2023)

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Denver is known for its breathtaking landscapes and proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Hikers in this outdoor haven can discover stunning alpine lakes that are perfect for exploring nature on foot. No matter your preference, there are plenty of beautiful lake hikes near Denver to suit everyone. 

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at 15 lake hikes near Denver, giving full details about each trail, including its distance from Denver, length, difficulty level, fascinating features, and tips to enhance your hiking experience.

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While public transportation is alright in Denver, it’s truly easiest to get around by car. (Trust us, we didn’t have a car our first year living there… not fun!)

Lake Hikes Near Denver

Jasper Lake Trail

🥾 9.8 miles, moderate

Within just 50 miles from Denver lies the Jasper Lake Trail, a moderate yet rewarding hike spanning approximately 9.8 miles that offers unparalleled nature immersion. Follow its course to captivating Jasper Lake, nestled amidst wildflowers and towering peaks, for an unforgettable scenic adventure! 

Backpacking, fishing, and camping are some popular activities to enjoy along this trail. Be prepared to see plenty of other people as you explore since this is a popular trail! 

Lost Lake via Hessie Trail

🥾 4 miles, moderate

Lake surrounded by mountains.

Lost Lake via Hessie Trail can be reached within an hour’s drive from Denver. Offering a beautiful four-mile hike through beautiful wilderness, prepare yourself for a picturesque journey as you meander along its verdant landscapes and peaceful alpine beauty.

Since this trail can become muddy or slippery, sturdy footwear should be worn to maintain stability and ensure comfort on your journey.

Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail

🥾 8.6 miles, hard

This beautiful trail is 2 hours from Denver, providing an exhilarating and challenging hiking experience. Enjoy an exciting 8.6-mile adventure culminating in Sky Pond, one of the most desirable hiking destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park.

To best appreciate its serenity and tranquility, begin early, as this trail attracts numerous visitors throughout the day.

Lake Haiyaha

🥾 4 miles, moderate

Bright blue lake in a park under a blue sky.

Lake Haiyaha, located two hours away from Denver, will transport you to an idyllic oasis nestled against majestic peaks. This moderate four-mile hike will lead you down a trail toward its shimmering beauty.

Make sure you bring enough water and snacks for an uninterrupted adventure! 

This is one of our all-time favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our best advice is to hike it in the early morning so you can catch the sunrise up at the lake!

Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes

🥾 4.1 miles, moderate

Just an hour’s drive from Denver lies the Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes trail, a moderate 4-mile hike through Arapahoe National Forest that boasts breathtaking alpine lakes that display nature’s artful beauty. 

As you hike down this unique path, you’ll enjoy views of Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes, two stunning alpine gems. Be mindful that certain sections may become muddy and slippery, so come prepared with sturdy hiking boots! 

Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake

🥾 16 miles, hard

Calm lake with a mountain reflecting on it.

Just 30 minutes outside Denver lies Cascade Creek Trail, an interesting and challenging 16-mile hike leading to the mesmerizing Mirror Lake and Crater Lake.

As soon as you start the trail, you will be mesmerized by cascading creeks, tranquil waters, and stunning natural formations along the way! For the best experience, we recommend arriving early as this trail, and nearby parking can fill up quickly. 

Sloan’s Lake Loop

🥾 2.6 miles, easy

Sloan’s Lake Loop is an accessible hiking option near Denver suitable for hikers of all ages and fitness levels. This enjoyable 2.6-mile loop hike is just 15 minutes by car from the city.

The picturesque beauty of Sloan’s Lake will greet you along its course, providing a welcoming escape into nature without venturing too far from civilization. 

The total elevation gain of 13 feet makes this trail ideal for families with kids and leashed pets. The trail is also wheelchair accessible! 

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    Bear Lake

    🥾 0.5 miles, easy

    Icy lake with trees and a snowy mountain behind it.

    Bear Lake sits 25 minutes outside Denver. This gorgeous hike is the ideal setting for short and family-friendly adventures near the city. The half-mile trail leads directly to its stunning waters. It’s wheelchair-accessible and suitable for young children. 

    When frozen lake conditions prevail in wintertime, it still offers breathtaking scenery. Remember to bring microspikes or poles for safe passage through its terrain.

    Bierstadt Lake

    🥾 2.9 miles, moderate

    Calm and serene lake with a forest behind it.

    Bierstadt Lake is an easy 3-mile loop hike that showcases the splendor of Rocky Mountain National Park. You can get there in approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes when traveling from Denver. 

    Starting on an easy incline during mile one, this trail eventually winds towards an idyllic lake tucked among towering trees. Spikes or poles may be helpful during certain sections, and early arrival is recommended to avoid crowds. This popular trail can become quite busy during the day! 

    Isabelle Glacier Trail

    🥾 8.4 miles, hard

    A 1.5-hour drive from Denver brings you to Isabelle Glacier Trail, a challenging 8.4-mile hike. Be prepared for significant elevation gain toward the end of this trail, and keep in mind that parking can fill up quickly, even on weekdays!

    Square Top Lakes Trail

    🥾 4.9 miles, moderate

    Situated 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Denver is the Square Top Lakes Trail. This moderate 4.9-mile hike boasts beautiful vistas and is typically less crowded than more popular trails.

    However, visitors should note that the Guanella Pass access road closes every year between November and March. Many past visitors have also reported no trail markers, so be prepared to use AllTrails for guidance if necessary. 

    Sprague Lake

    🥾 0.8 miles, easy

    Lake with snowy mountains and trees surrounding it.

    Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is an easy 0.8-mile hike that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain landscape.

    To take the best photographs, plan to arrive before noon with the sun behind you, and keep an eye out for any signs of wildlife on your hike as well.

    Emerald Lake

    🥾 3.2 miles, moderate

    Calm lake with a mountain behind it under a blue sky.

    Situated approximately one hour and 45 minutes from Denver, Emerald Lake offers an accessible 3.2-mile hike for all skill levels within Rocky Mountain National Park. Fishing and snowshoeing are both popular wintertime activities at this destination.

    Although this partially-paved trail is kid-friendly, no pets are allowed on the hike. 

    Mohawk Lakes

    🥾 8.4 miles, hard

    Man hiking on a trail with his dog looking out to a mountain.

    Mohawk Lakes is an 8.4-mile hike with an elevation gain of more than 2000 feet. The trail is about two hours outside of Denver, offering breathtaking views of forests, lakes, and wildflowers along the trail.

    Note that there are no mile markers or bridge crossing markings on this path in snowy conditions, though its rewarding views more than make up for any inconveniences along its route!

    Dream Lake

    🥾 2 miles, easy

    Calm lake with a forest and mountain reflecting on it.

    Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is an enjoyable two-mile out-and-back hike suitable for all skill levels. It will lead you through scenic landscapes before you end up at the stunning Dream Lake.

    This trail is ideal for family outings and especially popular with children. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on this trail.

    Final Thoughts: Lake Hikes Near Denver

    Denver is an ideal hiking paradise, offering lake trails to suit hikers of all skill levels. There are plenty of moderate and scenic trails like Jasper Lake and Lake Haiyaha and challenging adventures such as Sky Pond and Mohawk Lakes for you to discover and enjoy.

    From wild wildernesses like Sloan’s Lake to urban lakes like Sky Pond and Mohawk Lakes,  your options for finding solitude or discovering its beauty are abundant!

    So lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and explore these incredible lake hikes near Denver! Each trail provides unique charms, inviting you to experience more of nature while creating lasting memories. 

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