Complete Guide to the Avalanche Lake Hike in Glacier National Park

Nestled on the west side of Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful hikes in the country: Avalanche Lake, sitting pretty at an elevation of 3,905 feet.

This Montana park draws over two million visitors a year, most of them being hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Avalanche Lake is known for its impressive beauty and is rated one of the top attractions in the whole park. It’s a must-see when you are visiting Glacier National Park.

Keep reading to find out what you need to know about the Avalanche Lake hike before you go!

PLANNING YOUR AVALANCHE LAKE HIKE AT-A-GLANCE:

Mileage: 5.9 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 757 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting Around: Most poeple who travel to Glacier National Park use a car, whether that's their own personal car or a rental from a nearby airport. There is also a shuttle that stops at Avalanche, you can read more here.

Gear: Be prepared for all manner of weather on this hike! You'll want layers that can adjust to variable temperatures, waterproof layers (like this rain jacket), proper hiking boots (I love my Ahnu boots), and you'll probably want some trekking poles to help you on the descent.

Need To Know: If you plan to visit multiple national parks in a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will save you a bundle! It costs $80 for an annual pass (for an entire vehicle traveling together) to all US national parks and federally managed site. 

You also need a separate ticket to access Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is different than your general entry into Glacier National Park.

How To Get to Avalanche Lake

Photo Credit: Leah Bilquist

Note: Access to Avalanche Lake is only possible via Going-to-the-Sun Road via the West Entrance of the park, which requires a separate ticket to enter.

Once you enter the park, you will drive towards Apgar Campground. You will begin to see signs for Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Make a right onto Going-to-the-Sun-Road and begin your drive towards the trailhead.

You will first pass Lake McDonald on your left. Once you get to the end of Lake McDonald, you will be a little over nine miles from the trailhead.

You will then see signs for Avalanche Lake. Keep in mind, the main parking area holds about ten cars and is normally full, unless you get lucky and see a hiker leaving the parking lot.

It is recommended to loop around and wait for someone to leave if there is no availability. Popular times are 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and 12:00 PM.

There is additional parking about a half-mile north of the trailhead where another five to ten cars can be parked.

You can walk the road back to the trailhead if you find a spot there. This will add mileage to your trip, but it is well worth it once you see the beauty of the lake.

Keep in mind the reservation system is currently in place at Glacier National Park. You will not be able to access this trailhead unless you have a Going-to-the-Sun-Road entry ticket.

History of Avalanche Lake

You are probably wondering how Avalanche Lake got its name… well, you’re looking at it!

The lake’s turquoise blue waters are due to the abundance of avalanches that fall down the Sperry Glacier, the mountain that sits behind the lake.

Avalanche Lake got its name in 1895 from Dr. Lyman Sperry, who is the namesake of Sperry Glacier. The glacier itself provides the water for the lake, from its constant avalanches.

Dr. Lyman was in awe of how many avalanches he witnessed during his short time visiting the lake — hence its name.

Avalanche Lake is also unique because it is one of the few lakes of its size that still has fish in it! It is rare to have fish in the area due to its size and elevation. Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the most popular fish found here in the lake.

The lake itself is a mile and a half long with a depth of 54 feet in some sections, which is an impressive depth for its relatively smaller size.

The Avalanche Lake Hike: Step by Step

Photo Credit: Leah Bilquist

Hiking to Avalanche Lake via the Trail of the Cedars is an unforgettable trek! The reason it is so distinctive is that it is two top-rated hikes in one.

First, you will begin your hike at the start of Trail of the Cedars, which is 0.9 miles long.

This hike starts you out in a wooded forest filled with green trees and mossy rocks. There is a wooden boardwalk that goes through the woodland which you will follow along.

Wildlife such as deer and moose walk the trail freely here and are commonly spotted. The sound of flowing rivers will surround you. Small cascading waterfalls line the trail.

You will even pass over a wooden bridge that provides astonishing views of the bright blue waterfalls!

Photo Credit: Leah Bilquist

This part of the hike is for all skill levels and is even wheelchair-friendly due to the boardwalk.

The trail lives up to its name: you will be surrounded by enormous cedar trees throughout your whole walk! The Trail of the Cedars hike is recommended on very sunny or hot days due to the amount of shade the cedars provide.

Surround yourself in the majestic wilderness while enjoying a much-needed hike in Glacier National Park that will bring you back to nature.

Halfway through the Trail of the Cedars is the start of the Avalanche Lake Trail. Avalanche Lake is two miles from Trail of the Cedars, with an additional two miles back.

This makes the hike in total around 5.9 miles with a 757-foot elevation gain, since you only do half of the Trail of Cedars’ length. This trail is rated as moderate and can be quite the workout, especially on hot summer days.

As soon as you follow the signs to the left on Trail of the Cedars, you will begin your ascent to Avalanche Lake.

The first part of the hike is completely uphill on a dirt trail. There are large wooden steps built into the trail in certain sections, making it an intense workout!

Stop and enjoy the views during this uphill battle whenever you need to catch your breath. You will be surrounded by icy blue rivers and vibrant green mossy trees. It is a very peaceful hike with background sounds of birds chirping and running water over the rocks!

Once you get about a mile and a half up, the trail begins to level out, making the last half mile pure excitement. You will continue your way through the trees until you spot a crystal blue image in the distance, peeking through the trees.

Another wooden boardwalk appears and you will follow that to the lake. The trees will part and the incredible Avalanche Lake will sit before you: a tranquil oasis of clear water merging with turquoise blue water.

Photo Credit: Leah Bilquist

The stunning mountains behind the lake showcase rivers flowing down the sides. A lush green forest fills the surrounding areas. When the sun hits just right, you can see the snow still sitting on the top of the peak. It’s an absolutely scenic and beautiful visual.

Most hikers spend their day here on the sandy beaches of Avalanche Lake. Visitors take off their shoes and soak their feet in the cold glacier water.

Some even become brave enough to swim in it, which is allowed but not commonly seen due to how cold the water is, even in the heart of the summer!

It is recommended to bring lunch and a small blanket to sit on, as this is a remarkable spot to have a bucket list picnic. Hikers lounge out on the beach and enjoy the views.

The hike can be crowded, but there is enough room for everyone to have their space at the beach.

If you want a less crowded area, continue on the boardwalk for ten minutes to reach the other side of the lake. This side is rumored to be just as beautiful with fewer people around!

If you are lucky enough, you can even find your own secluded beach on this side. A lot of people think that the main entrance is the only stop off of the lake, but the trail continues all the way around. I would recommend spending some time at both beaches for optimal views.

When you are ready, begin your descent back down another two miles following the same route you used earlier. The wooden steps are high in some parts, making it a bit strenuous on the knees.

If you have knee issues, plan on bringing a brace or using a walking stick for the hike back down.

Once you reach the bottom of Avalanche Lake Trailhead, you will continue on the Trail of the Cedars to the left. This will eventually loop the Trail of the Cedars trail and provide some new scenery.

The trail ends in half of a mile and brings you back out to the parking lot where you started.

Final Things to Know About the Avalanche Lake Hike

Photo Credit: Leah Bilquist

Due to its popularity, this hike to Avalanche Lake can get very crowded!

Just take your time and use hiker etiquette. If you’re descending the trail, step aside and give space to the people climbing up.

Also do not go off-trail and be respectful of the marked trail signs…. yes, even (and especially) for photos!

If you encounter wildlife, give them enough space and do not approach. Glacier National Park is grizzly bear country, so always be bear aware. You may want to bring bear spray or bear bells.

The hike itself can take anywhere from two to three hours depending on your level of fitness. Add on an additional two hours to spend at the lake. Plan for a total of five hours to fully enjoy this gorgeous day hike!

Remember to pack a delicious lunch and yummy snacks to eat at the top. Most importantly, bring extra water. It may be cooler at the lake with a slight breeze but your body needs additional water for those hot summer days.

If you don’t want to bring a lot of water, you may want to bring a filtering water bottle like the Grayl so you can fill up on delicious glacier water that is filtered so as to be safe to drink!

***

There is a reason why Glacier National Park has gained so much popularity over the past three years. Avalanche Lake shows the secret as to why: a mix between glaciers, waterfalls, and a lush forest makes the beauty surreal.

After driving all over this park, the Avalanche Lake hike took my breath away the most, becoming one of my favorite hikes of all time. 

If you have one day or five hours in this park, drop everything else and hike the famous Avalanche Lake: a view that is often only seen on computer screensavers will come to life before your eyes.

Lace up your hiking boots and visit this Montana hotspot — Avalanche Lake is waiting for you to visit!

5 Must-Do Hikes in Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado is home to world-class skiing in the winter months and exceptional hiking in the summer.

In the summer, hiking in Breckenridge means beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, a myriad of wildflowers, and great forests to immerse yourself in. 

There is truly something for everyone in Breckenridge in the summertime. You can walk down Main Street, window shopping and eating delicious food, or you can dive into the vast trail network in the area.

There are over 100 different hiking trails in Breckenridge, Colorado. The five trails in Breck I will be talking about are a few of my favorites and offer a wide variety of terrain and scenery to enjoy.

A Note Before Hiking in Breckenridge

The mountains around the resort town of Breckenridge Colorado

Hiking and mountain biking are very popular in and around town. Many trails in the summer do become very saturated with mountain bikers.

If you do find yourself on a trail with a ton of bikers make sure to stay alert, always listen for bikes and keep your eyes up.

If you are hiking and encounter bikers, it is always helpful for hikers to step off the trail and let the bikers through so they don’t have to dismount, especially if the bikers are climbing.

The town of Breckenridge is located at an elevation of 9,600 feet. It is important to drink plenty of water in the days leading up to traveling into town as well as continue to hydrate when getting to town. 

Some signs of altitude sickness are headache, fatigue, and trouble breathing in adults.  For children, altitude sickness often manifests as a stomach ache. 

It is important to give yourself time to acclimate before pushing yourself on a challenging hike.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you on the trails. It is helpful to carry a backpack on all of your hikes.

It is also extremely important to pack a few extra layers. The weather in the mountains can change extremely fast, and oftentimes it does not matter what your weather app says.  Be prepared for anything!

If you have some binoculars, I would pack them as well because there is no shortage of wildlife in this area.

Enjoy your trip!

The Best Hikes in Breckenridge

Bald Mountain Trail

Snow dusted mountain in Breckenridge Colorado hiking trails

Distance: 10.5 miles out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 3,075 ft

The Bald Mountain Trail leads you to the top of one of the infamous 13ers in the community, Bald Mountain. 

