Best Dog Hikes Colorado  by Bob D’Antonio, Maryann Gaug, Stewart Green, Linda B. Mullally,  and Tracy Salcedo-Chourré.

Best Dog Hikes Colorado Guide Book

by Bob D’Antonio, Maryann Gaug, Stewart Green, Linda B. Mullally, and Tracy Salcedo-Chourré. (Falcon Guides)
Best Dog Hikes Colorado  by Bob D’Antonio, Maryann Gaug, Stewart Green, Linda B. Mullally,  and Tracy Salcedo-Chourré.
Colorado! The word conjures images of rugged peaks, cascading mountain streams, and crystal clear alpine lakes. Indeed, the state’s middle section lives up to those expectations, but the state as a whole offers so much more. Colorado’s western canyon country, carved by raging torrents, is rich in dinosaur graveyards and the artifacts and ruins of Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont Indians, all well worth exploring. The Eastern Plains, long thought too flat to be scenic, have plenty of natural delights tucked away for the hiker. Buttes rise above the plains, providing a haven for hawks and falcons, while southeastern canyons cache signs of ancient inhabitants including American Indian petroglyphs and North America’s largest known dinosaur tracksite. Hiking is one of the best ways to explore Colorado, and there’s no better companion for your outing than your dog. Dogs are often members of the family, and you wouldn’t want to hit the trail without them.

© 2013 Bob D’Antonio, Maryann Gaug, Stewart Green, Linda B Mullally, and Tracy Salcedo-Chourrand233;/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Dog Hikes Colorado" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 50.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 50.

This hike follows the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail south from Wolf Creek Pass to Alberta Peak. It climbs through a pleasant spruce-fir forest and passes near a ski lift at Wolf Creek Ski Area. Beyond the ski lift the trail winds through the forest, then out onto the edge of a ridge with great views to the south and west. Passing through willows, the trail ascends above tree line with views in all directions and beautiful alpine wildflowers. A short scramble takes you to the top of Alberta Peak (11,870 feet), with its resident pikas.
South Fork, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
This is a strenuous but great hike up to the summit of Bear Peak (8,461 feet), one of Boulder’s most visible landmarks. The Bear Peak Trail follows Bear Creek up beautiful Bear Canyon, then makes a steep ascent up the Bear Peak West Ridge Trail to the summit. Expect beautiful vistas and blooming wildflowers during the summer months. From the parking area, access the Walter Orr-Roberts Weather Trail on the west side of NCAR. Follow this informative trail for a short 0.2 mile to a kiosk and a sign pointing to the Mesa Trail. Drop a short distance, then climb steeply to a water tower. From the water tower follow signs for the Mesa Trail, staying left at all trail junctions. At the 1.2-mile mark you arrive at the junction of the Mesa Trail and Bear Creek. Go left up the steep, wide road to a junction with Mesa Trail and the Bear Canyon Trail on the right.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.4
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The Big Dominguez Canyon Trail wanders up a beautiful canyon cut in the side of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Desert bighorn sheep were reintroduced here in 1983 and 1985—watch rocky areas and cliff tops for them. Ancient people have traveled through the canyon for at least 1,500 years. Keep your eyes open for (but hands off) petroglyphs pecked in boulders along the trail. Remains of an old mine straddle the trail 6 miles from the parking lot. This red sandstone canyon is part of the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, designated by Congress in March 2009.
Southwest, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 13
This hike climbs to the west summit of Black Mountain, a volcanic plateau in the Elkhead Mountains. The trail first winds through an aspen forest with vegetation so thick at times that you might feel the need for a machete. The trail then proceeds into drier lodgepole and spruce-fir forests. Once up on the plateau, a spur trail takes you to a raptor viewing area complete with an interpretive poster and views west toward Dinosaur National Monument and Utah.
Northwest, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.4
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A wonderful day hike leads to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. This short hike takes you up to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by stunning alpine peaks. Due to the rocky and sometimes wet and snowy conditions of the trail, you may want to consider outfitting your pooch with weather-appropriate booties for his sensitive paws. This is one of my favorite hikes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, and you get a lot of bang for the buck on this hike. Beautiful views, spectacular wildflowers, lovely alpine lakes; this hike has it all. If you are planning to hike up to Blue Lake during the weekend in the summer months, arrive early to secure a parking space. The parking lot fills up quickly in summer and finding a space after early morning can be a problem. The hike begins at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead, located near the restrooms at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead parking area.
