| |

13 Beautiful Moderate Hikes Near Denver

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

We’ve traveled and hiked, camped and explored, and mapped and curated a list of moderate hikes near Denver for you to experience on foot!

Denver is, and always will be, the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, but dreaming of those mountains from a distance should be a thing of the past! Denver is the perfect hitching post or base camp for a world of trails and beauty beyond the city.

Grab those trekking poles, hydro flasks, and hiking boots because these moderate hikes are the perfect workout outside of the city. These trails are lined with rocks, steep inclines, and stunning views, so grab a friend and camera and hit the trails!

And as a general rule of thumb – the more challenging the hike, the more rewarding the views!

St Mary’s Glacier, Idaho Springs

🥾Distance: 2.5 miles

The serene St. Mary's Glacier in Colorado, featuring a clear blue alpine lake in the foreground with patches of snow on a rocky mountain slope under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.
These views are easily some of our favorites near Denver.

Nearly an hour outside of Denver, St. Mary’s Glacier is a beautiful yet moderate mountain hike. The trailhead begins near Idaho Springs, with two separate parking lots and a small parking fee.

Be sure to lace up those boots and take a few sips of water before heading out. The trailhead starts at a decent elevation and continues to ascend a few hundred more feet before reaching the glacier. The rocky trail starts climbing upwards from the trailhead and eventually levels out once you reach the lake.

This is one of our favorite easier hikes in the area because it’s not super far. It’s great if you have friends or family visiting and want to show them the beauty of Colorado without heading out to Rocky Mountain National Park.

All around, this out and back hike takes an average of two hours. Continue onwards up to the glacier or opt for the summit for a longer hike and unforgettable adventure!

Castle Rock Trail, Rock Park

🥾Distance: 1.4 miles

Castle Rock Trail is a 30-minute drive south of Denver in Rock Park. This moderate loop climbs the base of the famous Castle Rock for an uphill yet epic adventure.

This hike is open year-round and generally takes around 45 minutes to complete. Once you reach the top of Castle Rock, you’ll have a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains and rock formations and the city carrying on below!

Arapaho Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail

🥾Distance: 7.1 miles

The Arapaho Pass and Lake Dorothy trail is a long, moderate day hike near Denver in the middle of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, nestled in Nederland, Colorado. This popular trail is only an hour and a half outside of Denver, and it offers an amazing day of rugged peaks, tree-lined trails, and glistening lakes and waterfalls.

Because this hike is a 7-mile out-and-back trail, averaging 4-5 hours in hike time, it is important to pace yourself! This trail gradually inclines, flattens out near the timberline, and then climbs once more before reaching Lake Dorothy.

Take breaks as needed. The hike is the journey, and the destination will still be there regardless of the time it takes you to reach it! We promise it’s worth it.

Lake Haiyaha, Rocky Mountain National Park

🥾Distance: 4.0 miles

A view of a high-altitude Rocky Mountain lake with turquoise waters, surrounded by pine forests and rocky terrain under a dynamic sky with sunlight and shadow play.
The color of the water at Lake Haiyaha is so blue.

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most stunning lake hikes in all of the Rockies! Lake Haiyaha is a true hidden gem, as it doesn’t follow the same trail as the rest of the popular RMNP lake hikes.

RMNP is only an hour and a half from Denver but requires a timed entry pass for this side of the park. The trailhead starts at Bear Lake and splits off into two just before reaching Dream Lake. Consider taking a few extra steps to reach Dream Lake and then heading back towards the trail for Lake Haiyaha!

As you close in on Lake Haiyaha, you’ll have to scramble over a bunch of boulders until the lake comes into view. The waters are unlike anywhere else in the park, as rock slides often dump minerals into Lake Haiyaha for a beautiful turquoise color!

When we finally did this hike, we were annoyed with ourselves that we hadn’t done it earlier. Despite being right along one of the most popular trails in the park, this one really feels like more of an oasis!

Chimney Gulch Trail, Golden

🥾Distance: 6.9 miles

Only 30 minutes outside of Denver sits Chimney Gulch Trail. This trail close to town begins at the base of Lookout Mountain and connects to several other trails for a moderate trek of your own!

To reach the top of Lookout Mountain, this trail climbs 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles. Take time to explore at the top, and then make your way back down another 2.5 miles to the trailhead!

This hike gains elevation rather quickly, so be sure to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed. There are plenty of meadows, forests, and creek crossings to hang out at along the way.

Gem Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

🥾Distance: 3.2 miles

A serene mountain pond nestled within rugged rock formations, reflecting a dramatic cloudy sky in Rocky Mountain National Park. The still water mirrors the natural grandeur, making it an ideal hiking destination for those seeking tranquility.

