Fifteen Denver Hikes to Get You Outside This Summer
Can’t find a camp, don’t have time to go to the mountains, and need something to do in our New Abnomal? Feeling a little stir crazy (yet healthy) in your house and just want to move?
We’ve got fifteen great hikes right here in metro Denver to help you social distance yet not be distant. They’ll get you out of the closed, but close by, so you can stretch your legs, enjoy the first signs of spring, and breathe some fresh air. Get away from all the noise, and just, ahhh, enjoy.
Shake with Your Feet!
But first, let’s take precautions. Please follow the CDC guidelines, wash your hands, use good social distance techniques, and stay home if you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not feeling well. Additionally, instead of shaking hands and hugging, shake your feet! Put one foot out and touch the foot of your friend! It’s a foot shake!
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Health Benefit of Hiking and Trail Etiquette
Hiking has great health benefits. Beyond the ones we all know like exercise, vitamin D absorption and movement, hiking also helps clear the mind and releases stress. And we could all use a little stress reduction right now, right?
When you’re out on the trail, even here in the city where you’re urban hiking, you’ll want to follow the Leave No Trace Principles of a good hiker. If trash cans are available, use them. But if not, please bring your trail bar wrappers home with you. Make sure you’ve brought water, and if you happen to have a single-use water bottle, take it home with you to recycle as most trailheads don’t have recycling cans. Gotta pee? Use the restrooms at the trailheads. If you find a tree to go behind, please be sure to pack out whatever you push out, including your toilet paper.
Even though you’ll be in the city for these Denver hiking suggestions, make sure you are prepared with basic hiking needs. Bring water and a snack, wear a hat and sunscreen, have a phone and money, and read a map or use GPS. Although urban hiking puts you closer to emergency centers, you might still need help from the trail. Be prepared with proper gear.
You’ll want to follow trail etiquette even on urban trails. Horses are allowed on some metro trails, so you’ll yield to them. Bikers yield to hikers. Uphill (although not much of that in Denver!) yields to downhill.
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And finally, if you’re feeling well, here are a plethora of hikes in Denver to enjoy right now and to get away from the New Abnormal noise that permeates our lives right now.
15 Great Denver Hikes to Do Right Now
Go to Star K Ranch in Aurora. If the Visitors Center is open, you can go inside and see stuffed animals, learn about the history of the Ranch, and discover its flora and fauna. If it’s not open, enjoy the horse sculpture outside, and then head out on a trail. Several trails loop within the park. They range from short 1/2 mile loops to longer 5 miles loops that you can combine with the Sand Creek Greenway and the High Line Canal Trail on the Norfolk Glen Loop.
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Head out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. You’ve got several choices here. If you want to visit the Visitors Center, drop in for some fascinating history of the Arsenal and the bison. If it’s closed, head from the parking lot out the back of the Visitors Center. Stop and see the ferrets, then hike on a sandy/gravel trail out to Lake Mary and Lake Ladora. You can walk on a floating trail (if it’s open), see amazing bird life, and catch glimpses of deer. Afterward, take the car route for the 17 mile drive to see the bison herd.
Or, if you want to avoid people altogether, head to the First Creek at DEN Open Space Trail. It’s on the east side of the Refuge at 56th and Pena Blvd. You can hike westerly into the Refuge on a dirt trail where there’s a good chance you’ll see bison and deer, or easterly on a paved trail along First Creek. (Pro tip: Got littles? Throw their bikes in the car and go easterly. It’s a great paved path for littles on bikes.)
Denver has many great lakes to walk around. Try out Sloans Lake, Lake Huron, Harvey Park, City Park or Wash Park. You can loop the lake and then amble in the parks or the attached neighborhoods. People are always out and about around these lakes. Keep your social distance, but enjoy the outdoors at the same time.
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If distance is what you want, you can crank out some serious miles on trail right here in Denver. Try the 9 Creeks Loop for 42 miles, the Sand Creek Greenway for 14, the High Line Canal Trail for 71, or the Platte River for, what, infinity? Trailheads throughout Denver are easily accessible by car and transit, so think about one-way trips with transit or Lyft combos. Worried about Coronavirus in public transit? Do out n backs instead.
Denver’s neighborhoods and parks are loaded great curated loops of incredible history and intrigue. Our favorite neighborhood hikes are Five Points, Whittier, Stapleton (now called Central Park), Park Hill, and Highland. Pick one and head out for a good loop checking out the architecture and history of your nearby neighborhood. Here are 78 other neighborhood walk suggestions.
Be Safe. Kind. Happy
Honestly, we are taking your health seriously, and we don’t ever want to suggest something that would harm you or our community. So, please, again, take your CDC precautions and hike at your own risk.
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See you on the trail,