The Bald Mountain trailhead is located just east of town. On the drive to the trailhead, you get a tour or the beautiful homes in the community. 

For this trail, you park at the intersection of Baldy Rd (Rd 520) and Goldenview Dr, right by the Summit Stage bus stop. After you park look to the other side of the road, for the dirt road that is the Bald Mountain Trail.

This hike is best accessed from June through October.  Snow can still be found along the trail in June as you get higher in elevation. 

This trail offers expansive views of Breckenridge Ski Resort, The Ten Mile Range, and  Mt. Guyot, as well as beautiful wildflowers and some wildlife. 

Look for a cabin in the woods on your right within the first 0.5 mile of the hike! Further along the hike, about 1.5 miles in you will pass by Iowa Mill, which was built in 1935.

When you get to the top, be prepared to put on extra layers as you will be at the top of a 13,000-foot mountain and it can be a bit breezy up there.

When you are finished, you can head back down the same way you came to get back to the car!

Quandary Peak Trail

People hiking up the steep section of Quandary Peak in Colorado near Breckenridge hiking spots

Distance: 6.6 miles out and back

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 3,570 ft

Quandary Peak is the only 14er in the Ten Mile Range and is a great  introductory 14er. 

This is a heavily trafficked hike near Breckenridge, best accessed July through September, that offers a spectacular journey through various landscapes. 

When attempting to do any 14er, make sure you are acclimated to the elevation that you are starting at, because you will be going to an elevation of over 14,000 feet. 

Start early, not only because the parking lot can fill up fast, but you want to give yourself ample time to get to the top. 

In the mountains, it is typical for afternoon showers to come in, so getting up and down the mountain as early as you can is helpful. 

Bring layers! Sometimes it can feel like a different climate on the top than it did at the parking lot. A wind/rain layer and an extra mid-layer can help you stay warm at the top so you don’t have to cut your time short.

Last but not least, pack snacks and more water than you think you will need.  Anything can happen on this adventure. You want to be prepared for weather, injuries, and anything else you can think of. 

Parking for The Quandary Peak Trail is located off of Rt 9 on Blue Lakes Road.  Once you park you walk onto McCullough Gulch Rd for a short while until you come across the Quandary Peaks Trail on your left. 

At this point, you will be on a single-track trail that switchbacks through the amazing forest.  After you get above the treeline, you are hiking an exposed ridge with 360-degree views. The trail gets extremely rocky and the wind will start to howl! 

As you get closer to the top you might see some mountain goats. Once to the top, you get great views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges.

Once you’re done taking in the views, head back down the same way you started. Take your time on the way down and watch your footing.

Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail

Mohawk Lake is surrounded by lichen covered rocks. It is a popular hiking trail in Breckenridge Colorado

Distance: 8.4 miles out and back

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 2,106 ft

The Mohawk Lakes Trail is a must! This is a heavily trafficked trail, best used from July through October.

You start at the Spruce Creek Trailhead and begin gradually gaining elevation.  Once you get to an intersection of the Wheeler Trail and McCullough Gulch Rd, continue straight to get to the Mohawk Lakes Trail.

There are seven lakes along this trail and you can see all of them if you would like. First you will get to Mayflower Lakes. 

After this, the trail begins to get steeper, but it is worth the effort to keep going to see the biggest lake, Mohawk Lake. Once you get to Mohawk Lake you can turn around to make the hike shorter, or you can continue on to see three more lakes.

I do recommend hiking to all seven lakes if you have the energy to get there as there are not many hikes in the county to see that many alpine lakes!

Gold Hill (Colorado Trail seg 7.1 & 7.2)

A partly cloudy day hiking in Breckenridge with trees and mountains capped with snow in the distance
Photo Credit: Katie Jakubowski

Distance: 7.2 miles out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 1,466 ft

The Upper and Lower Gold Hill Trails offer you an opportunity to hike a small section of the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trails runs 567 miles from Denver to Durango.

You park just off of Route 9 at the bottom of Sherwood Trail Road.  From there you get on the Gold Hill Trail. 

You start to climb on the trail and continue to gradually climb for 3.6 miles until you reach the Peaks Trail. 

Just a quarter-mile into the trail, you get amazing views of Breckenridge ski resort.  When you look back across Route 9, you can see the Colorado Trail switchbacks.

The sage in the area smells amazing and the wildflowers in peak season are incredible. 

You can go as far as you would like on this trail, and even add extra miles on the Peaks Trail if you’re feeling good!

B & B to Reiling Dredge to Minnie Mine

The remains of an old mine by the water in Breckenridge Colorado
Photo Credit: Katie Jakubowski

Distance: 3 mile loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 413 ft

This 3-mile heavily trafficked loop trail in Breckenridge offers you a view into history!

Breckenridge started as a mining community. On this loop, you are able to see The Reiling Dredge, which used to mine gold in the area, as well as all of the rock and sediment the dredge left behind.

You park at the B & B trailhead off of French Gulch Road and make your way to the B & B Mine Trail. 

After hiking for about 1 mile, you will come across the Railing Dredge, which has sunk and now sits in the most beautiful water.  

After leaving the dredge you will cross the road and head to the Minnie Mine Trail.  Once you get back to French Gulch Road, make a right to head back to your car.

This is a low-intensity trail in Breck you can do if you just want to get out for a nice walk. You will come across many old artifacts around the trail so keep your eyes peeled! This is the trail to do if you are interested in seeing history.

The 12 Best Hikes in Golden, Colorado (Picked By a Local!)

Dakota Ridge near Golden Colorado a beautiful hiking area

Golden is one of Colorado’s underrated mountain towns — and it should be your next stop for a great hike near Denver!

A former gold rush town that sits at  5,629 feet, Golden is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Historically, it was the capital of the Colorado Territory from 1862 to 1867; it is the ancestral home of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Cheyenne Indigenous peoples.

Currently, it is known for being the home to the infamous Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines.

The hiking in Golden is a hiker’s playground, offering a whopping 70 trails, ranging from easy to moderate.

Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll or push yourself, there is a trail for every adventurer. Here are some of the best hikes in Golden, Colorado!

The Best Hikes in Golden, Colorado

South Table Mountain Trail

Beautiful spring landscape in South Table Mountain Park, Golden, Colorado

Mileage: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 482 feet

A shorter hike in Golden is South Table Mountain, a two-mile loop that starts at the edge of downtown.

The hike brings you to the top of Castle Rock, a popular landmark in Golden that you can view from all over the area!

This spot is recommended for sunset hiking in Golden and the breathtaking views you’ll find there. The trail is a bit steep going up, but the scenery makes it worth it.

North Table Mountain

Sunset hitting different rock formations on a hike on North Table Mountain Golden Colorado

Mileage: 8.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet

If you are looking for a longer workout, hiking North Table Mountain and Rim Rock Loop will be a better pick for you!

This mountain is known for its mountain biking, but it is also great for hikers in Golden looking for a challenge.

The trailhead starts at Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex – Golden Bike Park. Be aware and share the trail with the cyclists!

The 360-degree views at the top make the distance well worth it! You can even spot Coors Brewery on your way to the top.

Chimney Gulch Trail from Highway 6

Views of Rocky Mountain foothills near Golden Colorado on the Chimney Gulch Trail on a sunny, cloudless day

Mileage: 6.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,755 feet

This is an out-and-back trail in Golden that brings you to the top of Lookout Mountain, one of the most popular mountain roads in the area!

You will be crossing Lookout Mountain Road a few times during this hike, and it is important to be alert for cars and cyclists when crossing.

The hike is rated as moderate but it does have a higher elevation gain.

To get to the trailhead drive up W 6th Ave, towards Lookout Mountain. This scenic spot will show you all of Golden and even Denver in the distance!

Terry Park at Clear Creek

Landscape in the fall at Clear Creek with fall foliage and a mountain in the distance with the letter M

Mileage: 1.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 65 feet

This is one of the easiest hikes in Golden; in fact, it is a more of a nice stroll through the town!

Terry Park at Clear Creek is a shorter route with very minimal elevation gain. We recommend it for all skill levels, and it is great for families.

It is a paved path along Clear Creek, which is a branch of the South Platte River, making it the perfect option for winter hiking as well.

In December, you can see the town lit up with holiday lights! Marvel at statues and trees surrounding downtown Golden on this relaxing path.

Mt Galbraith Park

Scenic view of Golden, Colorado from the top of Mt. Galbraith trail

Mileage: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 928 feet

Located off of Golden Gate Canyon Road is Mt Galbraith Park, a Golden hiking area with over five miles of gorgeous trails.

Mt Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail is the most popular in the park, a 4-mile loop that circles the top of the peak. Certain parts of the hike do become narrow, so keep that in mind when planning this hike.

There is a dirt parking lot right off the main road at the trailheadm making this trail is a great option for those living in Denver.

Get a break from the city life and soak in those mountain views, while getting a good workout among this scenic spot known for its unique rock formations.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park – Racoon Trail

yellow aspen trees in the fall in golden colorado

Mileage: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 754 feet

When summer begins to turn to fall, Colorado becomes an even more picturesque landscape!

The aspen trees turn from green to golden in early September in Colorado, as the leaves began to change colors at higher elevations.

In Golden, the colorful aspens normally turn yellow in early October, though this is depending on the year.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is rated one of the top places in the state to view this once-a-year event!

Hike through the golden aspens on Racoon Trail, located in the northern part of the park. This is a scenic loop that is a little over three miles with moderate elevation gain.

Parking can be limited near the trailhead, particularly during the fall, so it is recommended to get an early start!

If parking is unavailable, you can use other lots in the park for added mileage.

Keep in mind, this is a state park. That means there is a $10 entrance fee, unless you have a State Park Pass. 

Beaver Brook Trail

View from Beaver Brook Trail in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Mileage: 13.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,297 feet

Those looking for a challenge can take on this difficult hike in Golden!

Unlike most trails, the elevation gain is mostly on the way back, making it a unique challenge for experienced hikers.

The trail starts in Golden and eventually drops you down near Clear Creek. After a few miles through the forest, you eventually drop even further out to Chief Hosa.

It is important to make sure you have enough energy and fuel for the climb back to the trailhead! Packing high-energy snacks like nuts and protein bars is a smart idea.

Take your time on this one and soak up the views of the canyon throughout the trail. It is tough, but it is worth it!

