Colorado’s Top Picturesque Hiking Destinations

Colorado's Picturesque Hiking Destinations

Colorado is beautiful and full of picturesque hiking destinations. Colorado has plains, mountains, lakes, rivers… and thousands of miles of hiking trails available to explore all these gorgeous features. Whether you’re bringing your camera with the intent of glamming up your Instagram page or looking for a scenic spot to set up an easel, read a book, cool off with a quick dip, or enjoy a picnic with a friend, check out some of these beautiful hiking destinations this summer.

Sky Pond - Rocky Mountain National Park

The Glacier Gorge Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park will take you on a 9.5-mile round trip to Sky Pond, an incredibly picturesque hiking destination tucked into the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the granite spires called the Sharkstooth. The pond itself is an incredibly beautiful destination. The hike itself is also very scenic—from Alberta Falls to Loch Lake to Timberline Falls, which you’ll have to scramble up to get to the end, and past the Lake of Glass, practically every part of the hike will have you dying to whip out your camera. Parking at Glacier Gorge Trailhead is limited and fills up quickly, but it is a stop on the Bear Lake Shuttle so that you can park at the Park and Ride or the Bear Lake parking lot and hop on the bus to the trailhead.

Guffey Gorge/Paradise Cove - Guffey

About a two-hour drive from Denver is Guffey Gorge, managed by BLM and located about ten miles east of Guffey. There is a $6 per vehicle parking fee at the trailhead, then a short, one-mile hike through rocks, meadows, and ponderosa pine trees to the swimming hole bordered by tall rock cliffs. Guffey Gorge is a great place to swim and cool off, and you might spot a few cliff divers jumping into the water from the rocks above.

Picturesque Hiking Around Denver

Suppose your visit to Colorado stops in Denver. You might be surprised to find out that there are several picturesque hiking options right from the Denver downtown area or very close by.
  • The 15,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is just north of downtown, a wildlife preserve for Bison, deer, raptors, and many other animals.
  • Cherry Creek State Park is an 850-acre park southeast of Denver. It is considered a recreation paradise with a trail system and an 850-acre reservoir.
  • There are several picturesque hiking loops within the Denver metro area.

Western Slope Picturesque Hiking Destinations

West Maroon Pass - Crested Butte and Aspen

Crested Butte is known far and wide as the wildflower capital of Colorado because, in July and August, it is awash with a rainbow of gorgeous wildflowers. Meanwhile, nearby Aspen is home to the stunning Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake, undoubtedly one of the most picturesque hiking destinations in a state full of beautiful sights. Experienced hikers might consider taking in both views on West Maroon Pass, a 10-mile trail between Crested Butte and Aspen. Hiking time varies based on your fitness level and experience, and if you plan to stay the night, you’ll need a bear canister. Still, no matter your plans, you can be sure of an incredible view from start to finish. Picturesque Hiking to Ice Lakes

Ice Lakes - Silverton

These lakes in the San Juans are an outstanding picturesque hiking destination. They get their name from the intense icy blue water color. In the summer, the hike to Ice Lakes is packed with colorful wildflowers and the rolling green meadows of the Lake Basin set against a backdrop of the San Juan Mountains. The round-trip hike is about 8 miles, and you should know that it gets pretty crowded during the summer, and parking at the trailhead is limited, so plan ahead. Picturesque Hiking Destination Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake - Glenwood Springs

Hanging Lake is one of Colorado's most regularly photographed sights, and for good reason. This beautiful lake, with its gemlike green water, split waterfalls, and algae-covered logs on its surface, is incredibly scenic. For conservation purposes, Hanging Lake is only accessible to hikers who have a permit, which can be purchased here.

Rattlesnake Arches - Grand Junction

With vibrant red rock formations and a ton of wildflowers in the summer, Rattlesnake Arches is an incredible hike with great views. Some of the unique rock formations you’ll spot include arches, windows, and alcoves. It’s not an easy trail and isn’t well-marked in places, so this 13.5-mile trail should be reserved for experienced hikers. If you plan on making it a multi-day trip, pack enough water because the trail is not just tricky; it’s also hot (bring sunscreen!), and there isn’t water on the trail. All that being said, if you’re up for the challenge, the desert scenery here is pretty unbeatable. Picturesque Hiking to Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Montrose County

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the most overlooked National Parks in Colorado and the country. That being said, this stunningly picturesque hiking destination is not to be missed. It’s a compact park, so most hiking trails are short and accessible by viewpoints along the road, but they all offer incredible views. If you’re looking for a more intense hiking experience, head down to the bottom of the canyon and backpack along the river, and no matter what you do, make sure you’re in the park after the sun goes down. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is an International Dark Sky Park, and if you can swing a visit on a clear night during a new moon, you’ll see the Milky Way in full view and a gorgeous sky full of stars.

American Basin - Lake City

This incredible trail will take you through a sea of wildflowers amidst the dramatic peaks of the San Juan Mountains and Handies Peak Wilderness. The American Basin Trail is only a two-mile round trip, but you can make it much longer and more scenic by heading through Cinnamon Pass or to Sloan’s Lake. If you’re ambitious, you can continue to summit Handies Peak for a 14,000-foot view of the region.

Picturesque Hiking Destinations - Be Prepared

Although most of these picturesque hiking destinations are day hikes, you must still be prepared. Even the short hikes require proper shoes as the ground can be uneven. Don't spoil your day by planning to go on one of these picturesque hikes and come home with a sunburn or a twisted ankle. Please view all the recommendations for preparing for your day hike or what you need to make it a picnic.

By Emily Krempholtz

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