Our 8 Favorite Hiking Trails in Colorado - Native Campervans

Our 8 Favorite Hiking Trails in Colorado

Hiking Colorado

Choosing the eight best hiking spots in Colorado is like choosing the eight best vineyards in France: a consensus is impossible because of a wealth of options. For the avid hiker, that certainly isn’t a bad thing

From Great Sand Dunes National Park in the south to Rocky Mountain National Park in the north, there’s a terrain for all hikers to enjoy! While everyone may have their bucket list of Colorado hikes, here are eight that we think you can’t miss!

The Mountains are Calling with These 8 Recommend Hiking Trails in Colorado:

  1. Emerald Lake Trail
  2. Alberta Falls
  3. Huron Peak
  4. Saint Mary’s Glacier
  5. Royal Arch Trail
  6. Mount Audubon
  7. Longs Peak
  8. Mount Sniktau

Emerald Lake Trail

@hikingproject

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Length: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gained: 698 feet

Easy is a relative term when you’re almost 10,000 feet in the air. However, Rocky Mountain National Park’s Emerald Lake Trail is one of the easier hikes on this list. At just over three miles, you’ll get a workout in, but most hikers should be able to tackle this one. While the turnaround point is at picturesque Emerald Lake, you also pass by Nymph Lake and Dream Lake on the way. The trail splits a mile in, so stay right at the fork.


Alberta Falls

Water Falls
@trekkingcolorado

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Length: 1.6 miles
Elevation Gained: 232 feet

Not all hiking trails in Colorado have to be insane. If you want a relaxing and beautiful day hike, Alberta Falls is probably your best bet in the entire state. The falls provide the perfect reward-to-effort ratio as this is a trail the whole family can do without a problem. Extend this trip by packing a snack and pausing to enjoy a rest by the falls. While this trail is best enjoyed from late spring to early fall, it’s pretty cool to see the waterfall frozen if you visit during the winter!


Huron Peak

14ers in Colorado
@14ers.com

Location: Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
Length: 6.6 miles
Elevation Gained: 3,418 feet

The 14ers of Colorado are a famous breeding ground for bragging rights. If you want to etch your name into the list of people who’ve conquered a 14er, Huron Peak is a perfect place to start. While none of them are easy, Huron Peak is non-technical and doesn’t require any significant climbing or scrambling. Your legs will likely be burning, but this patch of the San Isabel National Forest is a great place to start your 14er bucket list.

If you’re looking for a place to park before a long day of peak bagging, Colorado Road 390 has several dispersed options. The Winfield Camping Area is the most popular of the established options (and the closest to Huron Peak). If you’re looking for the best night’s sleep available, our Biggie Campervan is what you need!


Colorado’s Saint Mary’s Glacier Hiking Trail

St Mary's Glacier
@tripadvisor

Location: Arapaho National Forest
Length: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gained: 1,030 feet

There’s more to Colorado than just Rock Mountain National Park! Underrated Arapaho National Forest is a nature lover’s paradise. This is another one of the shorter options, but you won’t be without a challenge on this hike. On your way to the glacier, you’ll see Saint Mary’s Lake on your left and Fox Mountain on your right. A great photo spot!


Colorado Royal Arch Trail

Royal Arch Trail
@5280.com

Location: Boulder Open Space
Length: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gained: 1,394 feet

There are a variety of hiking trails in Colorado and this may be the perfect place to juxtapose the busy city of Boulder with the untouched natural beauty just outside of the city. Royal Arch Trail is quite popular during peak season, so the best approach is to make this a sunrise hike. You’ll beat the rush of crowds and take in an unforgettable sunrise!

You have a few options for where you stay here. If you have extra funds, the Boulder Adventure Lodge is a unique and popular place to spend the night. They also offer tent and campervan sites, but you’ll pay around $50 per night. You’ll be close to Royal Arch, but it will come at a premium cost. If you want to save money, you can disperse camp west of Boulder on Forest Service or BLM land, but you’ll be further away from Royal Arch. The two most popular established dispersed spots are Forsythe Canyon Trailhead on USFS Road 357 and Dream Canyon Dispersed Campsites.


Mount Audubon Hiking Trail

Mount Audubon
@5280.com

Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area
Length: 7.4 miles
Elevation Gained: 2,670 feet

While most adventurers are familiar with Colorado’s 14ers, not all have heard of hiking the 13ers. With a 13er, you get the challenge and reward of a 14er without the crowds and popularity. Just because you’re 800 feet short of a 14er, though, don’t expect this to be in a walk in the park. While it won’t be as populated as many 14ers, it is arguably the most popular 13er. Name recognition of Mount Audubon tends to bring crowds, so if you want something a bit quieter, check out the next spot on our list.

If you don’t want to disperse camp, you’ll want a reservation at Pawnee Campground, as Brainard Lake is a summer hotspot. When visiting with a reservation, your best option is to arrive later in the day and avoid the majority of crowds. Due to its popularity, entrance lines into Brainard Lake Recreation Area can be up to two hours long. If you show up in the afternoon, you can fit in a relaxing day hike or two, get good sleep, and head for Mount Audubon first thing in the morning.


Longs Peak Hiking Trail

Longs Peak Colorado hike
@theoutdoorproject

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness
Length: 15.6
Elevation Gained: 5,498 feet

So, you’ve done a 14er or two already, and you’re looking for another challenge? Look no further than Longs Peak. However, this is not something you want for your first foray into the 14ers. Bring grippy shoes and lots of water. A helmet is advised as well as hikers in front of you can accidentally kick up rocks. Keep your distance and take your time! This Colorado hiking trail isn’t for the faint of heart, but the views are worth it.


Mount Sniktau Colorado

Mount Sniktau Hiking
@dismalwilderness

Location: Arapaho National Forest
Length: 4 miles
Elevation Gained:
1,587 feet

This is a great first 13er due to its length and elevation gain. While the elevation gain isn’t anything to be taken lightly, the first mile accounts for roughly 1,000 feet of gain, with the rest being gentler and more rolling climbs. If you’re an intermediate hiker looking for your first serious challenge, Mount Sniktau is an excellent choice. With its short length and beautiful wildflower views, Mount Sniktau is a must-see for any adventurer looking to head into the Colorado mountains.


Hit the Road!

If you’re excited to take in all these hiking spots, consider a road trip through Colorado! It will definitely require some time and driving, so consider renting a fully-loaded campervan out of Denver! You won’t have to put any miles on your car, and with Rocky Mountain campsites costing $20-30 each night, you can get a good night’s sleep while saving money overall. Don’t forget to take advantage of free dispersed camping on National Forest land as well!

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