Apex & Enchanted Forest Loop

City of Golden, Colorado as seen from the Lookout Mountain Road also known as the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway

Mileage: 5.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,234 feet

Apex Open Space Park is located only a few minutes from downtown Golden. Follow Lookout Mountain Rd to the trailhead.

Note this park has unique rules to help mountain bikers and hikers share the road. Even calendar dates (for example, the 2nd, 4th, etc.) are reserved for bikes only, no hikers or equestrians.

Odd calendar dates (ex: 1st, 3rd, etc.) are reserved for hikers and equestrians only, no bikes.

This is a perfect summer hiking destination in Golden, since half of the trail is in the sun and the other half in the shade.

Enjoy the colorful wildflowers along the dirt path in the spring and early summer!

Clear Creek Trail

Path along Clear Creek in Golden Colorado

Mileage: 20.1 miles

Elevation Gain:  226 feet

This is a great option If you are looking to improve on distance hiking, without massive elevation changes.

This long trail starts off of US-6 west of downtown Golden. The trail follows the twenty miles of Clear Creek all the way from Golden to Adams City.

Along the hike, pass the Colorado Railroad Museum, the adorable Prospect Park, and the Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area. 

This is a unique hike that actually runs opposite of the mountains towards the city. The path is paved and is ideal for biking or cycling.

Hikers recommend this during the winter months for a long walk along the river. Of course, you can just do a small portion of this hike if the full 20 miles aren’t for you!

Golden Open Space Trail

Open space hike in Colorado in winter or fall

Mileage: 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 101 feet

Park on the left side of Tony Grampas park and follow the sign for the bike park.

This short and sweet trail brings you by the Golden High Country Archers Range and the Golden Bike Park. Bring your dog since there is a dog park you will be passing as well!

You even walk through local neighborhoods, all while getting in those hilly views. The dirt path is mostly shaded taking you through the forest, while the other half is out in the sun through the neighborhood, offering you a little bit of everything.

Mother Cabrini Shrine

Many steps leading up to the shrine with views of Golden Colorado around it

Mileage: 0.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 173 feet

This hike in Golden leads you to a shrine to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, known as Mother Cabrini, where you can hi up to the 22-foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mother Cabrini found this property in 1902. It was used as a summer camp for the Queen of Heaven Orphanage. The purpose was to provide outdoor activities to the girls at the orphanage.

It was built in 1954 at the highest point of the site. You can now trek up the 373-step stairway that leads you to the statue. This is a short but sweet hike that is very historic to the area.

Dakota Ridge Trail

Beautiful Spring Hike at Dakota Ridge in Denver, Colorado, with red rocks amphitheater visible

Mileage: 5.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,099 feet

Located right off Highway 70 west is North Dinosaur Open Space Park, a great place for a hike near Golden.

This hike starts you uphill and then drops you down, making it another uphill journey on the way back.

Follow the ridge between Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Green Mountain. You can do the trail in either direction!

This is a fun workout that makes you feel as if you are hiking in the sky once you reach the top. Enjoy the scenery of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater — it’s simply stunning!

***

The foothills near Golden, Colorado are a convenient option for those looking for a day hike only 25minutes outside of downtown Denver.

Take an easier stroll downtown for those looking for an easy and relaxing day, or for those seeking a challenge, head into the mountains for that steep uphill climb!

Since most of these trails are in the foothills, be aware of rattlesnake activity, which are commonly reported from early spring through mid-fall. Always watch the path and never pick up large rocks where they could be hiding.

In the winter months, take advantage of the snow-capped mountain vistas, but be sure to pack and dress appropriately for the weather.

Golden, Colorado has a hike for every season and every skill level. Lace up your boots and head into the foothills. Afterward, take advantage of the delicious dining options downtown. You earned it!

Big Island Hikes: 17 Breathtaking Hikes on Hawaiʻi

the waterfall of rainbow falls in hawaii surrounded by lush green foliage

Hiking on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi is one of the greatest opportunities to enjoy incredible landscapes and inspiring views.

The Big Island is otherwise known as the island of Hawaiʻi, and it’s received the nickname of “The Big Island” to distinguish itself from the U.S. state of Hawaii.

The Big Island is of the most beautiful places on earth to hike. One of the coolest things about the Big Island is that there are eight different climate zones. On just one island, you can explore rainforests, desert areas, and ice caps (plus more).

When you come to Hawaiʻi, you will realize that it is largely made up of two massive mountains, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Mauna Loa is the largest mountain by volume in the world, whereas Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world if you count what’s below sea level — move over, Everest!

These massive mountains lend themselves to some pretty stellar hiking on the Big Island, as you can imagine!

There is also incredible hiking in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, where you may even get to see lava flowing.

The Big Island is named so because the lava is always flowing, and therefore new land is born every day. It’s the biggest island of the Hawaiʻian islands, but it’s also the newest. There are five volcanoes on the island of Hawaiʻi: Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea (Maunakea), Kohala, and Hualālai.

When I lived on the Big Island, I was able to walk right up to the lava flow when hiking in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park! However, this was because of the timing and is not guaranteed. It just depends on what the lava is doing.

This is also why helicopter rides are a popular attraction on the Big Island. You can always see the flow overhead; it is just too difficult to get to if the lava is flowing in a remote area.

Check out Hawaii helicopters tour online here!

In addition to high elevation climbs and hiking amongst volcanoes, the Big Island is full of beautiful green forests and offers coastal hiking and gorgeous valleys.

Hike on the desert plains, along the shoreline, in the rain forest, or through lava tubes. It does not really matter; every place is spectacular. The Big Island is just that amazing.

We will categorize these Big Island hikes based on regions: Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hilo, Hāmākua, Kohala, Kona, Saddle Road, and Puna.

female hiker standing on mauna loa looking at the clouds and views below the summit

Hikes in Kaʻū

First, we have rural and scenic Kaʻū, which is home to South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

There are great places to hike on the plains of this area while enjoying the intensity of the dramatic landscapes, as the ocean is always in sight.

There are no amenities in the Kaʻū hiking areas, so bring what you need to have a safe, comfortable journey: some local Hawaiʻian foods to snack on, plenty of water, comfortable clothing and footwear, and anything you need for camping.

You can, however, freely camp on the public lands here. Leave no litter or trash behind, and be sure to dig a hole for your bathroom needs.

South Point

Length: 0.5 miles
Rating: Easy
Route Type: Out and back

You can drive down the dirt roads leading to South Point, where you can then take the short hike to South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

You may see people jumping off the cliff into the ocean here.. and, you may want to join them! There is a ladder you can climb back up after you jump.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to jump off the cliff, you will enjoy spacious views of the Pacific Ocean.

Papakōlea (Green Sands Beach)

Length: 5.6 miles
Rating: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

From South Point, you can make the trek to Green Sands Beach. This unique beach gets its name from mineral deposits of olivine crystals.

These deposits come from an ancient lava flow which formed this beach. The beach also contains black and white sands so it is greener in some areas than in others.

The hike follows a dirt road, which makes it easy to navigate. You may even be able to hop a ride with a local driving to the beach. Hitchhiking is very common on the Big Island.

However, I would not recommend driving a rental to Papakōlea unless it’s a 4-wheel drive, as the road is rough.

Once you arrive, either hiking or hitchhiking your way to the beach, stop for a few moments and breathe and take in the beauty. The views are wonderful.

Note: Do not remove any sand from here or any Hawai’ian beach – it’s illegal and fines can be as high as $100,000 (plus Pele may curse you!)

Kaʻū Desert Trailhead

Length: 3.8 miles
Rating: Easy
Route Type: Out and back.

When visiting the Kaʻū district, you want to be sure to check out this trail on the Big Island! It’s special because you will have the opportunity to see fossils of human footprints in the rock along the path.

You will be exposed to the Kaʻū “desert,” which is largely desolate. You should bring lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen.

You will see some wildflowers and the prolific ohia tree along the way. Plus, enjoy more impressive views of the Pacific!

Punaluʻu (Black Sands Beach)

Length: 5.8 miles
Rating: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

Come here if you want to see sea turtles — they are almost always laying on the beach!

Plus you get to see rare black sand beaches made of lava rock. You can tweak this hike to your liking or hike the entire length of Punaluʻu Bay.

Plus, there are many places to post up on the beach here. There are also restrooms and sometimes food vendors.

Hikes in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

This park has it all… including a luxury hotel! There are camping areas here as well if you’re looking for a more low-key way to spend a few nights in this gorgeous national park.

You can fill your water at the visitors center and check out the displays, or head down Chain of Craters Road to view the sea arch. You can find petroglyphs, lava tubes, rainforest, and desolate craters. It is of the ultimate in Big Island hiking destinations!

You can even see the glow of Kilauea Caldera at its corresponding museum! Peep the steam vents on your way down Crater Rim Drive to see the caldera. The glow of the caldera can be seen from long distances

Halapē (Puʻu Loa via the Puna Coast Trail)

reddish brown rock with bits of green grass and vegetation on this big island hike to halape

Length: 11.3 miles
Rating: Difficult
Route Type: Point-to-point

This hike is not for you if you are an inexperienced hiker. You will need a water filter to refill water, or you’ll have to bring a lot of water to handle this 11-mile one-way, 22-mile roundtrip hike.

Due to its length, this hike is ideal for an overnight backpacking trip; however, you will need a permit for backcountry adventures.

You will find Halapē on the Puʻu Loa via the Puna Coast Trail. You will begin and end on a road, so if you’re traveling with a friend and two cars, you may want to leave vehicles on either end.

Otherwise, you’ll have to prepare a ride ahead of time or hike all the way back, doubling the length of this difficult hike.

This will be a tough but rewarding Big Island hike with some pretty hefty elevation gains. However, you won’t be disappointed with the result. The reward of hiking to Halapē is supreme!

Picture a private beach and freshwater swimming holes in an incredible oasis amongst the desolate lava fields, practically all to yourself.

Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs Trail

Length: 1.2 miles
Rating: Easy
Route Type: Out and back

This is a convenient trail stop-off on your way down Chain of Craters Road, which you can take to check out the sea arch.

This road is a major pipeline through the park with many stops along the way which make a great introduction to hiking on the Big Island.

We like this stop as it is an easy hike with an incredible connection to the ancient Hawaiʻians, where you can acknowledge and pay your respects to their centuries of stewardships of the island.

There is a boardwalk along with parts of the trail which increases the ease of this walk, so this is really one that shouldn’t be skipped while hiking the Big Island.

