Best Hikes with Kids Colorado  by Maureen Keilty

Best Hikes with Kids Colorado

by Maureen Keilty (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Kids Colorado  by Maureen Keilty
The trails in this book thread together the best of Colorado’s outdoor destinations for families. However, countless more kid-friendly trails and attractions surround them, so the “Great Getaways” sidebars found throughout the book highlight hiking, camping, and outdoor fun destinations that are close to the featured hikes. Note that reservations are a must at many of the recommended campgrounds. Where reservations are not required, plan to arrive early in the day to claim a site. The getaways’ variety of outdoor attractions—be they a historic gold mine tour, a four-wheel-drive ride to a friendly ghost town in the mountains, or a soak in a natural hot-spring pool—will appeal to all ages and will add a unique flavor your family’s adventures.

© 2012 Maureen Keilty /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Kids Colorado" Guide Book
100 Trail Guides

The East Inlet Trail offers a short stroll to Adams Falls or a longer meander through the lush valley spilling into Grand Lake. Before reaching Adams Falls, hold on to little ones’ hands; there are no guardrails and the surrounding smooth rocks tend to be wet and slippery. Beyond the falls, hikers follow a gently rolling grade to several worthy destinations: a beaver-worked meadow, mountain vistas, a flower-fringed stream, and a lake with an island.
Minturn, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
This collection of rambles through Colorado’s high desert leads to overlook points that most kids say are “really cool.” One of the few trails in Colorado National Monument far from a precipitous canyon rim, the Alcove Nature Trail serves as a delightful introduction to desert wildlife and geology. A loop on Canyon Rim and Window Rock trails rewards with views of the distant Book Cliffs and closer formations. The Alcove Nature Trail begins just across from the visitor center. Two brochures accompany this thirty-one-site interpreted trail, the “Junior Ranger” version aimed at young hikers.
Grand Junction, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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When Lawn Lake’s dam broke in 1982, the explosion of water and rock spilled down the Roaring River valley, filling the meadow below. Today, boulders and fallen trees mark the flood’s path. The Alluvial Fan Trail, named for the cone-shaped deposit formed by the river flow into lowlands, winds through a wide section of the fan. Kids like scrambling over boulders to reach the trail’s huge waterfall and dipping their feet in its many cool pools.
Estes Park, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.0
A child’s walk among tundra’s treasures followed by a downhill hike through a wind-sculpted forest is what makes this combination of trails a delight. The trail flanks the new Dos Chappell Nature Center, perhaps the highest and best of its kind. It is named for the founder of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. The trail begins just off the highway adjacent to the trail sign. The field of rocks here is called a fell field, where in early summer hikers are likely to find alpine forget-me-nots, a mat of tiny sky-blue flowers with yellow centers. To demonstrate why flowers in this area are short, have the kids feel and compare the power of wind when standing tall and when crouched low, like the flowers. Please stay on the trail; plants may grow less than a quarter inch during the brief season.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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The Animas Overlook Trail is a short, very pleasurable trail that shows the diverse forces that shaped this corner of the state. Nine interpretive signposts along this wheelchair-accessible path provide the kind of geological, ecological, and historical information that normally requires paging through several guidebooks. This recently completed trail is a cooperative project initiated by the area’s Business and Professional Women. It was designed and developed by members of the San Juan Forest Service and completed by a crew of developmentally disabled adults from Durango. Ultimately, Braille guides will be available for the trail.
Telluride, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
The playful gurgle of Fourmile Canyon Creek greets visitors at their first steps into Boulder’s secluded riparian corridor. Kids love stopping at trailside shaded pools, many edged by boulders seemingly arranged as chairs for their adult companions. The near-to-town Anne U. White Trail follows a narrow, wooded canyon, preserved from development thanks to the work led by Ann Underhill White in the 1980s. During summer weekends, plan to hike this popular trail in the early morning or evening hours.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
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Youngsters are eager to hike this irresistibly named trail along Portland Creek. They also love to dip their feet in the water-scoured pockets in the colorful rock of the streambed.
Telluride, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
An abandoned jeep trail brings pedestrians of all sizes and stamina to magnificent views of Telluride’s waterfalls and surrounding peaks. The broad trail allows groups to talk, walk, and investigate nature together as they enter a finger of the hanging valley in which Telluride so beautifully sits.
Telluride, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
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Visitors to Bear Creek Regional Park can enjoy an exploratory hike or an easy saunter through the variety of ecosystems blanketing the foothills of Pikes Peak. Four diverse trails wind through the park’s 1235 acres, enabling almost every hiker to claim, “I saw a hawk!” (or deer, hummingbird, fox squirrel, or towhee . . . ).
