Best-Ever Hiking Trails in Colorado

By Dom Nozzi

The hiking trails found on this list are the best trails I’ve ever hiked in Colorado. They excel in providing long-distance panoramic views, provide physical challenges to the hiker, are relatively pristine and free of human development or defilement, offer scenic diversity, and are sufficiently challenging and remote enough to not be overly crowded with other hikers. They are trails that compel the hiker to shoot lots of photos due to the frequency of “WOW” views.

Vasquez Peak

Tourmaline Lake

Stanley Mountain

Spectacle Lakes

Shelf & Solitude Lakes

Gem Lake

Button Rock

Niwot Ridge

Herman Lake

Niwot Mountain

Grays and Torreys

Mt Princeton

Taylor Peak, Andrews Glacier, Otis Peak

Isabelle Glacier

James Peak

Ypsilon Mountain

Upper Blue Lake

Square Top Mountain

Mount Parnassus

Mount Orton

Mount Flora

Half Mountain

Caribou Lake and Lake Dorothy

Lion Lakes & Snowbank Lake (from the Wild Basin trailhead)

Mt Evans

Longs Peak

South Loop: Kings Lake-Devils Thumb

Chicago Lakes

Lawn & Crystal Lakes

Chaos Canyon

Ice Lake

Mount Audubon trail

King Lake trail (from the Hessie trailhead)(my favorite hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness)

Maroon Pass trail (Aspen to Crested Butte)(my favorite hike EVER, done July 2014)

Mount Ida trail (from the Milner Pass trailhead)(my favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park)

Pawnee Pass (from the Long Lake trailhead)

Arapahoe Glacier/ Glacier Rim (from the Rainbow Lakes trailhead)

Mitchell Lake & Blue Lake (from the Mitchell Creek trailhead)

Arapahoe Pass to Lake Dorothy (from the Fourth of July trailhead)

Diamond Lake trail (from the Fourth of July trailhead)Mt Ida summit Sept 2012

Forest Lakes trail (Heart Lake/Moffat Tunnel/E Portal trailhead)

Crater Lakes trail (Heart Lake/Moffat Tunnel/E Portal trailhead)

Heart Lake trail (Heart Lake/Moffat Tunnel/E Portal trailhead)

Iceberg Lake trail (Heart Lake/Moffat Tunnel/E Portal trailhead)

Ouzel Falls & Calypso Cascades (Wild Basin trailhead, RMNP)

Meadow Mountain-Ute Trail loop (Upper Beaver Meadows, RMNP)

Bluebird Lake, Ouzel Lake, Chickadee Lake (Wild Basin trailhead, RMNP)

Pear Lake, Finch Lake, Lower/ Middle/ Upper Hutcheson Lakes, Cony Lake (Wild Basin trailhead, RMNP)

Chasm Lake (Long’s Peak trailhead, RMNP)

Sky Pond (Bear Lake trailhead, RMNP)

Glacier Gorge, Mills Lake, The Loch, Black Lake, Timberline Falls, Sky Pond (Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead, RMNP)

Alberta Falls (Glacier Gorge trailhead, RMNP)

Frozen Lake (Glacier Gorge trailhead, RMNP)

Green Lake (Glacier Gorge trailhead, RMNP)West Maroon Pass hike at the Pass6 July 2012

Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Hiawaha Lake (Bear Lake trailhead, RMNP)

Flattop Mountain trail (Bear Lake trailhead, RMNP)

Notchtop & Knobtop from Tonahutu Trail (Bear Lake trailhead, RMNP)

Fern Lake, The Pool, Fern Falls (Fern Lake trailhead, RMNP)

Twin Sisters (Twin Sisters trailhead, RMNP)

Coulson Gulch trail (Lyons. Roosevelt National Forest)Shelf Lake hike21 July 2012

Spruce Creek to Mohawk Lake trail

Shelf Lake (Gunella Pass)(Spectacular trail)

Crater Lake (near Granby, from Monarch Lake TH))


 I urge you to email me ( or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.


Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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2 Responses to Best-Ever Hiking Trails in Colorado

  1. Really great list. I see you have the Wild Basin region covered – my favorite area to date. Also, nice call on Shelf Lake – that hike is a diamond in the rough. I have done many of these and will be adding every one of these I have not completed to my “Adventure List”. Really the only hike I can think to add are the Lumpy Ridge Loop with the Bridal Falls option (RMNP, Lumpy Ridge TH).

    Any other hiking recommendations near Granby? My mom in here 60s is coming out in July. I might try Crater Lake with her, but am looking for some spectacular hikes maybe a little less strenuous.

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