Ward, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
This pleasant hike loops along Cascade Falls Trail and Portland Trail in Ouray’s Amphitheater area. The trail offers nice views of surrounding mountains, jagged cliffs, and mining operations. The hike includes the trail to Upper Cascade Falls. This spur trail switchbacks its way past cliffs for great views of the surrounding mountains. After enjoying the falls, you can walk to the Chief Ouray Mine’s bunkhouse.
Southwest, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.8
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Coyote Trail winds past limestone caves, through a lush riparian and forested area, then climbs above for a bird’s-eye view of Rifle Falls. Kids of all ages will love exploring the caves. Bring a flashlight for the largest one. Squirrel Trail crosses East Rifle Creek and winds through Gambel oak forest to the base of a red sandstone cliff. The trail continues along the Grass Valley Canal, which takes water to Harvey Gap Reservoir. Hiked together, the trails make a lopsided figure eight through a naturally and historically interesting area along East Rifle Creek.
Northwest, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
The loop trail in Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space winds gently through ponderosa pine and Gambel oak (oakbrush) forest and across several meadows on the south side of Dawson Butte. Occasionally you get glimpses of the tops of Pikes Peak and Devils Head, along with the ridge of the Rampart Range to the west. This open space features separate bridle trails complete with over sixty horse jumps. The area is excellent wildlife habitat with a good diversity of birds. With a picnic table almost halfway around the loop, this trail provides for a leisurely hike.
Castle Rock, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
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This nice family hike follows along the base of the Devil’s Backbone, just west of Loveland. This is a great hike for the whole family—both two- and four-legged members. When hiking with both dogs and kids, be sure you have snacks and waters—even on shorter, easy hikes. Kids will tire often, so stopping for a snack break for both Fido and your child will be much appreciated. From the parking area, walk north on a road up to the trailhead kiosk. Grab a Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail map. The map explains local history, geology, flora, and wildlife surrounding the Devil’s Backbone area. Past the kiosk the trail follows a road leading to the Wild Lane Bed and Breakfast. Go right just before the bed-and-breakfast, following the sign for the Devil’s Backbone Trail, up to a gate.
Loveland, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
This hike takes you into an easily accessible canyon in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area. The trail first crosses open high-desert country of rabbitbrush, junipers, and other thorny plants. It then makes a loop in Devils Canyon, below huge walls of Wingate sandstone and interesting rock formations. Part of the loop follows the creek bottom and should be avoided during thunderstorms. Hiking beneath immense sandstone cliffs and past amphitheaters in a colorful canyon is a real treat! Keep an eye out for desert bighorn sheep and rattlesnakes.
Northwest, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.9
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The hike to Devils Lake is a great warm-up or practice hike for anyone wanting to climb the 14,000-foot peaks near Lake City. The elevation gain is similar, but at lower altitude. For those wishing a shorter hike, the old cow camp at mile 2.6 is a good turnaround point. The Devils Creek Trail into the Powderhorn Wilderness was constructed in 1994. The relatively undisturbed Cannibal and Calf Creek Plateaus contain one of the largest, relatively flat alpine tundra areas in the lower United States. The Cannibal Plateau is named after the area’s famous cannibal, Alferd Packer.
Lake City, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.6
This is a strenuous hike that climbs up to the summit of Sheep Mountain (8,450 feet), high above the Big Thompson River and Canyon. The trail is well marked with mileage markers and informative signs pointing out information on plant life, erosions, and geology. Be sure your dog is in good health and physical shape for this hike (see workout recommendations on page 8). From the parking area, follow the road up past a gate to a sign pointing to the summit trail. Make a quick left and go up to a second sign near a large pipe on the left. Go left again here; the trail becomes narrow as it clings to the side of a steep hill. Begin a steep climb to where the trail cuts across a talus slope. Read the first of many informative signs that are located along the trail. This section of the trail travels through a forest of beautiful ponderosa pines and the occasional Douglas fir.
