What’s the best time to visit Colorado to hike? (Tips for Hiking)

Devon Weetly
Devon Weetly
best time to visit Colorado to hike

From majestic mountain peaks, roaring rivers, and desert-like canyons to modern cities offering world-class attractions and an ever-growing local food scene – Colorado is the perfect destination for outdoor adventures.

If you’re looking for a great way to explore nature while getting your daily dose of sunshine and fresh air, hiking in Colorado should be at the top of your list.

With its stunningly beautiful terrain and abundance of trails ranging from beginner hikes to challenging alpine climbs, now’s the perfect time to plan an awe-inspiring hike at one of Colorado’s many national parks or forests.

In this article, we’ll take you through some of the best times to visit throughout Spring/Summer/Fall so that you find exactly what type trip is most suited for your goals whether it be relaxing strolls on easy paths with breathtaking views or strenuous descents into rocky passes alongside jagged cliffs with epic vistas. Let’s get started.

What is the best time to visit Colorado for hiking?

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Colorado for hiking, July and August are the ideal months.

During this time, the trails are mostly snow-free and wildflowers are in full bloom. The mild days and cool nights make it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Elbert, Mount Bierstadt, and kayaking.

The summer months are peak season, so it’s important to make reservations and plan ahead as popular trails can get crowded.

If you’re looking for a less-crowded experience, aim for the shoulder seasons of late spring (April/May) or early fall (September/October). The days are still warm and sunny but there will be fewer crowds on the trails.

No matter what time of year you visit, it’s important to bring plenty of water and a good map to make sure you don’t get lost. Above all else, have fun and enjoy the amazing scenery that Colorado has to offer.

What are the best hiking trails in Colorado?

For nature lovers, hikers, and adventure-seekers, hiking in Colorado is a must-do activity.

From the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the vast expanses of wilderness, Colorado has something to offer for everyone.

Look at several of the Best Hiking Trails in Colorado and discover what makes them stand out.

Maroon Bells:

This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Colorado, and it’s easy to see why. With towering peaks, pristine lakes, and breathtaking scenery, it’s like walking through a postcard. This trail is suitable for anyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker. 

Hanging Lake:

This trail will take you to one of the most beautiful lakes you’ll ever see. The turquoise water and the waterfall that spills into it are simply stunning. The trail is steep, but it’s worth the effort. The views along the way are terrific, and the trail is well maintained. 

The Four Pass Loop:

This is a challenging trail that takes you through four mountain passes, high-altitude meadows, and forests. The views are incredible, and you will get a sense of accomplishment when you complete this one. 

Mount Elbert:

This hike will lead you to the highest peak in Colorado, standing at 14,400 feet. The trail is a bit steep, but it is well maintained. The views from the top are simply breathtaking. 

Bear Peak:

This is another challenging hike that takes you through the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The trail is steep, but it offers fantastic views of Boulder and the surrounding mountains. 

Devil’s Head:

This is a relatively easy and family-friendly hike that leads to an impressive fire lookout tower. The trail is well-maintained, and the views are astounding, making it perfect for nature lovers looking to experience some of Colorado’s beauty. 

Blue Lakes:

This trail takes you to a series of shimmering blue lakes framed by staggering peaks, offering stunning scenery along the way. The trail is easy to navigate, and the views are nothing short of breathtaking.

St. Mary’s Glacier:

This hike is suitable for families and beginners, as the trail is well-marked and doesn’t require much experience. The glacier is worth the short uphill trek, offering great photo opportunities as well as a chance to play in the snow.

Lost Lake:

This moderately challenging trail leads you to a serene and peaceful lake tucked away in the Roosevelt National Forest. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and crystal clear waters perfect for relaxing and taking a swim. 

Mount Bierstadt:

This hike is known for its spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. With stunning panoramas along the way, this moderately challenging trail through a sub-alpine landscape leads to a peak surrounded by the beauty of nature. 

Tips for Hiking in Colorado: How to Make the Most of Your Trek

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, these tips will help you enjoy your trek, stay safe, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Here are several tips for hiking in Colorado:

Know Your Trail

One of the most important things to consider when planning a successful hike in Colorado is to know your trail.

Colorado has a vast number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, and each comes with its own set of challenges.

Before you set out on your hike, research your trail and assess its difficulty level against your skills.

Take note of the length, elevation gain, and difficulty of your chosen route. This information will help you prepare accordingly with the right gear and snacks, and build realistic expectations of the hike.

Dress Appropriately

Colorado’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, with sunny skies abruptly turning into sudden storms.

It’s important to come prepared with appropriate clothing for all levels of weather conditions. Dress in layers, and bring rain gear and warm clothing that you can quickly slip on and off.

Footwear is also crucial when hiking in Colorado’s diverse terrain. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots with good ankle support and thick soles that offer good traction on rocky and slippery surfaces.

Your footwear can make the difference between an enjoyable trek and a painful one.

Hydration and Nutrition

Colorado’s high altitude causes dehydration faster than other hiking destinations in the country.

Therefore, it’s essential to bring more water than you think you’ll need and hydrate frequently while hiking.

Consider carrying a bladder system to make it easier to drink water on the move.

Pack nutritious snacks high in carbohydrates and low in sugar to keep you energized on the trail. Some great options include energy bars, nuts, fruit, and beef jerky.

Wilderness Safety

While Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the US, there are potential dangers that hikers should be aware of.

Always notify someone of your hiking plans and carry a map, compass, and emergency whistle. Be sure to also carry sunscreen and bug spray.

If you plan on hiking in the wilderness, download a trail map and review wilderness rules before setting out for your hike. Bear, elk, and moose sightings are also common in Colorado. Therefore, it’s important to stay mindful and respectful of wildlife.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a philosophy that encourages hikers not to leave any trace of their passage in the wilderness.

This includes disposing of waste properly and following the principle of pack in and pack out. We should all respect nature and keep it pristine for the next hiker.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Colorado for hiking, July and August are the ideal months. The trails will be mostly snow-free and the wildflowers will be in full bloom, creating a beautiful display.

Hiking in Colorado is a truly unique experience. From mountain peaks to pristine lakes, the mountain state offers some of the most varied and dramatic landscapes in the country. With proper preparation and knowledge, you can make the most of your next trek and come away with unforgettable memories.   ​

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Devon Weetly is a passionate and adventurous traveller from Toronto with a knack for storytelling. He has embarked on countless journeys seeking new experiences, cultures, and landscapes to explore. His travels have not only been enriching, but also have inspired his writing career. As an aspiring writer with experience in creative fiction and travel journalism, he continues to find new avenues to express himself through his words and discover the hidden beauty of this world we live in.
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