Kīlauea Craters Trail and Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tubes)

people hiking on the Kīlauea crater trail with volcanic landscapes on a sunny day

Length: 8.0 miles
Rating: Moderate
Route Type: Loop

This trail will give you a well-round experience of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. You will hike in the craters of long-since-erupted areas of the volcanoes you will be walking on. You may even see steam rising from the ground!

You will get to experience jungle and rare plant species that can only grow in this unique landscape. Plus, as you hike, you’ll walk across lava fields and through lava tube caves — be sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes, as these volcanic rocks can be jagged and rough!

Hikes in Hilo

Hilo is a rainy area of the Big Island, so you’ll want to come equipped with some weatherproof gear if hiking near Hilo.

It is one of the busier areas of the island, though it is not as busy as Kona. There are lots of places to check out here, but we will stick with hikes for now!

One of the main draws for hikes in this area is the waterfalls: there are several, and we’ll cover a few of the best Big Island waterfall hikes below.

Rainbow Falls (Waiānuenue)

the rainbow falls waterfall in big island with green lush plants in the foreground

Length: 0.1-0.2 miles
Rating: Easy
Route Type: Out and back

This is one of the most photographed spots in Hilo, and the hike couldn’t be easier!

You can easily view them after a short 0.1-mile hike. Then hike further up the trail to the upper falls (0.2 miles).

When you venture upwards you will get to view one of the most incredible banyan trees I have ever seen — it is over 1000 years old and truly majestic.

Trust me, you will want to climb it. It is not too difficult as the tree allows for “hallways” that form along its many branches. It is a spectacular sight to see and a fun playground for all.

Waiʻale Falls Trail and Boiling Pots Lookout

Sunset over the park with the waterfall and a lot of greenery and lava rocks. Boiling pots on the Big Island. Tropical forest.

Length: 0.6 miles (plus an additional 0.3 miles for the Boiling Pots lookout).
Rating: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

Here you can view another gorgeous waterfall, plus the Boiling Pots Lookout is pretty stellar, too, and the rapids below will surely impress!

It is also nice as these are two more short hikes with great rewards. You can easily do Rainbow Falls and Waiʻale Falls in a single day of hiking in Hilo. Have a waterfall-themed hike day!

Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden, Banyan Drive, and Coconut Island Loop

a giant banyan tree in big island hawaii

Length: 2.3 miles
Rating: Easy
Route Type: Loop

This is a great way to see a few Hilo landmarks in one fell swoop!

The Liliʻuokalani Gardens are absolutely lovely: you’ll feel like you’re in Japan as you walk through these 25-acre gardens, which were built in 1917 as tribute to the Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaiʻi to work the sugar cane fields.

The gardens are named after the last reigning monarch of Hawaiʻi, Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was overthrown when the United States invaded the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, as a way of honoring her.

You’ll continue down along Banyan Drive, which is cool because of the beautiful banyans, of course! The banyans were planted by celebrities who have placards on the trees. It’s known as the “Hilo Walk of Fame”.

Finally, Coconut Island is a tiny little island with a park, restrooms, and some beaches. It is popular to jump off the tower in the waters of Hilo Bay from here.

Fun fact: Coconut Island was originally called Mokuola by the Native Hawai’ians. It translates literally to “island [moku] of life [ola]” but can be understood as meaning “healing island”. It was said that one could heal themselves by swimming around the island three times!

Hikes in Hāmākua

Head north from Hilo to picturesque Hāmākua, which is an excellent part of the island for “rainbow hunting” in the wet climate of Hilo… plus it is just such a beautiful part of the island!

Get lost in the jungle or a sacred valley as you explore Hāmākua.

Waipiʻo Valley Trail

Length: 4.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

This is by far one of the most beautiful hiking spots on the Big Island! It is truly magical.

You will have to endure the steep grade of the road down into the valley, but it is worth every step.

Also, be aware that there is a river crossing here. At times the river is not passable due to heavy rainfall, so keep that in mind.

Waipiʻo Valley is a sacred valley to the Native Hawaiʻians (kānaka maoli). It was a place where they lived and celebrated together. In fact, King Kamehameha — the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi — was raised in this valley.

I urge you to remember this when you visit. Hold space for the remaining kānaka maoli, the Native Hawaiʻians, from whom this beautiful land was taken, and who suffered devastating effects from U.S. imperialism, colonization, and annexation.

You can do this by ensuring history stays alive by learning the history of Hawaiʻi and approaching the culture and language of Hawaiʻi with curiosity.

You will have a fuller, more rewarding experience in Hawaiʻi in general if you hold to this rule of respect and curiosity.

Hikes in Kohala

Kohala is situated at the very top of the Big Island. There are just a couple of spots for hiking here.

Be sure to stop in the wonderful town of Hawi to fuel up for your trip. The town is so charming, you might not ever want to leave!

Pololū Trail and ʻĀwini Lookout

the rugged becah of polulu after a hike on the big island

Length: 0.9 miles (3.9 miles to ʻĀwini)
Difficulty: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

This Big Island trail will take you down to Pololū Valley, where you can enjoy views of the ocean and the green mountains which cascade along the coastline.

There are some swings here for you to enjoy. We suggest bringing a hammock to relax in while taking in the sights and sounds.

The beach is pretty rocky in parts, but if you bring a hammock, you will be all set!

To explore the area more, keep hiking past the beach and follow the trail up to ʻĀwini Lookout. It can be pretty wet and muddy to hike but you get great views and the heart pumping. This is where the 3.9 miles comes in!

Hikes in Kona

Next, we have the “Kona side”. There is a huge amount of things to do in the Kona district!

One of the big draws of Kona is hiking to some hidden beaches along the coast. Plus there are forest and lava hikes for you to enjoy among the many other activities in Kona!

Makalawena Beach (Pu‘u Ali‘i)

Length: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route Type: Out and back

This is the best beach on the Big Island (the hike is fully worth it!)! It is rarely crowded by beachgoers because of the effort it takes to get there.

You will walk down a road to reach the beach. It has no shade so be sure to bring your reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.

Once you reach the beach you can continue walking to make this a 4-mile hike if you desire. The waters are usually calm for swimming so you may want to just jump right in and enjoy the blue water and white sandy beach!

Puʻu Wa’awa’a Cinder Cone Trail

green and orange cinder cone seen from above

Length: 7.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route Type: Loop

Puʻu Waʻawaʻa Cinder Cone State Park has many great hikes! We like this one as you end up at the top of Puʻu Wa’awa’a

You will get to see an awesome view of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of my favorite mountains in the world.

The rock formation is also super cool, and you can enjoy wildflowers and spacious views from here

Kealakekua Bay

brilliant turquoise waters in a bay in hawaii big island

Length: 3.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route Type: Out and back

To find the unmarked trailhead, park on Nāpōʻopoʻo Road at telephone pole #4. There are other turn-outs to park in so please do not block the road!

This is an awesome Big Island hike that ends at the bay, so you may want to bring snorkel gear along. You may get to see ruins from old Hawaiʻian villages.

At low tide, you may see the placard which marks where Captain Cook landed. The story is that Captain Cook was killed by Native Hawaiʻians, but the full story is rarely told.

The real story is that Captain Cook, on this third voyage to Hawaiʻi, attempted to kidnap the King Kalaniʻōpuʻu to hold for ransom in return for a stolen boat, and that Captain Cook died in the struggle. (So, yeah, if you attempt to kidnap the king, you can’t really be surprised by the results…)

Along this hike, besides seeing this interesting historical landmark, you may also get to see Hawaiian spinner dolphins and other beautiful wildlife.

Best Saddle Road Hikes

Cutting across the island is Saddle Road. It is from here you can access hikes on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. You may even want to summit them!

Prepare for the cooler temperatures that occur at higher altitudes. Also, be aware that hiking at these elevations can cause Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Remember to stop frequently if you choose to hike up the mountain, which is almost 14,000 feet!

Bring plenty of water and snacks. Take your time and allow yourself to acclimate to the elevation. Be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen. It feels cool, but you are super exposed to the sun!

Mauna Loa Summit

volcanic rock and cinder cones on the mauna loa summit trail on the big island

Length: 13 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Route type: Out and back

When you climb Mauna Loa, you are hiking on the world’s largest mountain by volume in the world and the world’s largest volcano!

To get to the trailhead, take Saddle Road to Mauna Kea Observatory Road (between mile markers 27 and 28). Park at the trailhead after 17.5 miles of driving on this road. It is one lane in some spots and rough so drive carefully.

Bring a map, although the route is marked with cairns so it is relatively easy to navigate. Just be sure not to hop on the Mauna Loa Trail that begins in the lowland; that is not the same trail you are on here.

Mauna Kea (Maunakea) Summit via Humu’ula Trail

summit of mauna kea the tallest mountain in hawaii

Length: 12 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Route Type: Out and back

To get to the trailhead follow the same directions for Mauna Loa’s trailhead but stop at Ellison Onizuka Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station after about 6 miles.

This is where the trailhead will be. You need a permit to hike Mauna Kea (spelled Maunukea in the Hawaiian language), but it is easy to do with a self-registration station at the trailhead. Be sure to drop off your registration at the visitor center!

You will get to hike past Lake Waiau which is the highest lake in the Pacific Basin. Plus when you climb Mauna Kea, you are hiking the highest mountain in Hawaiʻi, in the Pacific Rim, and the highest sea mountain in the world.

Mauna Kea is named for the Hawaiian sky god Wākea, making this a sacred mountain. Please remember this as you climb. Do not litter or remove anything from the island you are not permitted to.

Honor the tumultuous history of this mountain. There are still many activists protesting the 30 Meter Telescope and further development of Maunakea, as it is just that sacred to the kānaka maoli.

A note about “leaving no trace”: this is a Western concept that is not practiced by many Indigenous groups. You may see some offerings made by the Native Hawaiʻians to the goddess of Maunakea, Poliʻahu; however, this is not needed by outsiders as it can be offensive if done incorrectly.

You absolutely should not interfere with anyone you see leaving an offering, as this is not your place as a visitor. “Leave no trace” does not apply to Indigenous people following their ancestral Indigenous practices, and enforcing this on them is a form of cultural erasure.

In addition to these massive Big Island summit hikes on Saddle Road, there are plenty of shorter hikes you can do.

Puʻu ʻo‘o Trail (8.3 miles), Pu’u Kalepeamoa Loop (1.3 or 3.8 miles), or Kaūmana Trail (2.7 miles) are some other great options for this area.

