Colorado is home to 8.3 million acres of public land and more “fourteeners” (mountains 14,000 feet high or above) than any other state. Additionally, more than 98 percent of Colorado residents live within 50 miles of at least one state park. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Coloradans are consistently some of the most outdoorsy folks in the United States.
According to one recent survey, 92 percent of Colorado residents participate in some type of outdoor activity at least once every few weeks, and 69 percent said they participate in an outdoor activity one to four times per week. The most popular recreational activities included trail-related activities, such as hiking.
Colorado hiking destinations range from accessible paved pathways to strenuous mountain trails. In this article, the Olson Law Firm, LLC explores the best hikes in Colorado for 2022 and discusses what you can expect from each unique location.
Best Hikes in Colorado for 2022
The best hiking trails in Colorado for 2022 include:
- Perkins Central Garden Trail – This easy 1.1-mile trail is accessible year-round to hikers of all skill levels. The paved trail loops through the Garden of the Gods, a famous public park in Colorado Springs with spectacular sandstone formations.
- Emerald Lake Trail – This moderately difficult 3.2-mile out-and-back trail is perfect for families and casual hikers. And with stunning alpine lakes and dramatic mountaintops, it’s easily one of the best hikes to take near Denver.
- South Canyon Trails – This 3.2-mile route is primarily for experienced hikers, but a two-way trail along the South Canyon is accessible to first-timers, too. However, be prepared for a fair amount of climbing, as the route changes elevation by some 780 feet.
- Ice Lakes Basin Trail – This 8.3-mile trail through the San Juan Mountains is hands-down one of the most stunning hikes in Colorado. Hikers rate this trail as difficult, but views of some of the bluest alpine lakes make up for the trek.
- South Colony Lakes Trail – This challenging 8.9-mile trail gains nearly 2,300 feet as hikers summit several famous Colorado fourteeners. But those who persevere are rewarded with breathtaking views of waterfalls and wild meadows.
- Crater Lake (via Monarch Lake) Trail – At 16 miles, this is the most challenging hike on our list, but it’s also one of the best hikes in the state. Backpackers should be prepared for steep, forking paths and astonishing waterfalls.
Safety Tips for Colorado Hikers
If you intend to hit the trails in Colorado this summer, always plan with the following hiking safety tips in mind:
- Check weather forecasts. Check the forecast for the day of your hike. Colorado weather can change unexpectedly, and trail closures can happen as a result.
- Bring plenty of water. Colorado is one of the driest states in the U.S., so staying hydrated is critical. Pack at least half a liter of water per person for every hour you expect to be outdoors.
- Wear appropriate gear. You’ll want sturdy hiking boots and clothing made of breathable, moisture-wicking materials. Wearing layers, including a wind-resistant layer, is always a good idea.
- Pack emergency supplies. Be sure to bring emergency supplies, such as a first-aid kit, snacks, towels, and extra clothing layers with you on your hike.
- Stay alert at all times. Colorado is full of wildlife, so keep your ears and eyes open for signs of approaching animals. The same goes for weather changes, which can quickly make a hiking trail unsafe.
- Hike with a buddy or a group. If possible, find a buddy or a small group to join you on your hike. Choose a trail appropriate for everyone’s ability levels. If you can’t find a group, let someone know where you plan to hike and when you expect to return before you leave.