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.
Chautauqua Park is filled with Boulder locals when the weather is right—and for a good reason. The park, which sits just on the edge of Boulder, is an easy way to access the Flatirons and surrounding trails. While Chautauqua is interspersed with miles and miles of trails, many find it rewarding to end at a peak or viewpoint. Hiking to the top of one of the Flatirons offers views overlooking Boulder, Denver, and the foothills. Because of the seemingly endless vistas that stretch over the plains, hiking to the top of one of the nearby Flatirons can be especially worthwhile.
Access to the Flatirons is via the Bluebell-Baird Trail. To reach this trail from the Chautauqua parking lot, follow the Chautauqua Trail. Hikes to the top of the Flatirons are generally steep and strenuous. While the views are worth it, those concerned about the difficulty might want to choose other trails within the park, which is a beautiful retreat all throughout.
Also note that, while Chautauqua trails are well marked at the bottom, even experienced hikers may get confused near the top, where trails become rocky and sometimes hard to follow. Be sure to be aware of the trail for the duration of your hike!
Other hikes nearby Chautauqua with great views and similar difficulty include Mt. Sanitas and Green Mountain (though trails near Green Mountain have recently been closed—check before you go).
Parking and restrooms are available near the Chautauqua Trailhead, at Grant & Baseline Streets in Boulder.
The City of Boulder website offers maps, trail closures, and more information.
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.