Puna District

Views of the sea and black lava rocks of recent eruptions of Kilauea from Kalapana for sunset, Puna district, Big island, Hawaii

The only district not fully covered in this article includes the Puna District. This is where a lot of the rainfall on the island occurs.

If the lava is flowing in the right direction, you can access the lava flow from the Puna District. Hiking on the Kalapana Lava Fields to see lava pouring from the mountainside is truly awe-inspiring.

I hope you get to experience it when you visit the Big Island. There are many beautiful spots along the Red Road to explore, as well. Puna is a really special part of the island, so don’t count it out!

***

The Big Island is full of adventure and learning opportunities, where you can learn the history of these islands through connecting with its nature and its beauty.

Show up with an open heart and an open mind full of curiosity, and the island will embrace you. Honor the ancient and present-day Native Hawai’ians through educating yourself and taking care of this sacred place.

It is full of jaw-dropping views and incredible experiences, so leave it just as beautiful as you found it. Enjoy your exploration as you hike the Big Island!

7 Delightful Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

So, you’re here because you have a hunger for adventure. We love to see it! Whether you’re a Denver native or a tourist planning a future trip or currently visiting the area, we’ve got some great, dog-friendly options for you!

Boasting vivid landscapes of forests, mountains, mesas, high plains, plateaus, canyons, desert lands and rivers, Colorado is one of the most beautiful states of the southwestern United States.

Denver, the capital and most popular city, is known as the “Mile High City” because its official elevation measures at exactly one mile above sea level! (Bet you tourists didn’t know that one!)

This means that hikes near Denver require a little extra stamina due to the lower oxygen levels at elevation, so don’t be surprised if a hike marked as ‘easy’ ends up leaving you feeling a little winded! It’s just one thing to prepare for before visiting Denver.

Denver is where the great outdoors, and Mama Earth, meet urban and artsy sophistication. What people adore about this treasure of a city is that, as mentioned, it offers the best of both worlds. Denver’s an outdoor city with renowned cultural attractions.

It’s got buzzing craft breweries for you beer-drinkers (pun intended,) chef-driven dining your tastebuds will come to worship, bumping music scenes for the dancing folk, and the Rocky Mountains just around the corner.

Alright, you’ve been let in on our little secret: We love this city.

What’s one of the best ways to experience it, you ask? Day hikes.

A day hike refers to a hike that can be completed in a day. (Yeah, nothing gets past you, huh?)

No, really, that may sound obvious but knowing hiking lingo is quite important for this hobby or pastime. Hiking for multiple days, for example, is referred to as backpacking.

The common rule of thumb is that the average hiking extraordinaire can generally walk between 2.5 and 3.5 miles per hour. So, with that estimation in mind, a trained walker can walk up to 20 to 30 miles per day.

A day hike can be any amount you can walk while the sun is up!

The Best Dog-Friendly Day Hikes in Denver

North Table Mountain

View of North Table Mountain, seen at sunset, surrounded by a small town, a mesa with a flat top.

This mountain is more of a mesa. A mesa is an isolated, flat-topped hill with steep sides. When the sun rises, you’ll see the details of its steep sides framed by the lower surrounding town of Golden, Colorado.

Trails stretch in abundance waiting for hikers, photographers and mountain bikers alike.

This is perfect for walkers who may not have tons of spare time on their hands, but are in need of a good stretch of the legs and breath of fresh air to their lungs.

The trails of Table Mountain are accessible year-round; however, it’s the most beautiful and picturesque during the spring and early summer months when flowers start to bloom.

In their unique and unruly wildness, each petal reaches towards the sky and serves as a reminder that the loveliest things are free.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 2.7 – 7.7 miles

Duration: ~ 1-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Leashed only

Drive Time From Denver: 25 minutes

Meyer Ranch Open Space Park

Yellow house with red shutters near the Meyer Ranch open space with evergreen trees on a hillside

Extending 30 minutes outside of Denver, Meyer Ranch offers three different hiking options. That’s what makes this spot so great, there’s something for everyone, from easy to moderate.

You’ll see meadows so big they could swallow you whole, vibrant flowers, as well as your friendly neighborhood deer and elk.

Bonus activities here include going on a mountain bike ride or picnic. It’s a fantastic area in Aspen Park and the relatively new ramada makes the perfect spot to bust out the snacks for a picnic!

Additionally, if you’re stopping by during the winter, there are perfect hills for sledding!

We’ve mapped out three dog-friendly hikes near Denver in Meyer Ranch below!

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 2.4 – 4.8 miles round trip

Duration: ~ 1 – 2.5 hours round trip

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Dogs: Leashed only

Drive Time From Denver: 30 minutes

Hike Options in Meyer Ranch

Lodgepole Loop (3 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South

Straight left down to next junction →
Continue right to the Lodgepole Loop for 1.2 miles →
Arrive back to Owl’s Perch Trail
Going left will bring you back to the parking lot

Sunny Aspen Trail Loop (3 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South
Straight left down to next junction →
Continue right to the Lodgepole Loop for 0.6 miles →
Take right onto Sunny Aspen Trail for 0.8 miles to return to Lodgepole Loop
Going left will bring you back to the parking lot

Old Ski Run Trail (4.8 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South
Straight left down to next junction for .2 mile →
Go left onto the Sunny Aspen Trail for .5 mile →
Arrive at Old Ski Run Trail
The Ski Run trail loops 2 miles out and back →
Return the way you came via Sunny Aspen Trail

Chautauqua in Boulder

Three peaks showing a cliff face of granite, covered in evergreen trees, with yellow and bright green grass in the foreground, on an overcast day hiking near Denver.

The Chautauqua Trail has 1,747 reviews and 4.5 stars on one single trail review site. So, yeah, you could say it’s a crowd favorite!

This heavily trafficked hike leads to many other popular trails such as the Royal Arch and Flat Irons. So, if you’re just getting started at the end of the Chautauqua, you can always hit one of the other treks as well!

On the Chautauqua, you can expect a lot of width, a little incline, and a boatload of wildflowers, vistas, and views of the rugged Flat Irons.

Fun (historical) fact: This is the only Chautauqua west of the Mississippi River that continues in unbroken operation since the peak of the Chautauqua Movement of the 1920s.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 3.6 miles

Duration: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Leashed Only

Drive Time From Denver: 35 minutes

South Boulder Peak

Yellow grass with light snow on the ground, a scattering of evergreen trees on the ground, with a triangular mountain peak, with a partly cloudy sky.

We needed to have a difficult one on the list for all you weathered day-hikers!

South Boulder Peak will demand a lot out of you! It’s a 3.7-mile hike one way nestled above the South Mesa.

In the famous Flatirons, near Boulder, hikers can also hit Bear Peak and return through the Fern Canyon for an 8.7-mile loop.

If a tiring (but, rejuvenating!) thrill is what you seek, South Boulder Peak is just that. You’ll be stunned by the views. Don’t take our word for it.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 7.4 miles round trip or 8.7 mile loop

Duration: ~ 3 – 5 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Dogs: Leashed Only

Drive Time From Denver: 45 minutes

Tips for Day Hiking Near Denver

Red rock covered in a green mossy sheen, with hiking path visible in the distance, on a hike near Denver

Day hikes are fantastic for beginner hikers to hone in on and build up their skills, no matter how newfound those may be.

The key takeaway I want to imprint on new day hikers is this: Research, research, research. Find trails that are well-marked, well-maintained, and will be easy to get to and from your stay.

You never know how tired you will be when you’re finished with the hike, and want to make sure you aren’t too far from “home.”

Be sure to study a map before you begin your trek. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Scope out the area to consider how hard it will be for you in terms of time and energy.
  2. Make a note of water sources if you are not bringing your own. If you aren’t, be sure to bring a water filtration system like the GRAYL water bottle, which can filter any potentially contaminated water from an unmaintained source and make it perfectly safe to drink.
  3. Decide ahead of time your calculation of when to turn back and at what time. Be realistic about your energy level and also keep in mind what time during the day this will all take place, especially if it is a new spot. You don’t want to run out of daylight and get turned around!
  4. If you’re tackling a sunset hike or a sunrise hike, be sure to bring a headlamp. In fact, this is just good practice no matter what time of day you’re hiking. It’s lightweight but could save you from a nasty tumble in the dark or worse, getting disoriented, if your hike ends up being in the dark longer than you expect.
  5. Anticipate landmarks. That way, if you take a wrong turn, you’ll notice and know what to look out for.

Finally, pack a lunch so that midday you can take care of your body, soul and mind! Exercise is key, but in order to take on the challenge to your best ability, rest and nutrients are just as important… if not more important!

To piggyback on the previous point, a small sack or pack to store your food and water source will be of GREAT value to your trip. Pack smart as to not weigh yourself down but, with that, be strategic in choosing the right essentials!

Why Hike Near Denver?

Paved path with sandstone orange rock formations forming peaks in the sky

In case you run into any motivation issues while hitting that alarm button and planning to head to the trails, we’re gonna end this thang with some health benefits.

So, bring on the phenomenal benefits:

  • Reduced risk for heart disease
  • Lower stress levels
  • Enhanced mental state due to endorphins
  • Improved mood
  • Increased control over healthy weight
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower body fat
  • Improvement in bone density
  • Increase in coordination and flexibility
  • Enhanced connection with others
  • Better quality of life
  • Lots of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D!

So, despite your achy legs, you’re gaining countless benefits. And, in Denver?

We may be a little bit biased, but we’d say you’re combining the best activity with the best location. You. Just. Can’t. Beat. It. Folks.

We hope this guide of dog-friendly hikes in Denver was everything you needed and more, as well as the navigation, tips, tricks, and health benefits.

We’d love to hear about your Denver hiking experiences below! As well as any day hiking information you may be itching to share with us.

Pin This Guide to Day Hikes Near Denver

11 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

With over 734 miles of scenic hiking trails, Glacier National Park has a wealth of hiking to explore.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from a family-friendly boardwalk hike around the massive old-growth cedars near Lake McDonald to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the best day hikes in Glacier National Park you won’t want to miss!

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier

Brilliant turquoise blue water surrounded by white glacial ice, with green grass with red wildflowers on the edge, surrounded by tall mountain edges lightly covered in snow.

Mileage: 10 miles or 7 miles using the boat shuttle

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The Many Glacier Valley in Glacier National Park is a true hiking paradise. One of the most commonly suggested hikes in this area is to see Grinnell Glacier. There are at least 35 named glaciers in the park, and Grinnell is one of the most accessible.

