Best Hikes with Dogs Colorado  by Ania Savage

Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado

by Ania Savage (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Dogs Colorado  by Ania Savage
Whether your dog is big or small, an overweight couch potato or a muscular retriever, Ania Savage has selected the best trails in Colorado for every type of dog. She's been hiking with canine companions for more than twenty years and looks at the land through dog-centric eyes. These hikes will delight both you and your pet with panoramic views, soft tundra grasses, plenty of flowing water, and unexplored valleys and forests where you may have the trail to yourself. Savage puts a premium on canine safety, including tips on how to gauge the effect of high altitude and thin air on your dog.

© 2005 Ania Savage/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado" Guide Book
80 Trail Guides

American Basin can be easily reached from Lake City but it is lightly hiked even though at the height of the summer the basin is spectacular with wildflowers and is one of the most beautiful areas of the San Juan Mountains. Your dog will love the soft grass, the rolling meadows, and access to a refreshing dip in Sloan Lake at the end of the trail. Sloan Lake is the habitat of the threatened Colorado cutthroat trout. Since this hike is on Bureau of Land Management land, dogs can be off-leash.
Lake City, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
It’s steep. It’s close to the metro area. Bikers love it on weekends. Yet it has a tumbling creek and an enchanting and shady side trail your pet will love. Apex Trail is an early spring conditioning climb; hiking this trail early in the season will test your and your dog’s stamina for a climb in the high country when the snow finally melts. The main trail is gravelly and narrow so this is also a good place to toughen your dog’s paws or to determine if your dog likes this type of rugged hiking. Apex Trail is best attempted on a eekday, and an early start gets you up the trail before bikers arrive.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
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This moderate and beautiful hike takes you to the Continental Divide by way of the valley created by the North Fork Middle Boulder Creek drainage. The campground and trail are very popular on weekends, so it is wise to get to the trailhead early. However, most hikers turn around at the Fourth of July Mine or veer off on a trail to Diamond Lake. Permits are required for backcountry overnight stays June 1 through September 15; contact the Boulder Ranger District.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.3
In 1909, the City and County of Denver began accumulating land in the mountains to protect its water supply. Today, the Denver Mountain Park system consists of thirty-one named parks and sixteen unnamed parks that total about 14,000 acres of mountain and foothills land. The Bear Creek Trail passes through three of these city-owned parks and ends in Lair o’ the Bear, a Jefferson County Open Space park. Your reward comes about halfway through the hike when you savor the fantastic view of Mount Evans from Panorama Point. Your patient canine companion has to wait until the last segment of the hike for his reward—paws planted in a cooling stream and a long, satisfying lap of mountain water. Bring along extra water so that your dog can be well hydrated on this long hike.
Morrison, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.1
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The Beaver Brook Trail extends for 8.65 miles through open space owned by the City and County of Denver in Genesee Park and on Lookout Mountain. Constructed from 1917 to 1919 with the help of the Colorado Mountain Club, the trail hugs the south rim of Clear Creek Canyon. Because the area has been protected from development for almost 100 years, Beaver Brook Trail offers a unique primitive back country hiking experience in the metropolitan area. The entire trail is a long, strenuous trip with an exposed talus field around Lookout Mountain at the east end. But the west end of the trail makes for a less difficult but nonetheless challenging hike since all of the elevation gain is on the way back, when you and your pet are tired. An added feature of this hike is the short Braille Nature Trail, which would be an interesting hiking experience for a non-sighted person with a seeing-eye dog.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
Ben Tyler who lived with his family in the gulch along a creek that now also bears his name. Tyler made his money by hauling lumber to South Park for the booming town of Fairplay during the gold rush. Beginning almost at the trailhead itself, the trail climbs steeply in a dozen or so switchbacks. The trail then flattens out and the creek that has been down in the gulch now flows on the left and provides easy access for a wallow or swim for your dog.
Shawnee, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
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The road to this trail runs through the rugged and beautiful canyon created by the Cache la Poudre River, which, like the Big Thompson River originates in the steep peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive is a scenic delight as the canyon walls rise on either side of the road. Chambers Lake is located at the mouth of Poudre Canyon and the Blue Lake trailhead is just past the lake. Tall spruces and firs shade the trail for most of the hike, and it is a pleasant trek even on a hot day, with a constant source of cooling water for your dog.
Fort Collins, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
Visitors to Vail, as well as locals, hike up to Booth Falls because the 60- foot waterfall is lovely and the general belief is that the falls are easy to reach. But, believe me, this is no gentle alpine ramble. The hike to the falls is 2 miles one-way with an elevation gain of 1500 feet—not exactly a cakewalk. Moreover, Booth Lake is another 2 miles uphill with an additional elevation gain of another 1500 feet for a total gain of 3000 feet.
Vail, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
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The Brookside-McCurdy Trail is the major north-south trail into the center of the Lost Creek Wilderness in Pike National Forest. The trail extends for nearly 36 miles and reaches an elevation of 11,880 feet. The hike described here starts in Pike National Forest and enters the Lost Creek Wilderness. The trail follows the creek into a deciduous and conifer forest and rises moderately as it heads south into the wilderness area. At higher elevations, vistas open up to the west and small meadows offer pleasant rest and lunch opportunities. Wilderness regulations apply once you cross the boundary, so leash your pet.
Bailey, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
