Corey Engelen’s Favorite Hikes Near Denver: Part I

I love living in Denver for a number of reasons. But one of my favorite things about living here is the unparalleled access to the outdoors. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: if you enjoy hiking, then Denver is the place for you.

There are tons of places to hike throughout Colorado as a whole, but there are a number of beautiful spots that are just a stone’s throw away from Denver. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite places to go hiking in the area. This is part one of that list. In no particular order here are 3 places to hike.

image of outdoors and four lakes loop hke

Black Lake via ProTrails.com

Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

This trail features tons of outstanding views, waterfalls, and lakes. The total trip is 9.6 miles, which is one of the longer trails in this list. This trail is very popular in the area, especially during tourist season. Parking can be difficult during this time so consider using the free park shuttle to access the trailhead. Once starting the trail, hikers will quickly find the 30-foot waterfall named Alberta Sprague, named after the wife of Abner Sprague who is one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area. About 2.5 miles in the hike you will reach the base of Glacier Falls, another waterfall. Right after that waterfall is beautiful Mills Lake. The lake is named Enos Mills who is referred to as the father of Rocky Mountain National Park. Additionally Jewel Lake is a mile away from Mills Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park is located about an hour and a half away from Denver.

image of outdoors four lakes loop with body of water - corey engelen

Four Lakes Loop via MeetUp.com

Four Lakes Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park

This trail not only has terrific views of lakes and waterfalls, but it is is also a loop so you end where you start. The total trip is 5.6 miles. The four lakes that are visited during this hike are Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Lake Haiyaha. Wake up early for this hike! When starting the hike, if it is in the early morning, Bear Lake provides a beautiful reflection that is great for photography and stunning to look at. After Bear Lake is Nymph Lake. This trail is very popular so most of the path is paved. After Nymph Lake is Dream Lake. During the summer, this lake is surrounded by wildflowers. Finally there is Lake Haiyaha. The lake is pretty easy to approach but there are a few times the path gets a somewhat rugged. Nothing that a beginner hiker cannot accomplish though. Haiyaha is the Native American word for rock or lake of many rocks.

Image of Lake of Glass Park  Waterfall

Lake of Glass via ProTrails.com

Lake of Glass Waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park

This trail takes you to Glass Lake and Sky Pond which are both breathtaking. The total hike is nine miles and the intensity of the hike is fairly moderate. It takes about four miles to get to Glass Lake as well as Sky Pond. At mile four it steepens considerably in a thinning forest to the base of Timberline Falls, a sharp drop from the edge of Glass Lake. After this there is a demanding climb up the north side of the falls. It is recommended that only confident hikers attempt this. This part of the trail is not marked but it is easy to find where to go. There is a lot of run-off and lingering moisture that can make this part of the climb difficult. Be sure to be safe during this part. The feeling of accomplishment and the views are worth the risk though. After this you reach Glass Lake which has a green hue and large populous trout.

These are three of my favorite places to hike. This list is in no way exhaustive, there are tons of places to go hiking around Denver. In my next installment, I’ll tackle a few more great hikes.