It seems many who have never visited the Mile High City are under the misconception that Denver is really in the mountains.
Truthfully, most Rocky Mountain attractions are at least couple hours away (if you can avoid the I-70 rush). While we Denverites still consider ourselves lucky to be just a car ride away from some of the most scenic wilderness trails in the world, famed hikes such as Maroon Bells and Hanging Lake tend to require a weekend trip or longer. However, we still sit at the foot of the Rockies and have tons of easy-access hikes at our fingertips! That is, if you know where to find them. This weekend, I’m compiling a few of my favorite hikes that are an hour or less from Denver—easily done in a day.
North Table Mountain
Just outside of Golden, North Table Mountain trails lead you atop a mountain made of lava flow millions of years ago. To the west are views of the Rockies, and to the east panoramas of the plains, downtown Denver, and the Golden Valley. To reach the highest point of the mesa, use the Lichen Peak Trail. Named for the green lichen that slowly grows on the rocks, the trail is short and 0.2 miles one way. For a longer hike that takes you along the edge of the mesa, opt for the North Table Loop, which is about 6 miles long. On this trail hikers can look out for wildlife including coyote, deer, rabbits, prairie dogs, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and rattlesnakes. This trail is also a mountain-biker favorite, so be prepared to share the trail! Also know that there is little shade cover on this trail, so it can get hot on particularly sunny afternoons.
Access to the North Table Loop trailhead (by which you can reach the short Lichen Peak Trail) is on the east side of highway 93, just north of Pine Ridge road.
For a trail map or information about other trails in North Table Mountain park, visit the Jefferson County web site.
One more thing—though these trails are all relatively low elevation, remember that Colorado weather can be very unpredictable! Get off of summits and out of open spaces at the first sign of a thunderstorm.
It’s Labor Day weekend! The beginning to one of Colorado’s most beautiful seasons. Go for a hike!
LifeStyleDenver, written by Gretchen Rosenberg, provides information on Denver area recreation and real estate. If you’re interested in searching for your next Denver home, click the blue Property Search link for access to all Metro Denver IDX MLS properties.