The trail starts off as an old jeep road that winds its way through a thinning limber pine forest before rising above timberline. The rest of the hike is across tundra to two lakes hidden deep in a cirque, where snow may linger into July. On this hike, the starting and ending elevations are about the same. This means that you drop down to the lake after climbing several ridges and then have to climb out of the cirque on the return. The views along the way are worth the climb. From high points along the hike old cabin you can see the Mummy Range to the south, the Medicine Bow Range to the west, and the Snowy Range in Wyoming to the north.
Fort Collins, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
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Butler Gulch offers a delightful hike, although starting out you may have your doubts because of the molybdenum mine. The hike’s positive attributes include easy access to water, a long stretch of soft spongy trail, shade, and an interesting glimpse of Colorado’s mining history.
Empire, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
As with the Grand Canyon but on a much smaller and much less grand scale, you don’t realize it’s there until you have crossed the rolling plain and are staring speechless on the edge of a deep fissure that was carved by water eroding rock over the millennia. In the case of Castlewood Canyon, the erosion was by Cherry Creek, which is famous as the stream in which gold was discovered in 1858.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
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The trail follows a dense forest corridor along the creek for most of the way and is particularly attractive in the spring (early June), when the much-sought-after calypso orchid blooms abundantly in the decaying matter of the forest floor. For panoramic views, do the optional climb to Miller Rock summit, a pile of impressive boulders. An added bonus of this hike is the soft terrain, created by the decay of pine and spruce needles over many seasons. This feature is particularly beneficial for a dog with sensitive paws or for one who is recuperating from chafed paws or injury. If this is the case, skip the steep, gravelly, and rocky ascent to Miller Rock.
Lyons, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Creek or paddle along for a while and then join you under tall cottonwoods for a rest and a shady respite from the hot Colorado sun. The only requirement for enjoying this off-leash canine paradise is that your dog must be voice or sight trained. The off-leash area stretches for more than a mile as it runs south along Cherry Creek, which flows slowly here and has a broad, rock-free, sandy bottom. Dogs seem to know they are in heaven and behave accordingly. Owners who might be less active than their pets can sit at one of two benches strategically placed in the shade of cottonwoods. While not watching Rover, you can savor the fine vistas of the Front Range.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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But with a name like Chihuahua Gulch, how can a dog lover not hike it or a dog not explore it? Begin hiking on the old mining road that climbs steeply as it passes through groves of aspen. At a fork, bear left, enter a meadow, and make the first creek ford, then follow the road and the creek through a large meadow that has two more stream crossings. Several small ponds are on the right (east). You may want to stop here to rest or for lunch. From here, the old mining road begins to climb in earnest.
Montezuma, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.1
Berthoud Pass, elevation 11,300 feet, was discovered in 1861, relatively late in the mapping and exploration of these mountains. The man who discovered this deep notch in the sky-high ridge was Swiss-born engineer Edward Louis Berthoud. His plan was to build a road across the ridge, but he was unable to raise sufficient money. Thus, his idea languished until the road to the north across Rollins Pass was completed in 1873. The Berthoud Pass road was built and paid for by the bustling and silverrich town of Georgetown that lies to the south.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
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The Grand Mesa Visitor Center is on top of the Grand Mesa just east of the Colorado Highway 65 on Trickle Park Road, across from Cobbett Lake. It is open between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily during the summer. The Crag Crest Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978. It is a loop consisting of a crest portion and a lower segment and can be accessed from two trailheads, one on the west end across from Island Lake and one on the east end adjacent to Eggleston Lake. A car shuttle is an option if you want to forgo the loop.
Grand Junction, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.7
The trail begins at 10,400 feet just below timberline and takes you past numerous lush alpine meadows abloom with wildflowers from June through September. Tributaries of nearby Crystal Creek often cross the trail in streamlets and rivulets that a big step will cross and your dog will love to sample. The access to flowing water throughout the hike makes it an ideal hike for a dog, especially if you and your canine companion are hiking on a hot Colorado summer day.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
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The Dunraven trailhead is about 3 miles from the national park boundary. The well-marked trail follows the stream and makes half a dozen stream crossings over plank or log footbridges, allowing plenty of water access for your dog. The early section of the trail goes through private land, so please stick to the trail. You will pass an old open-sided barn and a horse corral across the stream from you in this stretch. Out on the trail you are the ambassador for all hikers and their dogs. Some people you meet may believe that your dog does not belong in the backcountry. Others may be afraid of your dog. You need to be friendly and Rover must be on his very best behavior in such situations. On the bright side, a canine companion may serve as an icebreaker as other hikers stop and ask about your pet.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
Jefferson County’s Elk Meadow Park was homesteaded in the 1860s. Over the years, the homesteads were consolidated into a ranch that by the 1940s encompassed 1140 acres, now all park land. Rancher Darst Buchanan pastured a herd of purebred Hereford cattle on the property. In 1949, Texan Cole Means purchased the ranch as a summer pasture for his Texas herd and in 1977 the Jefferson County Open Space program acquired the land.
Evergreen, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.8
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State Log Book

Feb 2019