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Getting out into nature is so important for health and wellbeing. It’s also just super fun to get outside and explore. Even better if it’s an exceptionally striking landscape, whether a snow-capped peak that feels like it’s on the edge of the world, a verdant valley dotted with fragrant wildflowers, a dirt path beside a gushing river or a dense forest that feels like a leafy labyrinth. No doubt you already know that Colorado abounds with beautiful places. The preferred way to get out and explore all the gorgeous scenery? Hiking.

With so many exceptional treks (to put it in perspective, AllTrails lists 4,688 different routes), we had quite a bit of trouble culling it down. That’s why we called in some local experts to help us out. Scroll on for the best hikes in Colorado—though there are thousands more worth doing.

RELATED: THE 15 MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN COLORADO

best hikes in colorado lost lake trail
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1. LOST LAKE TRAIL (GRAND JUNCTION)

Lost Lake Trail is an easily accessible and mild hike on the Grand Mesa. Only 2.5 miles round trip from the Glacier Springs Trailhead, the beginner-friendly route winds through dense pine forests before leading to scenic views and pristine alpine lakes Teeming with trout, South Mesa Lake is a fantastic spot for fishing while Lost Lake beckons those keen on cooling off with a refreshing dip. Considering bringing your pup? “Dogs can be off-leash but must be under voice control, especially around the moose that thrive in the area,” explains Zebulon Miracle, a Grand Junction resident and guide.

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best hikes in colorado rim trail classic
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2. RIM TRAIL CLASSIC (SNOWMASS)

There’s a lot to love about the 1.3-mile Rim Trail Classic. For starters, it’s family-friendly, easy to access and within walking distance from Snowmass Base Village. “A mild enough slope to hike with young children or trail run comfortably, the Rim Trail Classic is a local favorite in terms of effort and time because the trip takes about 45 minutes,” explains Maria Sechrist, manager of HikeSnowmass.com. Plus, the views are great along the trek and especially from the top where you’ll be able to see Mount Daly and the Elk Mountain Range.

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best hikes in colorado emerald lake trail
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3. EMERALD LAKE TRAIL (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK)

People absolutely adore the Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. (In fact, this heavily trafficked route is so popular that it’s advised to take the free shuttle to the trailhead rather than dealing with parking during peak season.) So why all the fanfare? Well, for starters it’s 3.2 miles of sublime scenery—including pine forests, sparkling lakes—plus picture-perfect views of majestic mountains and glaciers. And from a physical exertion perspective, you won’t leave drenched in sweat and with wobbly legs.

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best hikes in colorado ute trail
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4. UTE TRAIL (ASPEN)

Ready for a serious workout with a payoff that’s way better than toned stems? Julie Donovan, concierge at Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection, is a big fan of the Ute Trail—and it’s pretty obvious why. This quad-firing trek, which kicks off within walking distance of downtown Aspen on Ute Avenue, steadily climbs uphill with switchbacks to a rock outcropping. Taking a break at the top of the slopes to soak in the spectacular panoramas is highly encouraged. If you’re too tired after the first leg, there’s no shame in taking the gondola back down.

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best hikes in colorado geyser spring trail
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5. GEYSER SPRING TRAIL (SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST)

Did you know that the Centennial State has a real-deal geyser and it's hidden in San Juan National Forest? Obviously, you’re going to seek that out—and that all begins by following the Geyser Spring Trail. “With a starting elevation of 8,600 feet, the 1.3-mile out-and-back path crosses a meadow and footbridge before climbing into the cooler mountain elevations and ending at a small pool fed by the only true geyser in Colorado,” reveals Justin V., general manager at the Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde-Cortez, an IHG Hotel. The water may be tempting, but just don’t expect to go for a swim as it’s prohibited.

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best hikes in colorado bear creek trail
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6. BEAR CREEK TRAIL (TELLURIDE)

Bear Creek Trail is one of the most popular hikes in all of Telluride (and that’s saying something because there are countless epic paths in the area). Trekkers can access the 4-mile trail from the end of South Pine Street in downtown before hoofing it along the dirt road through the 325-acre Bear Creek Preserve. You’ll pass many aspen and pine groves before arriving at upper Bear Creek Falls. Have some energy left in the tank? Continue on to the cliffs of Bear Creek Canyon via the Wasatch Trail.

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best hikes in colorado the jessie weaver trail
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7. THE JESSIE WEAVER TRAIL (GLENWOOD SPRINGS)


Accessible from the No Name exit off of Interstate 70, east of Glenwood Springs, the 9-mile, out-and-back Jessie Weaver Trail includes moderate to difficult sections following No Name Creek into the White River National Forest. The trail is mostly shaded until just before the halfway mark with small waterfalls and overlooks along the way. If you’re craving a more difficult climb, Matt Nunez, Glen Springs resident and outdoors photographer, suggests crossing the east ridge over to the Grizzly Creek Trail. “The upper portion of the trail goes through a recent burn scar, so be aware of falling rocks and debris.”

