A guide to the best hikes of the summer

From quick and easy to more channenging trails and waterfalls

Dan Williams
Red Rocks is not only one of America’s iconic venues but it is also a perfect just-outside-the-city hiking destination for families and even more advanced hikers.
Dan Williams
That lone hiker is maker her way up one of Mount Falcon's hiking trails that is famous for its iconic views. Mount Falcon is just outside the city and is a perfect place to spend a summer day.
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Take a hike.

No, really. Colorado is known for a lot of different things and one of those is it has some of the best hiking trails in the country.

Right in our own backyards — literally for some — are some of the best hiking opportunities that are just a handful of minutes from the heart of Denver.

It wasn’t easy, and we are definitely tired, but we trekked through a handful of trails and compiled a list of just some hiking adventures that you and your family can enjoy on a perfect summer day.

Hiking is the triple-threat; it works out your body, you can do it with friend and family, and it is totally free (minus a couple bucks in gas).

If you do it safe, and you do need to always be safe and prepared before your hike, it can be fun and very rewarding once you reach your destination.

But before we give you our list of local trails here is your day hiking checklist:

-Map and/or compass

-Sunscreen

-Proper attire; vest, jacket, gloves, pants and a hat

-Water AND at least one day worth of food

-Matches/lighter, as well as a flashlight

-Pocket knife

-First aid kit

-Cell phone for emergency

-And let a friend or family member know your hiking destination/plans

And now that you are prepared for your hike we have prepared a list of trails that are NOT two hour drives, but instead a list of local hiking trails that are mere 20 minutes away in some cases.

Here is our list:

Called a “14er training ground” by many, Mount Falcon is an awesome day hiking destination and it is just minutes from downtown Morrison. The area features several trails that can be tied together creating a 3.7 mile journey that features a lookout point that gives you arguably the best view of Denver and Red Rocks that can be found anywhere. Very family friendly and if you pack a lunch there are perfect rest stops to stop and relax.

Speaking of Red Rocks, everyone has been to a concert at the historic venue but few people think of the park when considering their hiking options. Red Rocks is the perfect day hiking destination for locals to bring their out-of-town guests to impress them as you follow Trading Post Trail around the park and around 10 enormous Red Rock formations. You can complete the trail in just over one hour — and maybe stick around to see Big Head Todd & the Monsters.

A lesser-known hiking option, Mount Galbraith, is located just a quick drive up Golden Gate Canyon. Cedar Gulch Trail and Nightbird Gulch Trail are the two trailheads that make up The Mount Galbraith Loop. About four miles in length, your trip will feature ridiculous views of Denver and Golden. The elevation change makes this one a little more challenging but it’s still family friendly.

This Evergreen destination is popular for all the right reasons. Evergreen has a charm all its own, but Maxwell Falls offered a variety of different terrain, as well as a one mile, three mile and four mile hiking option. But all roads lead to a beautiful cascading waterfall which is well worth even the four mile journey. Bring family and friends, and maybe your fishing pole too.

This Boulder locale is an underrated day hiking experience. Take Chatauqua Trail which will lead you to three different Flatiron trails which will all provide you with views of Flatirons that Ansel Adams would be jealous of. The park is super-family friendly but that also means it could be crowded during the weekend. Boulder has many hiking options but give Chatauqua a chance.

- For those headed east instead of west but still want a day hiking experience Castlewood Canyon is an ideal fit. You can make your like as long or as short as you choose depending on what side of the park you park on, but the reward is a magnificent waterfall that is just outside the metro area. The next closest Denver waterfall is at Casa Bonita, so plan accordingly and bring your camera too.