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Bear Lake and the surrounding area is a quiet showcase of Rocky Mountain National Park’s ever-evolving forests and shores. The trails wander through a collage of nature’s best: rainbow-making waterfalls, wildflower-bordered streams, cathedral-like forests, and mountain mirroring lakes.
Estes Park, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
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Jim Bishop began building his dream of a “real castle in the woods” in 1969. Since then, he has hoisted and placed A steep staircase into Bishop’s Castle more than 1000 tons of rock from leads hikers to a royal fantasyland. A visit to Bishop’s Castle is long remembered, whether as an acrophobe’s nightmare or a kid’s dream playground. The 160-foot-tall castle, claimed as “America’s biggest one-man construction project,” thrills children as they explore its towers and dungeon, while grown-ups stand amazed as they consider the energy of its builder.
Fair View, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.1
The walk to Mitchell Lake is a tranquil meander through a stately subalpine forest. Children find it fairy-tale charming as they discover rock gnomes and flower angels along the way. The brisk trek to Blue Lake edges a year-round snowbank before reaching the waterfall-fed lake, which remains frozen until midsummer.
Glenwood Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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Bluff Lake Nature Center is Denver’s wildlife pocket, perfectly sized for kids to detect tracks, spy on birds, and discover the hidden habitats of animals and plants. The 123-acre oasis is also a source of solace for adults and a showcase of environmental remediation. The lake and adjacent Sand Creek, once polluted remnants of Stapleton Airport, were rescued in the 1990s by the Clean Water Act.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.0
Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Skyway, one of America’s most scenic drives, the two trails to Box Canyon Falls offer equal impact. The cool, misty (and easy) walk to the falls leads deep into a cleft in the canyon where Canyon Creek thunders 285 feet from the creek bed above. The sunny but steep portion of the hike offers grand views of the region as it leads to the top of the falls.
Telluride, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.1
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Browns Loop ties it all together. The easy-to-follow trail threads a deep, dark forest, crossing brooks, then edging mountain-mirroring beaver ponds before it ends in a meadow of wildflowers. This lovely end-of-road destination also appeals to hikers hoping to catch a ?sh or the sight of a moose. Yes, this is moose country!
Snowmass, CO - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
This land 6 miles west of Boulder was not homesteaded until 1912, three years later becoming a cattle ranch operated by the Betasso family. Now operated by Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Betasso Preserve features deer instead of cows. The vigorous Canyon Loop Trail crosses ?owered ?elds, a lush streambed, a dense forest, and a meadow as it loops around the junction of Boulder and Fourmile canyons.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
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Turtles sunning on a log, cormorants airing their wings, and great blue herons mirrored in a pond’s still waters are among the common wildlife sightings that hikers of all sizes and stamina enjoy at Fountain Creek Regional Park. The 2.5-mile-long park encompasses one of the region’s few wetlands, featuring wildlife observation pavilions and informative kiosks around the spring-fed ponds. The nature center, a “must-see” interactive environment, offers a multi-sensory survey of the park’s stream, cottonwood, pond, marsh, and meadow communities. The trails may be explored independently; however, kids on a park-sponsored interpretive hike have fun discovering new ways of listening and looking while walking in a natural setting. The volunteer-led hikes are offered year round. Riparian wildlife flourishes at Fountain Creek Regional Park.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.5
A garden walk among Garden of the Gods Park’s most stunning red rock spires is what you can expect from this paved, wheelchair-accessible trail. Although a Theiophytalia kerri skull was found here in 1878, the park’s sandstone formations re?ect geologic history eons before the dinosaurs arrived. Intriguing shapes and coloration throughout the park spark the imagination of all hikers. Before hiking, stop at the park’s recently built visitor center to see the exhibits and the ?lm How Did Those Red Rocks Get There?
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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Chapungu Sculpture Park could be described as eighty-two stone sculptures informally placed in a tranquil blend of meadow, woods, and wetland. Those who’ve walked any of the park’s paths use words like “inspiring,” “relaxing,” and most often, “fun, ’cuz the statues tell stories!” Imagine “Leap Frog” depicted in three stone figures or “Teen Secrets” carved into rock.
Fort Collins, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
Hikers of all sizes and interests enjoy the Chicago Lakes Trail as it descends gently to Echo Lake and Idaho Springs Reservoir. Many hikers fish and picnic at the lakes, allowing plenty of time to investigate the shorelines’ aquatic world.
Breckenridge, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.7
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State Log Book

Feb 2019