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8. CHAVEZ AND BEAVER BROOK TRAIL LOOP (GENESEE PARK)

We all know that hard work pays off. And if you need further evidence of that, just turn your attention to the Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop in Genesee Park. This 5-mile loop is moderately challenging. Though, it does run along a creek and has plenty of shade from leafy trees, so that’s pretty nice—especially during the warmer summer months. Still feeling the heat? Just hop in the water and go for a swim. You can also look forward to sharing the experience with your furry friends as long as they’re on a leash.

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9. MOUNT IDA TRAIL (ESTES PARK)

Although it’s not super challenging by Rocky Mountain National Park standards (FYI we certainly wouldn’t call it anything close to easy), the Mount Ida Trail is a pretty and popular 9.3-mile roundtrip trek. “After a steep first mile, the grade becomes a little more manageable as hikers move through the alpine tundra,” explains Reed Woodford of the Kent Mountain Adventure Center. The prize for making it to the top? Unobstructed sightlines down on alpine lakes a thousand feet below. Oh, and if you want to peep beautiful wildflowers, strike out on the Mount Idea Trail from May to September.

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best hikes in colorado quandary peak trail
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10. QUANDARY PEAK TRAIL (WHITE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST)

Despite being rated as difficult, Quandary Peak near Breckenridge is widely regarded as one of the least challenging of Colorado’s fourteeners as it doesn't require any scrambling. But that certainly doesn't mean it's a walk in the park. After all, conquering a summit taller than 14,000 feet above sea level is no easy feat. The tough-yet-enjoyable 6.6-mile Quandary Peak Trail in White River National Forest has a nice mix of rocky switchbacks, woodsy sections and seasonal wildflowers. Oh, and keep an eye out for mountain goats!

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best hikes in colorado rattlesnake gulch trail
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11. RATTLESNAKE GULCH TRAIL (ELDORADO CANYON STATE PARK)

Located just 20 minutes from downtown Boulder, Rattlesnake Gulch Trail at Eldorado Canyon State Park mixes stunning scenery and spooky history. “After a couple of miles, you’ll come upon the ruins of the Crags Hotel, a luxurious mountainside lodging that mysteriously burned to the ground in 1912—all that remains is the brick fireplace,” reveals Jack Reppy, Concierge at St Julien Hotel and Spa. Continue on to reach the Continental Divide Overlook for 360-degree views of the snowy peaks to the west and the plains to the east.

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12. SKY POND VIA GLACIER GORGE TRAIL (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK)

You could visit Rocky Mountain National Park every day for a year and still not scratch the surface. That said, most of us have more limited PTO than that. Make the most of your vacation days by prioritizing Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail. This resplendent 9.4-mile out-and-back route draws loads of fitness buffs and skilled hikers from June to October. If you have the stamina for this challenging route, expect to glimpse some of the loveliest alpine lakes in the area. That’s pretty great motivation, right?

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best hikes in colorado bridal veil falls trail
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13. BRIDAL VEIL FALLS TRAIL (TELLURIDE)

No disrespect to TLC, but we will always and forever go chasing waterfalls in Telluride. If you’re of the same mindset as us, follow the advice of Lena Demura, adventure guide and concierge at Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, and hit the trail leading to Bridal Veil Falls. It’s only 1.2 miles and not too challenging, which makes this route perfect for families with kiddos, pups on leashes and less-than-expert trekkers. At the end, the tallest free-falling cascades in Colorado await. Not too shabby for an afternoon excursion, huh?

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14. PEAK 1 TRAIL (FRISCO)

Some hikes are suitable for beginners and families with young kids, while other paths will test your endurance, stamina and skill. Looking for a challenge? Pete Swenson, manager at Nordic Center and Trails, recommends Peak 1 Trail. This difficult 7.2-mile out-and-back trail, which starts in Frisco, connects the summits of Mount Royal and Mount Victoria. The reward for all that effort? Beautiful wildflowers in the spring as well as year-round gorgeous vistas of the surrounding landscape and numerous picturesque peaks in the distance.

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best hikes in colorado saint marys glacier trail
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15. SAINT MARY'S GLACIER TRAIL (ARAPAHO NATIONAL FOREST)

Saint Mary's Glacier is a semi-permanent snowfield that’s located in Arapaho National Forest near Idaho Springs, Colorado. The 2.4-mile heavily trafficked trek to this beloved natural site requires a medium amount of output (for reference, it’s rated as moderate) and provides an incredible opportunity to see a stunning alpine lake and amazing views on the way to the obvious main highlight, Saint Mary's Glacier. Down to extend the trip? Definitely keep going towards James Peak.

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