While Denver may be gaining a reputation for its burgeoning food, nightlife and art scene, it’s still best-known for its Rocky Mountain views and Red Rocks. Looking to burn off some calories after dinner at Tavernetta or drinking your body weight at Williams & Graham? From hidden hot springs to Alpine lakes, here are some of the best walks in Denver.
The most scenic walks in Denver
1. Bear Creek Trail
Locals refer to the Bear Creek Trail as ‘a taste of the country in the city’. This roughly eight-mile trail winds from South Platte River to Bear Creek Lake National Park, passing through Denver and Lakewood along the way. It’s an easy and leisurely stroll along a paved multi-purpose trail also used by cyclists and joggers. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of sparkling photo opportunities though; the path means through Cottonwood Park with views of Denver’s skyline to the east and the mountains to the west.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is one of the state’s best-known music venues. The all-natural amphitheatre features towering rocks reaching heights of up to 300 ft tall to amplify the sound. It’s hosted concerts and events for over five decades, with everyone from the Beatles to Daft Punk having taken to the stage. Red Rocks isn’t just for music buffs though, with dozens of trails encircling the venue.
The Trading Post Trail is one of the shortest and easiest hikes – a 1.4-mile route through striking rock formations, valleys and natural meadows. The Funicular Trail is just as short but very steep, while the Mt. Vernon Creek Trail offers sweeping views of the amphitheatre itself.
For the most dramatic views, you’ll need to head out of the city to the canyons. Deer Creek Canyon is less than 30 miles from the city centre and easily accessible by car and public transport. The 2.7 mile (4.3 km) loop is relatively easy too, with gently undulating slopes and a few rock scrambles. Kids will love it and you can bring oldies along too.
Start the walk on the Meadowlark Trail and then join the Plymouth Creek Trail for the best views.
If you want a good walk without leaving the city, head to City Park. Denver’s largest park encompasses the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Natura and Science and the IMAX, as well as tennis courts, baseball fields and horseshoes. The City Park Perimeter Loop is just shy of four miles (6.1 km) and meanders past two picturesque lakes and at least a dozen-or-so historical monuments. You can bring your dog along for the ride too, but you’ll need to keep them on a leash.
City Park also boasts spectacular views of the city skyline and sunset. Head to the viewing deck for the best Insta opportunities.
It’s only a 25-minute drive from Denver to the aptly-named town of Golden, where this trail begins. In this former gold rush town, you’ll get some of the best views of Colorada, with plenty to explore too including the Coors Brewery and Buffalo Bill’s Grave. When you’ve finished up sightseeing, you’ll hike the North Table Mountain which was formed almost 60 million years ago.
From Golden, you can take the North Table Loop Trail which involved moderately steep climbs for panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. There’s abundant wildlife to see along the way, such as golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and prairie dogs. It’s particularly pretty in the spring and early summer when the wildflowers are out in full force.
Also under 30 minutes drive from the heart of Denver, this 6.5 mile (10.4 km) takes an average of around four hours to complete. The trail slices through the Eldorado Canyon State Park, which is popular with rock climbers thanks to its 500 plus technical climbing routes. You don’t need to be an adrenalin junkie to enjoy hikes here though. There’s an accessible and moderately-easy route from the visitor centre car park that follows spectacular canyon views and a picturesque waterfall en-route. The path intersects with the Walker Ranch Loop Trail, where you can turn back.
It’s a short but hellishly steep trail, but it’s worth the thigh burn for those views. Contrary to what its name suggested, there’s isn’t actually a glacier here but there is a semi-permanent snowfield here which is often confused for one. You’ll get to enjoy snow-capped summit views even in the blistering heat of summer. To reach the trail, follow the signposts to St. Mary’s Trail from Fall River Road. St. Mary’s Lake is around half a mile from this point. After stopping in possibly one of the state’s most picturesque picnicking spots, you can continue along the trail to the glacier, then simply turn back around when you’re ready. You can hike the route all year round but the best time to visit is between April and October.