You don’t want to miss these hiking spots if you’re traveling in or around Denver with your dog. Get moving, get lost in nature together, and gain some perspective.
Whenever we park in a new spot, I look up local dog-friendly hiking spots so we can get out and explore with our two dogs. Sometimes, to my husband’s dismay, I do this even before we’ve hooked up our trailer and unpacked.
I can’t help it. Since leaving the urban flatlands of Chicago, I’ve realized that I love hiking. And the Denver area makes a perfect jumping off point, with tons of gorgeous, dog-friendly trails for all ability levels.
From paved paths to treacherous trails, here are five of my (and my pups’) favorite hiking spots around the Mile-High City.
1. Eldorado Canyon State Park
Located about 30 miles from Denver and 10 miles from Boulder, this park features a trail for everyone. No matter how much experience you and your pup have with hiking, there’s a perfect path for you—from easy to moderate to difficult. And in multiple trips there, the park never felt crowded.
Walk along the river together, and try to spot fish swimming below the surface. Or take a zig-zagging path up the mountainside to the overlook at the Continental Divide. Either way you go, you’re bound to see rock climbers scaling nearby rock faces, so take breaks along the way, and enjoy the views.
2. Lookout Mountain
A hike to the top of Lookout Mountain offers sweeping views of the surrounding area, as well as of the road that winds around the mountain. Wildlife, bikers, and long boarders abound, so be on the look out. If your dog loves (read: hates) skateboarders as much as mine does, make sure to keep her on leash for everyone’s safety. Picnic tables make for a perfect meal spot at the top of the mountain; pack some snacks for your trek, and be sure to throw away all your trash in the bear-proof garbage cans.
Lookout Mountain is located in 15 miles west of Denver in Golden, Colorado, which also happens to be home to Buffalo Bill’s grave and the Coors brewery.
3. Garden of the Gods
A bit more of a trek from Denver, Garden of the Gods is a public park in Colorado Springs, about 70 miles south of the Mile-High City. But it’s worth the drive.
Garden of the Gods provides gorgeous views of the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, and the park’s paved walkways wind right through towering sandstone rocks. In some areas, you can ditch the walkway and climb the rocks, which is more challenging but very fun. Because my dogs were up to the challenge, we tried it. I left impressed with their abilities. Apparently, they’re more mountain goat than canine.
4. Chautauqua Park
This park is home to the flatiron mountains that you see in postcards from Boulder, Colorado. Various trails within the park don’t allow dogs, so heed the signage as you go. The Chautauqua trailhead does allow pups, and it slopes up gently to the base of the flatirons.
Start there. If you and your four-legged friend are up for more of a challenge, keep going. Otherwise, head back, but make sure to get a photo of yourselves with the breathtaking backdrop of these slanting iron cliffs.
5. Red Rocks Park
If you’re a music fan, you may know of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a favorite venue among musicians of all types, from folk and blues to jazz and rock. But surrounding the amphitheatre, there are also breathtaking hiking trails made of stunning sandstone rock formations and valleys. And bonus: In August, the National Park Service named the park a National Historic Landmark.
Red Rocks Park sits 16 miles Southwest of Denver, and while most of the trails are fairly smooth, they can be rough in places. Make sure to wear supportive shoes or hiking boots, apply sunscreen, and bring plenty of water for you and your furry friend. There aren’t many (if any) trees along the trail, and on hot days, the sun beats down fiercely.
Remember: When hiking with dogs, you know your animal best. Don’t attempt trails that are beyond either of your abilities. Pack plenty of water, and pick up after your pet.
Did I miss any of your favorite Denver hiking spots? Share your top picks so fellow dog lovers can get in on the city’s best trails.