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    Sep 19, 2015

    17 Colorado Trails That Should Be On Every Hiker's Bucket List

    Warning: Breathtaking beauty ahead.

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

    1. Garden of the Gods Loop

    Where: Colorado Springs, CO

    Difficulty: Easy

    Length: 4 miles

    This suggested loop is a combination of the best trails in the Garden of the Gods, circling the epic rock formations at the center of the park. The trails are dog and kid friendly, but it can get dry and hot so pack extra water.

    2. Bear Lake Loop

    Where: Rocky Mountain National Park

    Difficulty: Easy

    Length: 0.8 miles

    Short, gorgeous, and easily accessible, this hike is perfect for newbies, families, or anyone just looking for a super chill hike. To get the most out of this serene beauty, try to hit the trails first thing in the morning if you're going in season.

    3. High Dune Trail

    daveynin CC BY / Via Flickr: daveynin

    Where: Great Sand Dunes National Park

    Difficulty: Easy

    Length: 2 miles

    Since the High Dune Trail is not marked, these tips from hikers will help you rest assured you're on the right path. Stick to the tops of the ridges as you scale this giant sandbox and see the best peaks.

    4. Boulder Creek Path

    Where: Boulder, CO

    Difficulty: Easy

    Length: 5.5 miles

    The Boulder Creek path is about 5 and a half miles long between Boulder Canyon on the west and Stazio Ballfields in town on the east. This popular trail is basically a microcosm of Colorado: Starting in the rolling plains, quickly passing through a bustling but chill city, and ending in the shadow of mountains.

    5. Canyon Rim Trail

    Where: Colorado National Monument

    Difficulty: Easy

    Length: 1 mile

    Don't be deceived by the short distance; this trail will get you to everything worth seeing in Colorado National Monument. You're in for treat, because you're entering the northeast corner of the Colorado Plateau, which also hosts the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park.

    6. Coyote Trail

    Where: Rifle Falls State Park

    Difficulty: Easy-to-Moderate

    Length: 1.5 miles

    One of three trails in the park, this one offers the best views of Rifle Falls, as well as access to a couple awesome limestone caves along the way (bring your flashlights!). It's a relaxing, winding trail that follows Rifle Creek under a thick canopy of boxelder and cottonwood trees.

    7. Lost Lake Trail

    Where: Arapaho National Forest

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 2.8 miles

    This out-and-back trail starts from the Hessie Trailhead and offers beautiful views of creeks, tress, and the Devil's Thumb before the big payoff at Lost Lake. It's pretty popular in summer and fall, so get an early start if you can, especially if you plan on camping.

    8. Dyke Trail through Kebler Pass

    Where: Crested Butte, CO

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 6 miles

    The "dyke" for which the trail is named is a rocky spine ridge that hikers cross on this trek, while enjoying amazing aspen groves and meadows for miles. If you're going in fall, get ready for some top-notch foliage, and don't ignore the equally beautiful views of the Ruby Range and Anthracite mountains.

    9. Alderfer / Three Sisters Park

    Where: Jefferson County, CO

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 10 miles

    This loop will get you around the best parts of this incredibly accessible park, taking in the best views of the Three Sisters Peaks, Brothers Peak, and miles of wildflowers in between.

    10. Blue Lakes Trail

    David Kingham CC BY-NC-ND / Via Flickr: davidkingham

    Where: Uncompahgre National Forest

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 5.7 miles

    While the drive to the trailhead alone is absolutely gorgeous, the hike itself is even more impressive. After scaling the lower halves of the San Juan Mountains, you'll be rewarded with a tremendous view of Yankee Boy Basin, where it's said there's even some decent fishing to be had!

    11. Petroglyph Point Trail

    Witold Skrypczak / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

    Where: Mesa Verde National Park

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 2.8 miles

    A Colorado hotspot since 7,500 BCE, this national park contains over 4,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings where people lived up until 1265(!). This trail will take you to the famous Cliff Palace while offering frequent pit stops to marvel nature and ponder humanity.

    12. Abyss Lake Trail

    Where: Mount Evans Wilderness Area

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 8 miles

    Nestled between Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt, you get constant views of some impressive peaks. It culminates at Abyss Lake, where rocky slopes surrounding the lake are home to bighorn sheep and mountain goats, so keep your eyes peeled for the wooly creatures.

    13. Devil's Head Fire Lookout

    Where: Pike and San Isabel National Forests

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Length: 2.8 miles

    The first part of this hike is nice, with hefty historical significance, though often crowded. But it's all worth it once you get to the only fire lookout in Colorado, which offers a ridiculously gorgeous panoramic view. It's at its most stunning in fall colors.

    14. Conundrum Creek Trail

    Where: White River National Forest

    Difficulty: Moderate-to-Hard

    Length: 17 miles

    This trail is pretty manageable and incredibly scenic, but it is certainly a lengthy out-and-back trek. It follows Conundrum Creek as it weaves up through woods and meadows and passes under the shadows of Mt. Hayden, Cathedral Peak, and Castle Peak. When you spot a cabin, the Conundrum Hot Springs are just ahead!

    15. Mountain Lion Trail

    Where: Golden Gate Canyon State Park

    Difficulty: Hard

    Length: 6.7 miles

    This moderate-to-hard hike is packed with high mountain wilderness beauty, but balances demanding inclines with rolling green vistas. It's a quintessential Rocky Mountain experience, and is lovely at almost anytime of the year.

    16. Mirror Lake & Lone Eagle Peak Trail

    Steven Bratman CC BY / Via Flickr: darkdenver

    Where: Indian Peaks Wilderness

    Difficulty: Hard

    Length: 12.2 miles

    This one will take the better part of your day, but it is definitely worth it. Miles of shady, gorgeous forestry and an overall smooth, steady incline make this a lovely hike for those looking for a workout. The stunning views of Lone Eagle Peak don't hurt, either. hurt, either.

    17. Mount Elbert Trail

    Where: Rocky Mountain National Park

    Difficulty: Mad Hard

    Length: 9 miles

    This Colorado's highest mountain and one of the more strenuous of the 14ers. The first part of the trail is a decent incline through thick, beautiful forests with tons of wildlife, and though it's only a couple miles until you're above the tree line, you're far from done. Prepare yourself for an intense workout with a gorgeous payoff.

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