The best part about living in Denver is the easy access to both the bustling city and the stunning beauty of the Rocky Mountains. When you are ready to get out of the city for a while, just a short drive will take you and the whole family to a myriad of different parks, trails and roads all perfectly capturing the essence of Colorado beauty. With so many great places to explore, start the kids off early and try some of these wonderful easy hikes that you can take with even your younger children. It’s a great way to help develop a love of nature in your kids, plus you’ll be teaching them to enjoy being healthy and active in the gorgeous Colorado outdoors.
Enchanted Mesa Trail
9th St. and Baseline Road
Boulder, CO 80302
The Enchanted Mesa Trail is a wonderful place to bring the whole family for an easy hike amongst some truly stunning Colorado scenery. Located in Boulder’s Chautauqua Park, this trail has stunning views of the Flatirons and a picturesque pine forest to wander through. The loop is about two miles in length, and fairly flat, plus there are lots of places to stop mid-way for a picnic lunch. You’ll start out near the Chautauqua Auditorium Trailhead, and then you can decide if you want to stick to the shorter Enchanted Loop or add in the Quarry Loop to make the trip about half a mile longer. Either choice yields beautiful views and plenty of wonderful hiking for the whole family.
Related: Top Hiking Trails Near Denver
Mt. Evans Road, CO 80439
Mount Evans is the epicenter of hiking for many outdoor enthusiasts in Colorado, however you may not realize that there is a very easy hike around Echo Lake, perfect for even the younger ones. If you’ve seen the classic view of Mount Evans reflected in Echo Lake, you’ve seen photos from this spot. It’s a short hike, only about a quarter of a mile, and fairly flat, though the altitude can make the walk more difficult. There are lots of places to bring a picnic lunch and plenty of wildlife up here, so you’ll have lots of great photo opportunities during your hike. Park at the parking lot and take the trail around the lake to the Historic Echo Lake Lodge for this short, yet beautiful hike.
2989 S. State Highway 83
Franktown, CO 80116
Homestead Trail links up with lots of other trails in Castlewood Canyon, so you can enjoy just the short Homestead Trail or if you are feeling up to it, you can extend your hike to include one of the other many options. The Homestead Trail is less than a mile long and it’s the first trail you find once you enter from the west side of the park. The hike starts at the ruins of the old Lucas Homestead, which itself is a fascinating look at a home built in the late 1800s. It can be tough to find the west entrance to the park but you’ll find it at
Castlewood Canyon Road.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517
Bear Lake is a fantastic starting place for many different hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or you can just enjoy the hike around the lake itself. The park gets very busy, especially in the summer, so you may want to arrive early to find parking. The hike around the lake is just more than half a mile and is pretty flat, in fact it’s considered handicap accessible, though the trail is unpaved, so it could be a struggle for a wheelchair. As you walk around this picturesque Rocky Mountain lake, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the park, lots of wildlife and several stops for a beautiful picnic lunch. If you have some friends visiting from out of town, this is the perfect hike for them, due to the ease of the hike and close proximity to all of the great spots in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Mount Evans Summit
Mt. Evans Road, CO 80439
Trying to hike a fourteener with the whole family can be a bit of a challenge but that’s where Mount Evans again offers a great opportunity. There is a road that allows you to drive almost all of the way to the top, just a few hundred feet short of the summit of the famous mountain. Along the way, you’ll spy lots of wildlife, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Once you get to the top, park and begin the hike up to the summit. It’s about a quarter-mile and is fairly easy, though the altitude can make it more difficult than you would expect. Once you get to the top, you’ll be at 14,265 feet above sea level, and you will have some of the most stunning panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.