100 Classic Hikes in Colorado  by Scott S. Warren

100 Classic Hikes in Colorado Guide Book

by Scott S. Warren (The Mountaineers Books)
100 Classic Hikes in Colorado  by Scott S. Warren
Find yourself hiking under the Rattlesnake Arches or beside ancient rock art at Picture Canyon. Wander through aspen glades to Quartz Lake or to mountaintop views from the Lizard Head trail. Here are the best trails in Colorado, selected from all over the state — from the towering Rockies and Front Range to the shortgrass prairies of the Great Plains to the slickrock canyons and mesas of the Colorado Plateau. Now with full-color photos and maps throughout.

© 2008 Scott S Warren/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "100 Classic Hikes in Colorado" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 100.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 100.

Durango residents have long enjoyed both the beautiful pine forests and the spectacular scenery that a visit to the top of nearby Animas City Mountain provides. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the trail that loops across this mountain’s sloping summit is currently designated as a combination hiking, biking, and equestrian route. The locally prominent mountain was named after Animas City, which actually preceded Durango by a few years. First settled in the 1870s, Animas City was a bit standoffish in 1880 when General Palmer brought his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad to southwestern Colorado. Miffed by the rebuff, Palmer established his own town 2 miles to the south and named it after the Mexican city of Durango. Over the years Durango outgrew its civic rival and eventually annexed it.
Durango, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Nestled in a high alpine cirque in the south end of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Arapaho Glacier is one of only a few glaciers still found in Colorado. Although geologists are not quite sure whether these permanent ice fields are left over from the last ice age or if they formed within the last few thousand years, they do show signs of movement characteristic of glaciers. Because Arapaho Glacier falls within land set aside by the City of Boulder for its water supply, it is off-limits to hikers. It is possible, however, to hike to the south ridge of South Arapaho Peak for a good look at the geologic anomaly.
Nederland, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
Nestled up to the western border of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Never Summer Mountains got their name from the Arapaho Indian word Ni-chebe-chii or “No Never Summer.” Although the range does seem to be gripped by winter for much of the year, it is probably no more so than other comparable mountain ranges in northern Colorado. Nevertheless, the name does have a certain mystique, as do the mountains themselves. A nice day hike—or perhaps an overnight excursion—into the Never Summers follows the Baker Gulch Trail for 6 miles to the drainage’s headwaters at 11,253-foot Baker Pass. Because the pass lies at the heart of the range, and because the Never Summers are not well known, the chances of finding solitude along this hike are great.
Grand Lake, CO - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 12
Situated in the plains northeast of Denver, Barr Lake offers an interesting oasis for people and wildlife alike. With its 1,900-acre surface area when full, the lake serves as a stopover for a variety of migratory birds. It is also home to some interesting species of mammals, and in recent years the lake has served as one of a few known bald eagle nesting sites along the Front Range region of Colorado. This hike follows a 9-mile trail that circles the entire lake.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
Of the four different Bear Creeks found in the western half of the San Juan Mountains, the one that drains into the Uncompahgre Gorge couple of miles south of Ouray could well be the most spectacular. Although the creek bottom itself is far too rugged to follow, miners during the late nineteenth century were not deterred, and constructed a trail into the upper reaches of the drainage. In so doing they built one of the most improbable mountain trails in the Colorado Rockies. This hike follows the first 4.2 miles of the route, which has been designated as a national recreation trail.
Ouray, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.4
The city of Boulder has set the pace for open-space preservation among Colorado’s Front Range communities. Some 43, 000 acres of prime foothills acreage have been set aside and many miles of hiking trails and numerous trailhead facilities have been established. One of the more interesting, and most challenging, of these hiking routes climbs through the South Boulder foothills to the top of Bear Peak. At 8461 feet, Bear Peak misses out at being the tallest in the area by a few feet. It does, however, provide one of the most comprehensive views of the Boulder area below and the plains beyond.
Eldorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
While the West Elk Wilderness is the stuff that memorable multiday hikes are made of, this nice little day hike accesses a great view of the extensive wilderness as it climbs from the Lost Lake Campground to 9,970-foot Beckwith Pass.
Crested Butte, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Set in a scenic glacial basin, the Blue Lakes provide a nice destination within the 16,505-acre Mount Sneffels Wilderness. In addition to the access this hike provides to higher terrain above, the fishing at all three lakes can be superb.
Ridgway, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Known for its fossilized tree stumps, insects, and such, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument also features a variety of nice hiking routes, all of which may be enjoyed by hikers of any age. This hike heads west from the visitor center past some interesting ecological communities to Boulder Creek. Like most routes within Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, the hike to Boulder Creek begins at the visitor center—the facility’s back door, to be exact. From here, walk through the outdoor exhibit area.
Florissant, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
