Easy Hikes in and Near Denver
Whether you are a long-time resident of the Mile High City or you are just touring Denver’s many gorgeous attractions, one of the best ways to enjoy all the natural and historic sites is by taking a hike. You can take in Denver’s many scenic vistas merely by strolling through various neighborhoods, but some of the more memorable sights may require a short drive.
How to Prepare for a Hike In Colorado
Keep in mind that hiking may sound like any other kind of walk, but it can be challenging if you encounter rough terrain, and you are not in good physical condition. If you have not completed a trail before, do not overestimate your conditioning.
It is important that you understand the inherent challenges of physical activity near Denver. The city is located 5,200 feet above sea level, so there is significantly less oxygen at this elevation. This means that you will tire much more quickly if you are not acclimatized. Your body can adjust to the less air, but it may take a couple of days before you are ready for some strenuous physical challenges.
Another important consideration is that there is also less moisture in the air at this height. You may experience dry mouth and may tire more easily. The easiest remedy is to fully hydrate before the hike and take a water bottle or two with you. Remember that alcohol will dehydrate you, so don’t drink before or during the hike.
Before you start your hike, eat foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Pasta, bread, or rice will not only provide more energy, but they will also enhance your ability to absorb oxygen. Avoid salty foods that can raise your blood pressure and simulate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Finally, take with you clothing appropriate for any weather because storms can roll in rapidly at high elevations. You should also pack flashlights, communications gear, and materials for lighting a fire, just in case.
Choosing the Right Trail
It can be tempting to pick a challenging trail to hike, but it is in your best interest to choose an easy trail, at least initially, until you acclimate to conditions and learn the terrain. One of the last things you want to do is spoil your vacation by ending up in the hospital due to a fall or health emergency.
If you are hiking with others, tell them how experienced you are at hiking and your current physical condition. If you are unsure what trail to take or about your ability to complete it, ask to accompany a guide who can make knowledgeable recommendations and assist you if you encounter difficulties.
Take frequent breaks to rest and rehydrate. Plan your hike out with the help of online resources so that you can know how often to stop and what pace you should be setting. Remember to add about an hour of travel time for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
Denver’s Most Popular Hiking Trails
With a wild assortment of beautiful mountains, forests and rivers, Denver has almost everything you could want in a hiking trail. Here are some of the favorites of Denver natives:
- Castle Rock Trail—located about 30 minutes’ drive outside of Denver, the Castle Rock Trail is a 1.3-mile hike that ends in one of the most breathtaking scenes in the area. The rock formation that the hike is named after is truly unique and worth the short hike.
- Three Sisters Trail—this popular trail is from 3.8 to 6.7 miles in length and is located near Evergreen, CO. This trail is rated for hikers of all levels including children. At the end of your hike, you will be able enjoy a unique rock formation that is surrounded by stunning evergreen trees. Although more care is needed, you can complete this hike even during the winter months.
- Coyote Song Loop—found in South Valley Park, the 3-mile Coyote Song Loop surrounds a glorious lake and rock formations. Because of the scenic landscape and its accessibility, this trail is often quite crowded.
- Red Rocks Trading Post Loop—this 1.5-mile trail is found in the world-famous Red Rocks Park. The trail weaves through some picturesque rock formations and the iconic amphitheater and concert venue. This trail is quite flat and easy so that almost anyone can complete it.
- Flatirons Vista—hailed as one of the most beautiful trails near Denver, this 3.5-mile trail is relatively easy to hike. Located in Boulder, CO, Flatirons Vista boasts some gorgeous mountaintop views that are best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset.
- Waterton Canyon—this 12.4-mile trail found in Chatfield State Park is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to brave the lush trail along the South Platte River, this can be a unique opportunity to interact with Colorado’s amazing wildlife.
- Mayflower Gulch—this is a 5.9-mile trail that wends through the White River National Forest. Along the way, expect to be stunned by the wildflowers, mountain vistas, log cabins and evergreen forests.
- St. Mary’s Glacier—another short—just 1.9 miles—but very popular trail, the St. Mary’s Glacier trail is quite steep and a little tricky. However, the awe-inspiring view of a majestic mountain lake next to the glacier should be reward enough.
- North Table Mountain and Rim Rock Loop—one of the most memorable hiking trails in Denver, the North Table Mountain and Rim Rock Loop offers rock formations, waterfalls, and local wildlife along its 8.3-mile length.
- Mount Flora Trail—this 6-mile trail found in Arapaho National Forest has the benefit of offering jaw-dropping views all along its length. You can enjoy vistas of local mountains, forests, and wildflowers. Note that the wind can be very strong along the trail, so prepare accordingly.
- Barr Trail—the Barr Trail is a daunting 21.3 miles long, but if you are in shape, you will experience some of Denver’s most incredible natural beauty including Pike’s Peak.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
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