Colorado is one of those amazing states where you can always find something fun to enjoy. With all the beautiful land and plentiful wildlife, there are lots of great hikes and trails to explore all over the state. However, you don’t always have to take a drive up to the mountains to get out on the trails. There are actually lots of great hiking trails located in and around the Denver Metro area. Here are five great nearby hiking trails to check out this summer.
Bear Creek Trail
Lair o’ the Bear Park
22600 State Highway 74
(303) 271-5925
Morrison, CO 80465
www.jeffco.us

This beautiful trail is part of one of the most scenic parks located with just 30 minutes of Denver. The 1.7-mile trail is moderate at best, with lots of shade and plenty of spots to stop for a lovely view. You’ll enjoy the sound of the running water of Bear Creek (and you can even bring your fishing pole to take home your own dinner), plus there’s no shortage of picnic spots to enjoy a lovely lunch next to the trickling riverside. Keep in mind, however, there are a lot of cyclists on this trail, so be sure to share the road. Also, be sure to bring along a birding guide, as there are tons of great bird watching opportunities in the beautiful park.

Waterton Canyon
12491 Waterton Canyon
Littleton, CO 80127
www.coloradotrail.org

Another nearby hike that’s definitely worth some attention this summer is the trail at Waterton Canyon in Littleton. This winding dirt trail takes you along the South Platte River, right through a canyon where you’ll see some truly amazing natural beauty. From soaring eagles to bighorn sheep, lots of wildlife call this area home, so be sure to keep an eye out for photo opportunities. There are a few different options to hike once you arrive, including shorter trails and the largest, a 12.4-mile trip to the Strontia Springs Dam. The entire elevation gain is only about 700 feet, so you’ll find this hike to be a good moderate hike for those who are still beginners.

Related: Top Trails To Enjoy Nature In The Denver Area

Lake Loops Trail
Rocky Mountain Arsenal
6550 Gateway Road
Commerce City, CO 80022
(303) 289-0930
www.fws.gov

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is an old arsenal that has been transformed into a wildlife refuge, so it’s a great place to visit for plenty of amazing views. You’ll find more than 8,000 acres to explore with more than 300 different species of wildlife to check out, plus three lakes and some great hikes. The Lakes Loop Trail is probably the best of the bunch at 1.7 miles, winding along both lakes in the park, Lake Ladora and Lake Mary. This is mostly flat land, so there really isn’t any elevation gain here, which makes the entire loop perfect for beginners and those who prefer easier hikes. The round-trip hike will take about an hour, depending on how long you stop to check out the gorgeous panoramic views.

Clear Creek Trail
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 384-8140
www.cityofgolden.net

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful, relaxed, family-friendly hikes in Colorado, take your entire brood up to Golden right away. The Clear Creek Trail in Golden is perfect. It’s filled with shade to keep the trail (and your kids) cool, and it runs through the business district of Golden, so you can shop a bit in the middle. This is also a great trip for those that have visiting relatives, as the easier hike will keep them from having too much difficulty in the already high altitude. Start out your hike just outside of town at the 6th Avenue Parking Lot, then hike west in Clear Creek Canyon on the Grant Terry Trail. Be sure to check out the bridge along 6th Avenue, as there are several cliff swallows that have built their nests there.

Related: Top Family-Friendly Bike Trails In Denver

Boulder Falls
Boulder Canyon Drive
Nederland, CO 80466
(303) 441-3440
www.bouldercolorado.gov

If you’re looking for a short detour or a really quick hike, Boulder Falls may be the perfect answer. It’s a breathtaking site, as you clear the giant Ponderosa Pine Trees and see the 70-foot high waterfall cascading into its small rocky pond below. The short hiking trail will take you through a cliff-lined area in Boulder Canyon where the creek there gushes into the stunning waterfall. Since this hike is so short, it’s perfect for a quick detour when you’re driving through Boulder, or if you just want a shorter hike for the kids to get outside to enjoy the beautiful fresh Colorado air. The entire trip will take you less than 20 minutes, but allow more time to hang out by the fall, because it’s really that beautiful.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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