Now, let’s talk about how to get there…

From the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, hike along the north shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. The mountain views from this section of the trail are beautiful!

The trail doesn’t begin to gain much elevation until you have passed the lakes. The last 3 miles are fairly steep, but at least there are plenty of wildflowers to occupy your attention as you climb. Seeing a glacier up close is worth the effort!

If you’re short on time or can’t manage a 10-mile hike, you can shave off 3 miles from the trek by using the park shuttle boats. Taking the shuttle boats costs a small fee and may require advanced registration. The boats can be used to shuttle across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine.

Grinnell Glacier Alternative: Grinnell Lake Trail

Male hiker wearing blue jacket and blue backpack sitting after doing some Glacier National Park hiking, looking over the teal colored Grinnell Lake, surrounded by mountains dusted with some remaining snow.

Mileage: 7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The trail to Grinnell Glacier can hold snow for much longer than the lake trail below.

If hiking through snowfields on a steep trail sounds uncomfortable, you can still enjoy a nice view of Grinnell Glacier from a lower elevation at Grinnell Lake.

Hikers can also use the boat shuttle to eliminate a few hiking miles.

St. Mary and Virginia Falls

Waterfall cascading over a cliff, with trees surrounded the edges of the cliff with a small sunburst poking through the trees.

Mileage: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 450 feet

Hiking in Glacier National Park isn’t complete without a trip to St. Mary and Virginia Falls!

At the western end of St. Mary Lake, there is trailhead parking for the falls. You can also use the shuttle bus to get to this scenic waterfall trail.

Once you’re at the trailhead, hike downhill toward the St. Mary River. You will mostly be hiking through a historic burn area, which has beautiful wildflowers every spring.

Soon after you reach the river, you will come across St. Mary Falls. Take the bridge across St. Mary River to continue on your way toward Virginia Falls.

You can continue hiking on what is now the Continental Divide Trail for as long as you’d like, or flip around and head back to the trailhead.

Avalanche Lake

Green mountains with waterfalls cascading down the sides of it, towards the pool at the bottom that is Avalanche Lake, surrounded by pine trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Early in the springtime, many of the park roads are still closed for snow removal. Avalanche Lake is one of the first alpine lake trails to become accessible as the roads reopen!

From the Trail of Cedars Trailhead, follow signs to the Avalanche Lake Trail. The trail climbs steadily uphill while paralleling the icy blue waters of Avalanche Creek.

For a more secluded experience, continue 0.7 miles to the other end of the lake. It’s arguably a better view than the main beach!

Trail of Cedars

The brilliant turquoise Avalanche Creek, surrounded by mossy boulders and cedar trees on this easy Glacier National Park hike.

Mileage: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

The Trail of Cedars can be wandered before or after visiting Avalanche Lake.

The area includes boardwalks that weave through the impressive cedar trees.

There are plenty of interesting interpretive displays to read through and if you look carefully you may be able to spot the resident deer roaming around. This is a great place to wander with young or new hikers!

Redrock Falls

Small cascade over red rocks at Redrock Falls, a popular hike in Glacier National Park, surrounded by trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 285 feet

Head to the end of the road in the Many Glacier Valley to access this scenic waterfall. Park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

You will come to the cascading waterfall after about 2 miles of hiking. Many small side trails wander around the falls offering different viewpoints.

If you were hoping to spot a moose during your trip to Glacier National Park, this is your best bet! Moose frequent the wetland area about 1.5 miles into the trail.

No luck? Take the short detour to Fishercap Lake and scan the shoreline. The best times to spot moose are in the mornings and evenings.

The first best part of this hike is the waterfall, but the second-best is that it ends close to the general store, which sells huckleberry ice cream!

Swiftcurrent Pass

View of glacial mountains which have eroded to leave a valley behind, covered in green grass and foliage, with small emerald greenish-blue lakes in the deep valley below it.

Mileage: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,766 feet

Often considered the most challenging day hike in Glacier National Park, the trail to Swiftcurrent Pass is full of outstanding views, alpine meadows, emerald lakes, and wildlife. If you are rugged enough to take on this trail, you won’t be disappointed by the beauty it holds!

As you would if you were hiking to Redrock Falls, park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the appropriately named trail. You will get to see Redrock Falls, Redrock Lake, and Bullhead Lake along the way. Both lakes offer great views and provide excellent habitat for moose!

Soon after Bullhead Lake, you will begin your ascent up toward the pass. Make your climb up the many switchbacks for an excellent view of the valley below. The trail is pretty narrow and steep in some spots, which doesn’t pair particularly well with a fear of heights.

Iceberg Lake

Blue glacial water topped with some unmelted glacial ice, surrounded by reddish-brown rocks lit up orange-red by the last of the afternoon light, on a popular hike in Glacier National Park

Mileage: 9.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,450 feet

Begin your trek to Iceberg Lake from the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead, which is nearby the trailhead used to access Redrock Falls and Swiftcurrent Pass.

From the trailhead, follow signs to stay on the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trail. Soon after you reach Ptarmigan Fall, you will arrive at a junction. Here, you will veer left and follow the Iceberg Trail.

Your efforts will be rewarded with an epic view of the emerald blue lake and floating ice chunks. The lake is surrounded by 2,000’ tall cliffs that are frequented by mountain goats.

In addition to the goats and bighorn sheep you will probably see, keep an eye out for moose, bear, and deer. This trail is a wildlife photographer’s dream!

Highline Trail

A dirt path winding through the beautiful green mountains of Glacier National Park, with some purple wildflowers and views of the other glacial mountains in the park.

Mileage: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,578 feet

Due to the long mileage and difficulty of this scenic hiking trail, it is often done as an overnight backpacking trip. Although challenging, seasoned hikers could make this particular trek in a single day.

For those wishing to embark on a multi-day adventure, the Highline Trailhead is the starting point for endless miles of exploring, including a popular route that traverses most of the park.

Park at the Logan Pass Parking Area or take the shuttle bus to access the trailhead. You’ll want to get on the trail early! Follow signs to Highline Trail and begin your steady climb up. This scenic trail will bring you along the garden wall followed by an opportunity to detour to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Adding the detour to Grinnell Glacier makes the total distance closer to 17 miles.

Continuing on, you will  eventually reach the Granite Park Chalet, which historically provided accommodations for visitors to Glacier National Park. Now, it is a National Historic Landmark and a comfortable backcountry camp for backpackers.

After taking in the view at the chalet, head back the way you came toward Logan Pass. Keep an eye out for wildlife, there are many reports of hikers encountering grizzly bear and mountain goats!

This trail is very exposed, and anyone with a sensitivity to heights is encouraged to seek other options.

Upper McDonald Creek Trail

Brilliant emerald-turquoise waters at Upper McDonald Creek, surrounded by rocks covered in green moss and trees.

Mileage: 5 miles

Elevation Gain: 278 feet

Hikers of all levels will love this scenic creek-side trail. Beginning from the Upper McDonald Creek Trailhead, which is only a short drive past Lake McDonald.

The trail starts by wandering through an old-growth forest. This section of trail is a common place to spot grazing mule deer. As you continue, you will encounter the glacial-blue Upper McDonald Creek.

This is an out and back trail, so continue as far as you feel comfortable before turning around and heading back toward the trailhead.

Florence Falls Trail

Mileage: 9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,174 feet

This is just one of the many spectacular waterfalls in Glacier National Park. Begin this out and back hike at the Jackson Glacier Overlook, where there is a good amount of parking available.

Along the way, you’ll pass Deadwood Falls. This 10’ falls may be stout, but it’s quite loud as it spills into Reynolds Creek. The main event is further down the trail.

Florence Falls is a tower of cascading falls. Each cascade ranged in height from 30 to 50 feet! Bear frequent this trail in the springtime because of the abundance of cow parsnip that grows in the area.

Be bear-aware anytime you are hiking in Glacier National Park!

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The 10 Best Grand Teton Day Hikes

Many people travel to Grand Teton National Park to get a glimpse of the iconic Teton Range, scout out some of the area’s diverse wildlife, and go on a scenic hike in the Tetons.

With over 200 miles of beautiful hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, there’s no shortage of choices.

Every experience level and age group can find a trail they will enjoy from a family-friendly nature walk in Colter Bay to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Load up your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget to pack the bear spray. These are the best day hikes that Grand Teton National Park has to offer!

Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Taggart and Brady Lakes

Still lake at Taggart Lake reflecting the Teton range above it, surrounded by trees, rocks, and foliage.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 585 feet

A trip to Grand Teton National Park is not complete without a hike to Taggart and Brady Lakes. These lakes are nearby each other and are both worth visiting.

Being such a scenic hike, this is a well-well-trafficked trail. With that said, there is limited parking at the Taggert Lake Trailhead, and arriving early is highly recommended so you can find a parking spot easily.

Take in the stunning views of Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, from the parking area. When you are ready to get your blood flowing, depart from the trailhead and hit the trail. When you come to the first trail junction, veer right and follow the sign toward Taggart Lake Trail.

A little farther down the trail, you will come to yet another junction. The trail is very well marked. Just remember you are following the signs to Taggart and Brady Lakes! A map helps too!

Next, cross the sturdy footbridge over Taggart Creek. Look upstream to get a glimpse of the cascading waterfall. The trail begins to climb a bit starting here. Make your way through the forest of lodgepole pines and thick aspen groves.

After you’ve hiked about 1 mile, you will come to another trail junction. Heading left will take you to Taggart Lake. However, if you wish to visit both of the lakes keep right and check out Brady Lake first. Just a little way farther, and you will be rewarded with multiple scenic overlooks of Taggert Lake!

Once you come to the Valley Trail Junction, keep right and you will shortly arrive at the shores of Bradly Lake. When you are finished soaking up the Teton views, head back to the Valley Trail Junction and take the Valley Trail this time to get a closer look at Taggart Lake and complete the loop back to the trailhead.

String and Leigh Lake

Narrow footbridge crossing a section of String Lake surrounded by green trees at the start of this Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Begin your hike at the String Lake Picnic Area. At the trailhead, you will find stunning mountain views from the sandy beach at String Lake. This is a great spot to refuel with some lunch or cool off with a dip in the chilly lake.

The trail wraps around the shore of String Lake until you come to a junction that will lead toward Leigh Lake. Unlike String Lake, accessing the shore of Leigh lake can be a little trickier. Keep an eye out for a well-used trail down to the lakeshore.

