Admittedly, I don’t do this enough with my own kids, but I am still a huge proponent of getting out into nature and experiencing our beautiful state of Colorado! And it’s easy! I’m writing this as much for you as for me – as a reminder to GET OUT THERE and engage in some family fitness. Go on a Denver area hike!
Here are five “close in” hikes that don’t take any preparation, other than packing your sunscreen, water, and a few snacks. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a fully charged mobile phone (you must be ready for the crazy Colorado weather that just blows in from time to time). I’ve chosen Denver area hikes where you can continue to get a signal, by the way.
I love these hikes because they are easy to access and easy to complete even with kids in tow. Who are we kidding? The kids are FINE, it’s ME that I worry about being able to make it up and down in a timely and safe manner.
I’ve added in a “know before you go” tip to each one just in case you haven’t experienced one of these glorious places yet! Click the links below for an overview and a map to each trailhead location.
1. Waterfall Hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park near Castle Rock
Castlewood Canyon has several trails. I like the Waterfall Hike because it’s along the actual Cheery Creek, so the kids can throw rocks in the water along the way, and there is a reward at the end! If you keep walking 2.3 miles along the creek, you’ll come to ruins of the historic Castlewood Canyon dam that burst in 1933. This is a fun place to explore! Don’t forget to bring a picnic lunch because the kids will want to hang out at the dam for awhile and the views are pretty neat.
2. Chautauqua Park in Boulder
This is one of my favorite Denver area hikes because the views are so majestic – both from below the flatirons and once you’ve climbed to the top of one. There are several hikes, and some are a tad more strenuous (aka vertical), but totally worth it.
Make time to dine at the awesome Chautauqua Dining Hall with its wrap-around porch and comfort food menu. And make time to find a parking place. This is the one draw-back to this location, but if you get up there early enough, you should be able to find a spot in the small lot.
3. Bear Creek Trail at Lair o’ the Bear Park past Morrison
This is another easy, crowd pleasing hike that is really easy to get to, and provides several paths for some options when you visit this place again and again. There is also a creek (Bear Creek, of course) for rock throwing and pretty views. Are you sensing a theme? Anyone with elementary school aged boys will love water features as part of the hike. One tip to note is: Because of the water and the relatively low elevation, there are often biting flies and other bugs. Bug spray is a must for this hike!
4. The Birch Ruins in Estes Park
OK, maybe you can hardly call this one a hike because it’s more like a stroll up a hill right in Estes park, but my kids love to visit the Birch Ruins every time we go. It’s just the right amount of leg-stretching and sight-seeing before they want to walk around the cute town of Estes Park to get salt water taffy and a souvenir!
If this isn’t strenuous or adventurous enough for you, here’s an added bonus of ten other fun family Denver area hikes near Estes Park.
5. Three Sisters Park (and Alderfer) near Evergreen
Another request of my elementary school-aged son is for some ELEVATION! “When I hike, mom, I wanna climb up stuff and run down hills, too,” says little Mr. Beatty. Twin Sisters has something for everyone: shade for the parents, pretty views for the daughter, and hills to climb for the son. The shortest family hike is called the Wild Iris Loop that is less than a mile long.
Reconnecting with an old hobby you love (and I used to love hiking) is one of the recommendations in another blog on The We Spot by Dana Andalora about continuing to have fun as a mom. Hiking makes me a fun mom, which is an added bonus!
Hopefully, I’ve provided information about a hike you haven’t been on or one of your favorite Denver area hikes that’s close to you. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently posted an article about family fitness that stated, “Family-based fitness has a greater likelihood of becoming lifelong fitness, with countless physical, cognitive, and social benefits.” I agree, so it’s time to get out there!