The hike to Browns Pass and nearby Browns Cabin offers a pleasurable way to enjoy the southern portion of the Collegiate Mountain Range. In addition to the incredible scenery you would expect to find among this collection of peaks, this excursion offers a vivid taste of Colorado’s mining history. Timberline is reached around the 11,600-foot level, so much of this portion of the hike traverses alpine tundra. Many species Detail of the historic Browns Cabin of wildflowers grow here in late July and early From Browns Pass, the Browns Pass Trail August. Nestled view—especially to the north. Rising along the in the trees just below timberline, this two-far side of the Texas Creek drainage are the Three story structure dates back to the mining boom Apostles—a trio of summits that top 13,900 feet.
Buena Vista, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.8
Since the passage of the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, the Buffalo Peaks have become the centerpiece of the 43,410-acre Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area. Following a pair of scenic drainages across the north slope of these prominent 13,000-foot mountains, the Rich Creek and Rough and Tumbling Creek Trails can be combined to create one memorable loop hike.
Fairplay, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.5
Constituting the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park is an area known as Wild Basin. Whereas the broad and well-developed hiking trails here do not allude to the character this moniker implies, the tumbling and frothy nature of area streams certainly does. A short but memorable hike here leads to one of the more impressive aquatic descents, Calypso Cascades.
Estes Park, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
Castlewood Canyon is located in the plains region southeast of Denver. Etched by Cherry Creek, this canyon includes several ecological communities that blend together in a relatively small area. These include surprisingly tall stands of timber, verdant riparian areas, fragile prairie grasses, and more. Add to these natural features a poignant lesson in man’s attempt to control nature and you have a special place indeed.
Franktown, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.9
This is the most popular hike in the Weminuche Wilderness. One of the most scenic areas in the San Juans, Chicago Basin is surrounded by the stunning 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks of the Needle Range. Add to this the fact that the trailhead is accessible by way of a steam-powered narrow-gauge train and you have an adventure that is steeped in both natural and historic lore. Be forewarned, however: some 6,000 people hike into Chicago Basin each summer, so this is no place to find solitude.
Needleton, CO - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 16.6
Situated in the remote northwest corner of the state, the 35,380-acre Diamond Breaks Wilderness Study Area encompasses a rugged extension of Utah’s Uinta Range known as Diamond Mountain. Although few maintained trails enter this proposed wilderness, one well-established route does follow an old road, now closed to vehicles, up a drainage known as Chokecherry Draw. In addition to some nice views of this little-known corner of Colorado, the hike up Chokecherry Draw reveals the remains of an old homestead.
Craig, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
Covering 469 miles in its journey from Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail accesses a variety of mountain terrain throughout the state. Built mostly by volunteers under the direction of Gudy Gaskill, this trans-state trail linked many existing trails to form one continuous route. On September 4, 1987, completion ceremonies were held at three locations along the trail. One of these sites was 10,880-foot Molas Pass, about 45 miles north of Durango. While portions of the Colorado Trail still need work, hikers can choose to complete either the entire route or countless different segments of it. One particularly interesting stretch of the trail heads 12 miles west from Molas Pass to the head of Cascade Creek, then turns south to follow three lesser routes to Coal Bank Pass. What makes this an especially nice excursion is the fact that most of the route is at or above timberline. This translates into unbelievable scenery throughout.
Durango, CO - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 23
Within the more than 600 miles it covers in the state of Colorado, the Continental Divide forms the headwaters of such famous rivers as the Yampa, Platte, Colorado, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and San Juan. Along the way the Divide tracks widely east to west as it snakes from mountain range to mountain range. One of these undulations occurs where the Divide crests along the San Juan Mountains—the largest mountain range in the U.S. Rockies. Within its final 200-mile stretch before reaching the New Mexico border, the Continental Divide nearly doubles back on itself as it traverses the state’s largest wilderness area, the 488,544-acre Weminuche Wilderness. Encompassing more than 80 miles of the Continental Divide from end to end, the Weminuche Wilderness includes the longest undeveloped stretch of the Divide in the state. Thanks to the Continental Divide Trail, hikers can follow the Divide from Stony Pass to Wolf Creek Pass with very few intrusions. This hike description covers the 26-mile segment of the Continental Divide.
Creede, CO - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 31.5
One of the largest flat-topped mountains in the world, Grand Mesa offers a great opportunity both to learn about the complex geology of Colorado and to enjoy some truly unique scenery. The premier hiking trail on Grand Mesa is The Crag Crest National Recreation Trail, which loops for 10 miles over one of the high points along the mesa top. From this memorable route, hikers can enjoy sweeping panoramas of surrounding mountain ranges and relish the quiet solitude of pristine forestlands as well.
Grand Junction, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
The hike to Crater Lake is a popular one, and for good reason. Access to the trail’s start is easy and, with only one real climb, the hike is undemanding. Along the way the route crosses some impressive terrain before reaching a real gem of a lake. Whether you are looking for a nice day hike or an overnight destination, Crater Lake is an excellent possibility.
Durango, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 11
Mounted along a rocky highpoint of the Rampart Range, the Devils Head Lookout offers hikers fantastic views of the foothills that drop away to the east and higher terrain to the west. This moderately difficult hike located so close to the Denver metropolitan area receives up to 20,000 visitors annually.
Sedalia, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8