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7 Best Hikes in Colorado That Will Leave You in Awe

From otherworldly arches to sand dunes to crystal-clear lakes, these are the best hikes in Colorado for all your future adventures.

best hikes in colorado
Written by
Tehrene Firman
Colorado checks off every box for
lovers. It's home to some of the world's most beautiful mountains, canyons, and rolling grasslands, from the 300-million-year-old sandstone formations at Garden of the Gods to the crystal-clear Hanging Lake. So it's no surprise that when it comes to the best hikes in Colorado, there are plenty to choose from.
If you're visiting and want to explore some of the most stunning parts of The Centennial State, hiking is a great way to get up close and personal with all the jaw-dropping wonders it has to offer. And while it will most definitely be hard to decide where to begin, these hikes won't disappoint.

The 7 Best Hikes in Colorado

Perkins Central Garden Trail

best hikes in colorado
Location: Colorado Springs
Skill Level: Easy
Total Length: 1.5 miles round trip
Hikers of all skill levels will enjoy the Perkins Central Garden Trail at Garden of the Gods. The easy access and minimal elevation trail is paved with concrete, making it a
great option for families
. The trail loops around the park's most distinctive sandstone rock formations, allowing you to see the magic up close with minimal effort.

Emerald Lake Trail

Location: Estes Park
Skill Level: Moderate
Total Length: 3.5 miles round trip
Emerald Lake Trail is home to some seriously gorgeous scenery—from stunning
to not one, not two, but three alpine lakes. Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, it's considered one of the most beautiful trails in the state, making it a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.

Rattlesnake Arches Upper Trailhead

best hikes in colorado
Location: Grand Junction, Colorado
Skill Level: Moderate
Total Length: 6.2 - 8.2 miles round trip
If you're up for a challenge, Rattlesnake Arches will make the extra effort worth it. Located outside of Grand Junction, the trail will lead you to otherwordly reddish-orange rock formations and arches. In total, there are 35 natural arches—the second-largest collection of arches outside of Utah's famous Arches National Park.

Hanging Lake Trail

Location: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Total Length: 2.4 miles round trip
Hiking Hanging Lake Trail allows you to witness a "rare example of a
travertine geological formation
." The steep and rigorous backcountry hike to the lake is a 1,200 ft. climb, but there's no better reward than enjoying the waterfall views once you arrive at your destination.

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Mayflower Gulch Trail

best hikes in colorado
Location: Frisco, CO
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Total Length: 3 miles round trip
Mayflower Gulch will put you right in the middle of wildflower heaven. During your hike, you'll get mountain views and a vibrant meadow backdrop that features blooms in every color of the rainbow. It's also an easier, straightforward option, making it a hike the whole family can enjoy.

Royal Arch Trail

Location: Boulder
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Total Length: 3.4 miles round trip
This popular trail is short but mighty. While hiking the loop, you'll be challenged by "
loose rocks, tight switchbacks, and large steps
"—but you'll be rewarded with a natural stone arch that has breathtaking views of Boulder and the Flatirons.

Star Dune Trail

best hikes in colorado
Location: Alamosa
Skill Level: Difficult
Total Length: 8 miles round trip
Star Dune isn't your average Colorado trail. Located within the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, it's the tallest sand dune in North America.
Not for newbies, the strenuous hike is hot and challenging. As there's
no established trail
due to the ever-changing nature of the sand dunes, you'll want to make sure you come prepared. But get excited, because you'll be in awe throughout the entire journey—not just of the majestic dune, but also of the
unusual insects
and plants that have
adapted to the extreme environment