Masonville, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
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This excellent loop trail threads across colorful sandstone bluffs at Palmer Park in northeast Colorado Springs. Gorgeous vistas also come with lots of wildlife, such as squirrels, birds, rabbits, and red foxes, so be sure to keep your dog on leash. The Edna Mae Bennett Nature Trail is a lovely hike through the ravines and rocky bluffs of expansive Palmer Park in the urban heart of Colorado Springs. The rustic trail climbs high above the houses, affording excellent views and exploring shallow canyons, crumbling rock buttresses, and fanciful hoodoos shaped like primitive sculptures. While most Palmer Park trails are multiuse, you won’t compete with mountain bikers on most of the Bennett Trail—it’s too darn rocky.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This beautiful hike leads along towering rock walls. The trail travels up a south- and west-facing hillside through North Draw, with spectacular views of the Indian Peaks, the Continental Divide, Denver, and towering, sheer rock walls. From the parking area at the ranger station, walk north up some steps and cross the road to access the Eldorado Canyon Trailhead. Begin a steep climb into North Draw on the Eldorado Canyon Trail. Much work has been done on the lower section of the trail to eliminate cutting switchbacks, so stay on the main trail. You gain altitude quickly as the trail climbs up into North Draw.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
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The First Fork Trail follows a sparkling little creek up to Missionary Ridge northeast of Durango. Although parts of this forest burned in 2002, the vegetation is lush and trees are growing again. The trail travels through a forest of Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, and aspen. After joining the Missionary Ridge Trail, head northeast through mixed conifer and aspen forests and several beautiful meadows, with occasional views north to the craggy San Juan Mountains. Return via Red Creek Trail, which drops down several steep switchbacks, then past huge aspens. A beautiful hike when aspens are golden!
Southwest, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
The Granite Lakes Trail first wanders along the Fryingpan River, meandering up and down through thick forest and around some interesting granitic formations. The first 3.3 miles are fairly gentle. Turning up the Granite Creek drainage, the trail climbs steadily, and often steeply, to Lower Granite Lake, tucked in a bench above Granite Creek. Upper Granite Lake is about 0.75 mile farther along a fairly gentle path. Once in the subalpine zone, the wildflowers and views are beautiful. Backpack in—don’t forget supplies for your dog—and take an extra day or two to explore this beautiful and quiet area.
Basalt, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.6
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This great family hike is in Boulder County’s newest open space area. It is a great way to get the kids out into the woods on a short, scenic loop through stands of beautiful ponderosa pines and open meadows. Heil Valley Ranch is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing, so keep an eye on your dog for this hike. From the trailhead/picnic area, pass the information kiosk and follow the signs for the Lichen Loop. The trail goes over a wooden bridge and heads left, up to the start of the loop portion of the hike. Travel through stands of beautiful ponderosa pines and a meadow filled with tall grasses, yuccas, and cacti. Views to the north up the valley are spectacular, with sharp-cut canyons and open meadows. Reach a trail junction at around the 0.5-mile mark and go right, switchbacking up through the ponderosas. Past several large lichen-covered boulders, the trail breaks out into an open meadow with tall prairie grass and the occasional ponderosa tree. Views open to the south and east at upturned sedimentary rock along a ridgeline.
Lyons, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
Most people think of eastern Colorado as a flat, uninspiring expanse, but the south eastern corner bordering Oklahoma is full of interesting canyons, rock formations, wildlife, reptiles, birds, and human history. The Homestead and Arch Rock Trails travel across a variety of landforms and through human history. Rock art from 2,000 years ago to the modern era is pecked and painted onto canyon walls. An equinox carving exists in a crack on a canyon wall. Remains of homesteads from the late 1800s and early 1900s dot the landscape. Hells Half Acre, a rock arch, numerous little canyons, springs, a forlorn windmill, windblown plains, prairie flowers, and juniper trees are just some of the sights you’ll see as you hike this loop. Watch for great horned owls! Dogs must be under control. Water is scarce along the trail, so bring your own.
Springfield, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8.5
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A steady climb leads to Horsethief Park, a high mountain meadow, and ends at a cascading waterfall on the western slope of Pikes Peak. Located off CO 67, an oft-traveled route between Divide and the historic mining town of Cripple Creek, the Horsethief Falls Trail (Trail 704B) offers the solitude and beauty of the Rocky Mountains without straying far from the beaten path. The singletrack dirt trail ends at the crystalline falls, which spills over a jumble of granite boulders. The waterfall is most dramatic in early summer, when it’s swollen with snowmelt from Sentinel Point, a spur of Pikes Peak. Although steep at the beginning, the trail is perfect for families, kids, and dogs. It’s also a great winter hike on snowshoes.
Trinidad, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
The Jud Wiebe Trail climbs up and across the hill north of Telluride between Butcher and Cornet Creeks. Although short, it has its steep moments, as very precipitous mountains surround Telluride. This trail is a good early season south-facing hike and a great warm-up for longer, more difficult trails in the area. From various points, Bridal Veil and Ingram Falls, the ski area, spectacular craggy peaks, and the town below come into view. The trail was completed in 1987 in memory of Jud Wiebe, a Forest Service employee who designed the trail.
Southwest, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
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