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8 Colorado Hikes Perfect for Families

By Lisa Blake

Tiny hikers in tow? These eight iconic Colorado hikes will have the kiddos leading the pack to waterfalls, wildflower meadows, alpine lakes, historic pathways and more fresh Colorado air and postcard scenery than they can imagine.

1. Bobcat Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle

Summer hikers are lured by this state park’s lush landscape, manicured trails and campgrounds and limestone caves. The dramatic setting—including a triple waterfall—even draws film crews and professional photographers. Set out into the tropical-esque environment on an easy one-mile hike along the Bobcat Trail. The path links the state park to the state fish hatchery and meanders along East Rifle Creek through forests and meadows.
Rifle Falls State Park


2. Gould Loop, State Forest State Park

This vast state park touches Jackson and Larimer counties in northern Colorado’s Medicine Bow Range. Enjoy rugged backdrops and solitude among 71,000 acres of forest, jagged peaks and see-through lakes. With the local moose population edging 600, the area has been dubbed the moose viewing capital of Colorado and the visitor center near the town of Gould provides plenty of opportunity to learn about the massive creatures. The 6.5-mile Gould Loop runs alongside the river and an active moose habitat.


3. Rim Rock Nature Trail, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Embark on a moderate, one-mile self-guided nature trail peering over the edge of this jaw-dropping canyon. The dog- and kid-friendly rim trail is a sunny, fairly flat route affording fantastic views of the Gunnison River and surrounding canyon walls. Begin at the South Rim Visitor Center where kids can become junior rangers.


4. Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

If it’s water you’re after, this popular hike delivers. Begin at the Bear Lake trailhead (use the free park shuttle) and follow the 1.8-mile Emerald Lake trail to stunning scenes like lily-padded Nymph Lake and distant towering Longs Peak. Summer wildflowers pop here, while Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain demand a few photo stops.
Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park


5. Sawmill Creek Trail, Breckenridge

Situated steps from downtown Breckenridge, the 1.5-mile Sawmill Creek trail begins at the bottom of the Snowflake Lift just off Four O’Clock Road. Gentle elevation gain and abundant blooming flowers make it ideal for children. Tall pines provide plenty of shade on this mellow stroll that parallels a cool mountain creek. Once you reach the tucked-away reservoir at the end, post up for a family picnic or extend your hike and loop around the reservoir.

6. Doc Holliday Trail, Glenwood Springs

This Glenwood Springs must-see is not only named for the legendary gunslinger, but serves as Doc Holliday’s gravesite. The hike falls a little under one mile and takes visitors through Linwood Cemetery where the famous gambler’s grave marker is decorated in coins and playing cards. Local lore has it John Henry “Doc” Holliday came to Glenwood hoping the natural hot springs would cure his tuberculosis. Trace his steps along this moderate out-and-back nature trail.


7. Alderfer Three Sisters Trail, Evergreen

Alderfer/Three Sisters Park near Evergreen is webbed with nearly 15 miles of hiking trails set on 770 acres. The former cattle ranch rests among landmark rock formations, thick ponderosa pines and meadows painted in native wildflowers. The 6.9-mile Alderfer Three Sisters loop is dog- and kid-friendly with terrain sure to wear them all out.

8. Lower Cataract Lake Loop Trail, Heeney

Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe this mild 2.25-mile trail. Follow the winding dirt road back to the trailhead parking in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and hike counter-clockwise around the lake. Cataract Falls are visible from the trail that makes its way through meadows and forested sections, across a bridge and a flowing creek. Experience summer wildflowers and golden fall aspen and stop to dip your toes in at the wading area.

Find more Colorado summer adventures to get your family outside this season.