No matter where you live in the Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins-Colorado Springs metroplex, there’s bound to be a trail nearby. Our team at Corken + Company shares a few close-to-home front-range hikes that will get you outside without having to travel too far.
Arvada: Van Bibber Creek Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles round-trip
Choose your own adventure among Van Bibber Park’s five miles of trails. They have a paved path, Van Bibber Creek Trail, which runs along the northern edge of the park and abuts some envy-inducing backyards. To make your legs burn just a little, opt for the 1.8-mile Outer Loop; the dirt footpath climbs (or descends) a brief but steep hill. To fill your lungs with some fresh air before the workday begins, you can take a few laps around the open space. Between the chirping birds, ample greenery, and expansive sky, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of the city.
Boulder: Chapman Drive Trail
Distance: 5.8 miles round-trip
Chapman Drive Trail is a different way to access the dozen or so popular trails that spider out from Realization Point in Boulder Canyon. It also has a gratis parking lot off CO-119, whereas there’s only paid parking at the Point. The gravel path is wide—great for social distancing—and is uphill the whole way, but it’s a mild ascent.
Castle Rock: Rimrock Trail To Creek Bottom Trail
Distance: 5.4 miles round-trip
Cost: $9 daily vehicle pass or free entry with an annual state parks pass ($80 to $120)
Castlewood Canyon’s west parking lot is relatively quiet because it sits on the opposite end of the park from the main entrance, which makes it an ideal base for a COVID-era jaunt. From the parking area, you’ll begin on the easy Homestead Trail before coming to a fork about 0.5 miles in. Flow left to cross off Rimrock Trail first. The overgrown route snakes up roughly 400 feet in elevation to the canyon rim over about a mile. Bear left at the top and pause for photographs at the edge; the steep rock walls drop down into Cherry Creek and a valley covered in Douglas fir and ponderosa pines.
Castle Rock: Challenge Hill
Distance: 0.15-mile climb (200 steps) plus 0.6-mile trail
Focus on putting one foot in front of the other as you climb the 200 wooden steps to the top of Challenge Hill in this expansive urban park. If you need an excuse for a breather, stop for a photo-op at one of the markers that appear every 10 steps. After congratulating yourself for reaching the top, take in the city views and try to make out the friends you left behind on the soccer pitch or 2.5-acre playground.
Evergreen: Bergen Peak Trail
Distance: 10.5 miles round-trip
Shade will be your saving grace during this lengthy climb to the summit of 9,701-foot Bergen Peak. Long switchbacks, knotted with roots and rocks, help you traverse the 2,000 or so feet of elevation gain over approximately five miles. The first section, Meadow View Trail, is an easy romp past fir and pine trees. The climb begins in earnest about one mile in, where Bergen Peak Trail officially starts, but it’s at the three-mile marker where you’ll start to test your legs on sustained, rocky ascents that are gratefully broken up with some flatter segments. The junction with Too Long Trail (see “Alternate Route” below) marks the beginning of the final push. The switchbacks tighten until you make one last swing around the hillside and reach the aspen-dotted summit and its sweeping valley views.
Golden: Rawhide Trail
Distance: 5.5 miles round-trip
White Ranch is the largest park in Jeffco Open Space and, one of the most idyllic spots in the metro area. It’s also one of just two Jeffco parks where permitted camping is allowed, although new reservations have been suspended due to high visitation. The Rawhide Trail is accessible from either of the park’s two west parking lots. Traveling clockwise around this oddly shaped loop, the trail starts out wide, passing through a grassy valley before, about one mile in, hitting the first of a few short, flowy hills. Around the two-mile point, you’ll finally feel like you’re entering the woods, and the rolling route narrows, taking you through trees that suddenly disperse and reveal expansive views toward Denver. Though Rawhide intersects with a number of other paths, the trail is well-marked with directional signs.
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