Gem Lake is, of course, another gem in Rocky Mountain National Park. This part of Colorado is only an hour and a half outside of Denver and includes plenty of trails for a day hike near Denver.

This trail still requires an entry pass into the park but is accessed via the Lumpy Ridge Road trailhead, which is generally less crowded than the other side of the park.

The Gem Lake Trail requires some elevation gain, but it’s spread out over three miles of trails, so the uphill climbs are less intense. Along the way, you’ll encounter unique rock formations, much wildlife, and beautiful views!

Mallory Cave, Boulder

🥾Distance: 3.0 miles

Mallory Cave is a moderate hike up into the red rock formations of Boulder, Colorado, only 25 minutes outside of Denver. In a short, steep climb through pine forests, you’ll reach Mallory Cave, known as the bat cave in Boulder.

The cave is closed to the public, but you can walk straight up to the gates and explore the mysteries behind them. Seasonally, the last stretch up to the gates are closed to mitigate fungus that may harm the bats.

The hike takes an average of 2-3 hours depending on the time you plan to spend up at the cave!

Mohawk Lakes, Breckenridge

🥾Distance: 8.4 miles

A person in a blue shirt and hat, standing with two dogs at the edge of a mountain trail, overlooks a vast expanse of green pine forests stretching toward distant rolling hills under a dramatic, cloudy sky.

Nearly two hours away from Denver is the charming mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado. Home to dozens of trails, coffee shops, boutiques, and breweries, this town is perfect for finding a day hike near Denver! We recommend the Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes.

This trail is one of the most heavily trafficked in the area. Although it’s long with lots of elevation gain, it’s not technically difficult, which is why it makes our list of the best moderate hikes near Denver!

Set out on the Spruce Creek Trail, follow the creek until you reach the junction of the trail, and continue straight towards Mohawk Lake. This trail features numerous alpine lakes and stunning scenery.

Complete this hike in under 5 hours and finish the day in Breck.

North Table Mountain

🥾Distance: 3.2 miles

North Table Mountain is a mesa on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Only 30 minutes outside of Denver, this flattop mountain is perfect for hiking.

There are 15 miles of trails and views. The Tilting Mesa to Mesa Top Trail is a loop around the mountain, and people are exploring it! The hike usually averages around two hours and a short drive home!

A girl in an orange hat smiles by a sign that says welcome to Golden.
Be sure to explore more of Golden, too!

Mount Galbraith Loop

🥾Distance: 4.2 miles

Mount Galbraith Loop is a hiking-only trail 30 minutes from downtown Denver. It is easily accessible from the Golden Gate Canyon Road in Golden, Colorado.

The Mount Galbraith Loop requires some elevation gain to reach the top, ranking it as a moderately challenging hike. However, the views of Golden and Denver from the top make the hike worth it! Usually, this hike takes between two and three hours to complete.

Butler Gulch Trail

🥾Distance: 5.5 miles

Butler Gulch is a moderate hiking trail in Empire, Colorado, which is one hour outside of Denver. This route is a beautiful display of Colorado’s backcountry trails with endless wildflowers, shady spruce trees, and stunning waterfalls.

Butler Gulch is an out-and-back trail that averages three to four hours to complete. It is open all year round, so consider hiking it in the winter and skiing back down! Because of the elevation gain, this hike is considered moderate.

And to note – this trail does not have parking at the trailhead. We recommend parking along the side of the road and hiking into the trailhead for a few extra steps!

Waterton Canyon Trail

🥾Distance: 12.6 miles

This hike is for all of our day hikers! This out-and-back trail is over twelve miles round trip and only one hour from Denver.

Waterton Canyon Trail is found in Chatfield State Park, which requires a small entrance fee. This park is protected because of the abundance of bighorn sheep, so the pups must stay home for this one!

This trail follows the South Platte River along a gravel trail for a moderate four-hour hike near Denver.

Windy Peak Hike

🥾Distance: 6.2 miles

Just outside of Golden, Colorado is a golden trail in the Golden Gate Canyon State Park 40 minutes outside of Denver. Summit your very first mountain, or add it to your list of completed summits, by taking on Windy Peak!

Windy Peak tops out at nearly 8,000 feet in elevation and in under three hours you can reach the tippy top! This hike features all things nature with wildlife, wildflowers, old-growth spruce and aspen trees, and snow-capped mountaintops.

Be sure to follow the trail markers to Windy Peak because this trail connects to many others!

Hiking is healing for the mind, body, and soul. It’s important to step outside of the city, away from our desks and computers, and explore the earth we were given. Denver offers an array of moderate hikes for hours or days away from the nonsense. Unwind on one of these mountain hikes near Denver and reconnect with nature.

 See you on the trails!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *