(credit: CBS)(credit: CBS)
Colorado in the winter is something truly magnificent to behold. The snow-capped peaks, panoramic views and the expansive vistas all lend themselves to some wonderfully memorable winter hiking. Remember, if you plan on heading out in the winter months for some Colorado hiking, the weather can turn quickly, so keep an eye on the sky and come prepared with all the equipment you’ll need to be safe. Then just set out and enjoy any of these beautiful hikes that are all within a short drive of the Denver area.
Matthews/Winters Park
1103 Co Road 93
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 271-5925
www.jeffco.us

If you’re in search of a hike that is super close to Denver, but will still result in some spectacular views, check out the Matthews/Winters Park loop. This hike will take you about four and a half miles on an easy to moderate hike through some truly stunning scenery, all without traveling more than 45 minutes from Denver. This loop has a lot of open sun so, even in the snowier months, you’ll rarely need snowshoes, and you can get an amazing view of Red Rocks Amphitheater when you climb the Morrison Slide Trail. When the rocks are covered in snow it’s an even more magnificent view, so bring along your cameras to capture the experience.

Indian Peaks Wilderness’ Lost Lake
1104 – 1120 Hessie Road
Nederland, CO 80466
www.bouldercounty.org

This moderate hike is a bit longer, but there are a few places where you can cut the hike shorter if you aren’t looking for a full-day adventure. The main trailhead is about four miles west of Nederland, and you’ll hike in a few miles to the frozen alpine lake. The scenery is also stunning, including views of South Fork Middle Boulder Creek and a gorgeous waterfall. If you want to extend your hike a bit longer, take the extra half-mile hike around the lake. At around six miles, this hike is a great workout and is tough enough to please some of the more advanced hikers, but is also easy enough that a beginner could still tackle this challenge.

Related: Top Hiking Trails Near Denver

Emerald Lake Hike
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-1206
www.nps.gov

When it comes to winter hiking, the trail for Emerald Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best. You may need some snowshoes for this one, depending on the time of year you visit, which you can rent at the Estes Park Mountain Shop. Then set out to explore this short, yet moderately difficult hike up to Emerald Lake. You’ll pass by both the Nymph Lake and Dream Lake before you get to Emerald Lake — just make sure to take the time to marvel at the incredible views of Hallet Peak in front of you. The entire hike is about two miles and will take you around three hours, and since it’s higher up in the mountains, be sure you’re fully prepared for the climate and conditions.

Roxborough State Park
4751 Roxborough Drive
Littleton, CO 80125
(303) 973-3959
www.cpw.state.co.us

Another fantastic park that is located relatively close to Denver, Roxborough State Park is home to several different trails that will take you through the park and into the foothills. If you aren’t sure which trail to start out with, try the Fountain Valley Trail, which features some magnificent towering slabs of Colorado’s famous red rocks. The hike itself is on the easier side, so beginners will enjoy exploring this location, and should take you less than two hours to complete. With all the towering rocks and amazing scenery, it’s a lot like hiking Red Rocks but without all the crowds. Be on the lookout, however, since lack of crowds also means more wildlife.

Related: Top Mountain Hikes In Colorado Springs

Mount Falcon Park
Morrison, CO 80465
(303) 271-5925
www.jeffco.us

It’s always incredible to realize just how many beautiful hikes are located within a short drive of Denver, and Mount Falcon Park is another one of those lesser-known gems. It’s home to stunning panoramic views of Denver, Mount Evans and (on a clear day) Pikes Peak. There are several different trails to explore here, so you’ll want to visit more than once, but be sure to start out with the Castle Trail. The Castle Trail will take you through the historical ruins of John Brisben Walker’s old home, which burnt down in 1918, but you can still see the stone pillars and fireplaces that leave their marks on what was once a grand castle in the Colorado foothills. Give yourself about two to three hours for this easy to moderate hike and you’ll fall in love with this wonderful location.

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