Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take an easy stroll or a place to go full-on hiking, Metro Denver trails have it all. Here are my top picks for walking and hiking trails in Denver, Colorado.
Red Rocks Walking Trails
My all-time favorite Colorado walking place is Red Rocks, which is about 15 miles west of Denver. Also a destination for many musical performers, Red Rocks is a geologically formed amphitheatre–unparalleled in the rest of the world. Even if you’re not interested in serious hiking, just walking around the amphitheatre is an amazing experience. In such an atmosphere, I don’t think you can help but be awed by the wonders of nature.
The walking trail itself, The Trading Post, is 1.4 miles and runs through valleys, a natural meadow, and some incredible rock formations. The Red Rocks website warns that (1) the terrain can be rough so hiking boots are recommended and (2) because of the 6,280 feet above sea level altitude, a doctor should be consulted before an individual with health conditions attempts the hike.
The park and Amphitheatre are open daily from 5am to 11pm. The Visitor Center is open in the summer from 8am to 7pm with shorter hours the rest of the year. The Amphitheatre and Visitor Center, however, are closed to the public during performances.
Chatfield State Park Walking Trails
Chatfield State Park, about 30 miles south of Denver, prides itself in offering an “abundance of recreational opportunities.” There are two main trails that can be used for walking or biking: the Chatfield Internal Bikeway and the Chatfield Dam Trail. Daily park passes cost $7, but the State Park also supports boating, camping, fishing, and other activities.
The Internal Bikeway is ten miles of paved trails with a moderate degree of difficulty. The elevation is 5,460 feet and the trail is ADA accessible-meaning it meets the requirements for accessible design set up by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The trail permits foot, bike and skate.
The Chatfield Dam Trail is also ADA accessible but it does have asphalt. Of the total 2.7 miles of the trail, only 2.4 miles are paved. However, the degree of difficulty is still ranked as easy. At an elevation of 5,500 feet, the Chatfield Dam Trail can be used for walking and biking, but not skating.
South Platte River Walking Trails
The South Platte River trail actually ends just northeast of Chatfield State Park but begins clear in Cherry Creek in west downtown Denver. The South Platte River trail, which connects to the North Platte River trail, runs for almost 16 miles.
The Platte River has great historic significance in the building up of America’s west. I can remember as a child visiting the Platte River trail and learning about the significance of the river to the Mormon pioneers, for example. There are various monuments that have been erected along the trail, providing individuals of all ages an opportunity to learn while recreating in the great outdoors.
“Platte River.” Wikipedia.
“Trails at Chatfield State Park.” Parks.State.CO.US.
“Trails Denver – Platte River South Narrative.” Trails Denver.
“Visiting Red Rocks.” Red Rocks Online.