Five Best Elevation-Increase Hikes Near Denver, Colo.

By: Tom Malone

Hiking near the Mile High City can take a toll on even the most fit sea-level adventurer; however, elevation-intensive hiking can provide the body with enhanced levels of endurance that will make future adventures physically easier.

With the Rocky Mountains in such close proximity to the Denver metro area, most hikes near Denver will include two features: intense elevation change and beautiful views. Here are The Adventure Tribune’s top five elevated hikes near Denver:

5. Apex Trail (Golden)
Apex Trail made the ranks for its easy access from Denver. It pushes hikers deep into the forest, which is unique for many Denver-area hikes. Though the elevation climb is gradual, it releases hikers into a surprisingly-tall viewpoint of the Golden area.

4. Vail
Known for its luxurious winter skiing, Vail in the warm season provides ample hiking trails that climb rapidly and end on the top of 13,000-foot ski runs. These views allow hikers to see the untamed wilderness to one side and the ski town of Vail to another.

3. Estes Park
The famed destination provides hikers with numerous options. Nestled in a bowl of mountains, Estes Park features rivers, lakes, and wildlife (especially during September and October). Steep climbs or medium-grade inclines are available.

2. Rocky Mountain National Forest
Again, this area encompasses a vast territory, which comes with plenty of options. The National Forest looms just outside the city of Denver, which makes it easily accessible for a day-trip, though it allows extensive backpacking with an abundance of trails. This is a must-visit destination for any Colorado adventurer.

1. Chautauqua Park (Boulder)
This earned our first-place ranking for its close proximity to Denver, its multiple options, and its degree of difficulty, paired with the incredible views. The park allows hikers to summit three different flatirons and see Royal Arch in the process. The 3,500-foot incline makes the most fit adventurers winded, but the views of Boulder and Denver from atop a pointed flatiron is worth every ounce of effort.

There are hundreds of trails in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Make a point to explore as many as you can.

If you think we left a key hiking route off the list, let us know, or write your own list and send it to us at to see it published!

*Photo Credit: Tom Malone
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