From Leigh Lake, continue back the way you came and complete the loop around String Lake. For a much longer hike, you can choose to hike to Bear Lake from Leigh Lake. This would add an additional 4 miles to the hike.

Jenny Lake: Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls

Giant boulders in front of the view from Inspiration Point, showing lots of evergreen trees in front of a brilliant blue lake with some clouds on the horizon but an otherwise clear sky.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 330 feet

If you make a visit to hike in Grand Teton National Park, definitely plan for a stop at Jenny Lake! There is so much to do at Jenny Lake, it is well worth dedicating a half-day to.

Who doesn’t love a waterfall hike? The hike to Hidden Falls is one of the most beautiful in the park. This trail is short enough that it is considered a novice and great for families. Hop on the boat shuttle at the docking area. This will cut off about 5 miles from the hike and offer beautiful mountain views as you cross the lake. There is a small fee for taking the boat shuttle.

Once on the other side of the lake, begin your hike on the Cascade Canyon Trail. The trail climbs quite a bit before reaching Hidden Falls and the viewing area. Hidden Falls is a towering 100’ and is often regarded as the most scenic waterfall in Grand Teton National Park!

Continue on your way up to Inspiration Point. Since it is less than a half-mile from Hidden Falls, it’s worth the climb, but if your legs are exhausted, you can always choose to turn back to the boat dock. Inspiration Point offers a great view of Jenny Lake and the distant mountains.

Jenny Lake Loop

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park along the perimeter of Jenny Lake, a brilliant sapphire blue lake surrounded by rocks and pine trees.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 275 feet

This scenic loop around Jenny Lake offers countless photo opportunities and chances to gaze up at the stunning peaks known as the Cathedral Group in the Teton Range!

The loop begins at the Jenny Lake Trailhead and stays fairly close to the lake throughout the entire hike. This is a great long hike for those hoping to avoid super strenuous hills or elevation gain.

Along the way, you can choose to veer off to visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which are mentioned previously.

If you were hoping to experience solitude while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, this may not be the ideal trail for you. Although scenic and rewarding, this is a very popular trail. The road is nearby part of the trail too, and it can interrupt the quiet of nature at times.

Phelps Lake Overlook

View over the sapphire blue Phelps Lake surrounded by pine forest on a clear, cloudless day with mountains on the horizon.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

The Phelps Lake overlook is a fairly easy hike that wanders through a pine forest and aspen groves before opening up to a scenic viewpoint. This hike begins at the Death Canyon Trailhead, which is located at the end of a rutted dirt road.

From the trailhead, you will enter the forest and follow the well-maintained trail for 1 mile. Phelps Lake sits at over 7,000’ in elevation and is a common place to spot moose and waterfowl.

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail

Still lake reflecting back the mountains and foliage above it, covered in some light snow that hasn't yet melted.

Distance: 10.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet

This hike is perfect for anyone looking for a low-mileage overnight backpacking trip or a challenging day hike! At just over 10 miles round trip, you can expect the first half of the trail to be an uphill slog. However, the dessert of this rugged incline is two pristine alpine lakes surrounded by beautiful rocky cliffs.

Begin the trek at the Lupine Meadow Trailhead and head toward Glacier Gulch. After many switchbacks, you will first reach Surprise Lake. A little farther down the trail awaits Amphitheater Lake.

Lake Solitude

Green and brown grass, with some pine trees sparsely populating the landscape, and a tiny blue lake at the foot of mountains on a remote Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,350 feet

Another hike that begins at Jenny Lake is the beautiful hike to Lake Solitude. Surrounded by mighty peaks, Lake Solitude is a great challenge for anyone looking to experience an alpine lake, possible wildlife sightings, and seasonal wildflowers.

The hike to Lake Solitude begins just like the hike to Inspiration Point, with a boat ride across Jenny Lake. This time, when you make it up to Inspiration Point, you will continue climbing on the trail instead of turning around.

The trail will level out a bit after Inspiration Point as you enter into Cascade Canyon. In the early summer, you will see a variety of colorful wildflowers. As you always should while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, be bear aware as you make your way deeper into the canyon.

The trail passes by a series of ponds before the scenery transformed into a pine forest. Keep trekking along until you finally arrive at the lake!

Lake Solitude sits just above 9,000’ in elevation and should only be tackled by experienced hikers that are prepared for a challenge.

Christian Pond Loop

A blue river or pond surrounded by yellowing grass with some low mountains behind it

Distance: 3.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 250 feet

This easy loop is well-known for wildlife and wildflowers!

Begin your hike to Christian Pond from the trailhead parking next to the horse corrals at the Jackson Lake Lodge. As you approach the pond, be on the lookout for moose and elk grazing as well as trumpeter swans gliding through the shallow water.

The trail leads to the shores of Emma Matilda Lake before looping back toward the trailhead. Take a little detour and hike along the lake’s edge. Another great spot for wildlife viewing! When you’ve taken in all in head back to the Christian Pond Loop and back to the trailhead.

Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail

A mostly still lake reflecting the mountains of the Teton Range beautifully in its glassy, slightly rippled surface.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 150’

The Lakeshore Trail in Colter Bay is a perfect walk for families or anyone new to hiking in a national park! The trail is made up of two scenic loops and can be shortened as necessary to meet your experience and comfort level.

From the Colter Bay Visitor Center, walk toward the marina and find the trailhead for the Lakeshore Trail. From the trail, hikers can easily access the rocky shore of Jackson Lake to take photos or scout for wildlife.

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7 Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of Southern California’s iconic parks, known for its trails and hikes. Its dreamy terrain expands over 800,000 acres providing 114 hiking trails, running tracks, viewing trails, and much more.

The stunning views and rewarding hikes attract thousands of visitors to Joshua Tree each year.

If you are planning to visit the park, you can go for the best hikes in Joshua Tree for a good workout. It will be unjust to the magnificent setting if you won’t lace up your hiking boots once you are there.

While it is not easy to pick a favorite, here are seven best hikes in Joshua Tree that will make your trip worthwhile.

All About Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree National Park gets its name from the Yucca brevifolia or Joshua tree. With about 800,000 acres of park, Joshua Tree provides dozens of experiences for people from around the world.

Apart from the park’s namesake trees, you will find other exotic flora, whimsical rocks, and dozens of trails waiting to be explored. The amazing hiking, biking, and horse riding trails make Joshua Tree one of America’s most attractive rock climbing places.

In spring, the place is laden with wildflowers so tourists can enjoy wildflower viewing and appreciate the exotic wilderness.

When the night comes, the desert sky clears out, revealing thousands of stars worth gazing at. The park is an ideal site for photography as every design looks like an artist sketched it.

It makes for a great fit for any type of trip whether that’s family, solo or as a couple. Use the awesome family travel hacks if you plan to go as a family to ensure you have everything prepared to make for an amazing trip.

7 Best Hikes in Joshua Tree

One of the best experiences of Joshua Tree is hiking along the magnificent trails of the park. If you are seeking a steep hike, you’ve got ten mountain peaks rising to the skies with an elevation of 5,000 ft.

Or, you can explore Joshua Tree’s five fan oases that display the most splendid sights.

Lace-up your shoes and bring your favorite travel backpack because we have listed down seven best hikes in Joshua Tree that are too tempting to resist.

Hidden Valley Trail

The Hidden Valley Trail lies in the heart of Joshua Tree Park, right after Park Blvd. While you hike around the 1-mile loop, you can experience a little piece of history in the Hidden Valley, which was once popular with castle thieves who would hide their loot there.

Natives strongly believe that the entrance of the Hidden Valley — the beginning of the trail — was created by Keys, who wanted to make a larger entrance for his castle.

The Hidden Valley Trail is an easy hike through giant rocks and boulders adorned by different trees and cacti varieties. You will also find picnic tables and BBQ grills along the trail to stop and have lunch. It is a great hike for people of all ages looking for an easy and fun hiking adventure.

Barker Dam Nature Trail

Barker Dam Nature Trail is another short 1.4 miles hike located east of the Hidden Valley. The trail is almost like a stroll through splendid scenery with giant rock formations. There is also a wide variety of flora along the trail as you enter into the open valley where you will find the dam.

The Barker Dam was built a long time back to collect water for livestock. There is also an old stone horse trough by the dam, and the water collected there attracts all kinds of birds.

When the dam is filled up, you are likely to find wildlife along the hike too. It’s a good hike when the dam is full, but make sure to look out for the bighorn sheep.

Ryan Mountain Trail

One of the most popular and best hikes in Joshua Tree is the Ryan Mountain Trail. It is a 3-mile hike to reach the summit of the mountain. While it’s a short trail, you will have to climb over a 1000 ft for 1.5 miles from the desert sands to the summit.

The hike is nowhere near a stroll. But, once you get to the top, it will be well worth the effort.  From the top, you can have a panoramic view of Joshua Tree Park and even enjoy a snack while watching the sunset.

Boy Scout Trail

A classic hike in Joshua Tree Park, Boy Scout Trail is a seven-mile trip that lets you discover the Wonderland of Rocks. If you hike deeper into the rocks, you will find the secret haven of dense willow trees.

With only 400 ft of elevation, the hike is a favorite of photographers and backpackers who are looking for some solitude and, of course, wildflowers.

About 3.5 miles in, your turn-around spot will be Willow Hole. It is a water source circled by lush green vegetation and desert wildlife. If you see some water there, you might want to stick around the area as you might encounter the bighorn sheep too.

Cholla Cactus Garden Loop

One of the shortest and best hikes in Joshua Tree, Cholla Cactus Garden Loop, is a hike through the Colorado Desert cactus garden. The view of thousands of natural cholla cactus makes the trail a must-see for every park visitor.

If you walk too close to the Cholla Cactus, it might jump onto your skin or clothes, which is why it is also known as Jumping Cactus.

The area is great for photography throughout the day. But, watch out for the cactus needles in the dark as they are a bit hard to get off.

Warren Peak Trail

If you are looking for a longer hiking experience, the six-mile Warren Peak Trail is the one for you. Although the last few miles are very steep, the trail is moderate for the most part.

The route is unique because you will find fewer Joshua trees and more pinyon, oak, and juniper trees along the way. You will also come across the Black Rock Spring, a source of water for the wildlife.

At the end of the trail, you will have a view of the western part of Joshua Tree. You will also be able to admire the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and San Bernardino Mountains.

Before hiking the Warren Peak Trail, you want to plan out a few things.

As the trail is exposed to the sun, you have to stay prepared with enough water and sunscreen. Some parts of the trail are more sandy, which might affect your pace. Therefore, pick your timings wisely.

Wall Street Mine Trail

All the history lovers out there will love the 2.8 mile Wall Street Mine Trail. It is one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree for learning the history of the park. In the 1900s, Bill Keys processed gold ore in the Wall Street Mine.

The miners carted the ore to the top of the hill, where they crushed it into the sand. They mixed the sand with water and mercury to wash away the useless gravel with water.

If you hike the trail, you can explore the ruins of the gold past. These include the preserved gold mine area and a gravestone. On your way to the mine, you’ll come across the ruins of Wonderland Ranch and an old windmill that pumped water from the mill.

Make sure you have at least two hours to fully explore all the colorful ancient history.

Know Before You Go

Before you go hiking in Joshua Tree, you should know a few things about the location and climate.

Since the park consists of two deserts, the temperature can soar up pretty quickly during summer, early fall, and late spring. The high temperature and dry air can make hiking extremely difficult for some people. So, try to apart yourself to the climate before going for longer or tougher hikes.

If you are visiting Joshua Tree in summer, you can also eliminate any potential risks by an early start, carrying plenty of water, and wearing enough sunscreen to stay protected.

We recommend that you visit the park in spring when the temperature is mild, and the flowers are blooming everywhere. Fall is also a good time to visit the park, but the air can be dry during this time, so stay prepared. In winters, the area gets cold enough to force you to put on layers of clothing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are no services in the park. So, you will have to carry everything you will need during the day, including water, food, sunscreen, and a first-aid kit. Since the area is pretty rocky, you also want to carry your best hiking boots for a tension-free adventure.

Conclusion

Joshua Tree is a great place for nature lovers seeking adventure, beauty, and some action in their hiking boots. The park provides its visitors with endless opportunities to explore the history of the region to its depths.

No matter which hike you pick from our list of best hikes in Joshua Tree, you will fall in love with the scenic views, unique flora, and impressive wildlife in the park.

Author Bio: Via Travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure! Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

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9 Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels of Hikers

With over 900 miles of hiking trails, Yellowstone National Park has plenty of beautiful terrains to explore on foot.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from stroller-friendly boardwalk trails abound the colorful geysers near Old Faithful to challenging mountain summits that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the 10 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park you won’t want to miss!

The Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels

Fairy Falls

Distance: 2.5 miles (5 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Who doesn’t love a scenic waterfall hike in Yellowstone? Fairy Falls is arguably the m ost beautiful waterfall in Yellowstone National Park, but lesser-known than Tower Falls, Upper Falls, and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

Fairy Falls is most commonly accessed from the Midway Geyser Basin near Grand Prismatic. To hike to Fairy Falls from the Midway Geyser Basin, park in the Fairy Falls Parking Area about 1 mile south of the geyser basin parking.

From the parking area, cross the bridge over the Firehole River and follow signs to Fairy Falls. After about a half-mile of hiking, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful overlooking view of the Midway Geyser Basin including Grand Prismatic.

This is a perfect spot to stop for photos! The Yellowstone hike to Fairy Falls is about 2.5 miles each way, with under 250 ft of elevation gain. Once you arrive at the falls, you’ll be blown away by the water’s free fall from 200 ft above!

Before you head into the park, check with a park ranger or online for trail conditions. The Fairy Falls Trail is closed in the springtime for bear management.

Avalanche Peak

Distance: 2.1 miles (4.3 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation gain: 2,100 feet

Extraordinary views of Yellowstone Lake, remote wilderness, and towering alpine peaks wait at the summit of Avalanche Peak.

At 10,574 ft high, Avalanche Peak is a challenging Yellowstone hike fit for experienced hikers with tolerance to steep terrain and high elevation.

One of Yellowstone National Park’s more physically demanding day hikes is also one of the most rewarding.

Roundtrip, this tough Yellowstone hike is about 4.3 miles. In the first 2.1 miles heading to the summit, the elevation gain is a whopping 2,100 ft!

The switchbacking trail that leads to the summit offers stunning views the entire way.

This trail is not recommended during September or October as grizzly bear activity heightens in the months leading up to their winter hibernation. Always hike in groups, make noise, carry bear spray, and be bear aware whenever hiking in bear country.

Winter is also not recommended due to high levels of snowfall.

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Note: Temporarily closed: check here for updates or check AllTrails trip reports for up-to-date information.

Distance: 0.6 miles (1.2 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy in length, but lots of stairs, so more like moderate for those with bad knees/mobility limitations
Elevation gain: 350 feet

The view from the observation deck at the base of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone is a must-see for anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Located in the Canyon Area at the South Rim, this heavily trafficked trail takes hikers from the top of the canyon down 328 steps to the base of the Lower Falls, which is a towering 308 ft high!

The hike down into the canyon is no problem with the well-crafted staircase, but keep in mind you’ll have to climb back out. There are many comfortable places to rest on the return hike, and it’s not a race to the finish.

The original trail, constructed by Uncle Tom Richardson in the 1800s, was not as you see it today. Before the well-constructed series of staircases and switchbacks, the trail was made primarily of rope ladders, which brought hikers down to the base of the falls.

Tower Fall Overlook

Note: At time of writing, this beloved Yellowstone hike is closed. Check AllTrails data for recent updates to see if it’s opened back up!

Distance: 0.9 miles (1.8 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Check out the epic 132 ft drop of Tower Creek from the Tower Fall Observation Point! The waterfall is ominously framed by towering pinnacle rock formations, which give the creek its name.

Access to the observation point is very convenient! From the roadside parking area, head towards the trailhead, which is just past the general store.

There’s a popular overlook that’s a short walking distance from the parking area and another that involves covering a little more effort. The second viewpoint includes a 1-mile round trip walk down to the Yellowstone River towards the bottom of the falls.

Unfortunately, the trail ends short of the waterfall’s base due to a mudslide in 2004, but the riverside walk is enjoyable and scenic.

Reward your little hike with a treat from the general store!

Mammoth Hot Springs Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 560 feet

If you were hoping to see elk and hot springs, Mammoth is the place to be! Located nearby the North Entrance and Roosevelt Arch, Mammoth Hot Springs is a great place to get an up-close look at hot springs and even spot some wildlife!

Walk along the series of boardwalks through the variety of hydrothermal features.

Choose to stay on the Mammoth Terraces Trail to explore the Upper and Lower Terraces, which are filled with steamy multi-colored hot pots, or use this trail to access a web of remote backcountry hiking trails.

In total, there are about 1.3 miles of boardwalk available to explore around the Mammoth Hot Springs, plus the traditional trails.

There is parking at the Upper Terrace area, however, the parking area at the Lower Terrace is larger making finding a space much easier!

Mount Washburn

Note: This route may be closed — check AllTrails in advance to see if it’s changed

Distance: 3.1 miles one way (6.2 miles return) if coming from Dunraven Pass trailhead
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-6 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 1,400 ft

If you’re looking to bag a peak in Yellowstone National Park, Mount Washburn is one of the most popular summits and day hiking destinations!

The summit has panoramic views of Yellowstone’s pristine landscape, but that’s not all. The peak also has an active fire lookout, which includes interesting interpretive exhibits.

There are two trails to the summit of Mount Washburn. The first option begins out of the Dunraven Pass Trailhead and is 6.8 miles roundtrip. The second option begins at the Chittenden Road Trailhead and is the shorter route option at 5.8 miles roundtrip.

Both trails offer beautiful scenery and access to the 10,243 ft summit of Mount Washburn. Whichever trail you choose to pursue, be sure to pack all the Yellowstone day hiking essentials including food, water, layers, a trail map, and bear spray.

Keep your eyes peeled as you hike, trail users often report seeing bighorn sheep close to the summit!

Lamar River Trail (Cache Creek Trail)

Distance: 3.5 miles each way, 7 miles return
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 700 ft

The Lamar Valley is famous for its wildlife sightings and pristine prairie landscape.

While driving through the valley, it’s not uncommon to spot giant herds of bison, wolves patrolling in the hills, or a grizzly bear lumbering around the willows near the river. When visiting Yellowstone National Park, make a visit to the Lamar Valley a high-priority!

Although a drive-by view of the Lamar Valley is nice, an in-depth excursion on foot is even better!

Take one of the best hikes in Yellowstone on the Lamar River Trail/ Cache Creek Trail to explore the area’s rolling landscape, wildflowers, and wildlife. Hikers commonly see herds of bison along the way. Don’t forget to monitor the trail ahead to see who’s footprints have been left in the mud!

Begin your hike into the Lamar Valley at the Lamar River Valley Trailhead and follow the trail toward Cache Creek. The roundtrip distance is around 7 miles with about 700 ft in elevation gain.

Pro tip: Stop often and scan the hillsides using a spotting scope or binoculars to find wildlife. It can be difficult to spot wolves and bear from a distance without one of these tools since they blend so well with the landscape!

West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 60 ft

Located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch.

The boardwalk trail here is a 1-mile loop that sees lots of use in the summertime. With the astonishing views, there’s no wonder why!

The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail takes hikers along the shores of Yellowstone Lake for a closer look at the fascinating hydrothermal features. Stroll the boardwalk and take in the alpine views from this magnificent trail.

Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail

Distance: 0.7 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 15 ft

Watching the timely eruption of Old Faithful is often high on Yellowstone National Park visitor’s bucket list. Many arrive at Old Faithful without realizing how much hiking there is to do in the area!

The Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail is the perfect short Yellowstone hike to do if you have a little time to spare before the big event! At only 0.7 miles roundtrip, this trail is a nice boardwalk stroll for any experience level.

Pass by the colorful pools and bubbling pots as you make your way around the loop. Watch the time! You’ll want to be back to the Old Faithful Viewing Area with time to grab a seat for the eruption.

Old Faithful Pro Tip: If you’re not interested in watching Old Faithful from the bleachers near the visitor center with everyone else, make your way over to Observation Point in time for the event.

To get to Observation Point, find the trailhead at the end of the boardwalk near the Old Faithful Lodge and Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria. Follow the trail about 0.75 miles to an obvious lookout area.

Remember to be mindful of the natural landscape when choosing a viewing spot. Stay on the maintained trail and avoid stepping on the fragile alpine vegetation.

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I hope these tips helped you plan some fantastic Yellowstone hikes for your upcoming trip!

Pin These Best Hikes in Yellowstone!