Did you make a New Years Resolution to loose weight or become more healthy and active? It's already 3 weeks into January, are you keeping up with your resolution? I sure haven't been very good at it this year. I thought you might need some inspiration as well; so here is a list of trails in the Front Range area that are great to hike in the winter; on many of these trails you can accomplish hiking to a peak, an arch, a rim and lots more. Not only is hiking a great outdoor activity, it gets your heart pumping and makes you feel great; plus you get the change to see amazing Colorado scenery, especially in the winter.
Here is a list of some of my favorite places to hike that are great during any season, but the winter season offers less crowded trails and a spectacular winter wonderland after a newly fallen snow; or this being Colorado it will often provide you with a sunny day in the 60s. The Front Range offers numerous place to hike year round, but I am the kind of person who would rather hike to a peak, point of interest, or at best I'd prefer to hike a loop trail rather than an out and back. One of my favorite mountains on the Front Range is Bear Peak which is west of Boulder. Standing on the summit provides you with incredible views of the Continental Divide Mountains to the west, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park, and James Peak
Wilderness; I was even able to see Pikes Peak on the crystal clear winter day. You are also greeted with great views of the city of Boulder, Denver in the distance and the airport too. Click here for more info on Bear Peak.
Another popular hike in Boulder is the Royal Arch hike which takes you to a huge arch after a few miles of hiking (photos don't show it's true huge size), it's a great place to stop, eat lunch, and take in the views of the city and Front Range. Numerous other trails in Boulder can be found on their Open Space website.
If you'd prefer to hike farther South and West head out I-70 to Evergreen; Bergen Peak is a 9,000+ foot mountain located in both Jefferson County Open Space and National Forest land. This is a long trail that continues to wind uphill through the pine forest to the summit. Just before the top of the peak is a rock outcropping that provides great views of the surrounding mountains; which is a great place for your lunch before heading back down. Be sure to get a few photos with the summit sign in the woods!
A less known hiking trail in Clear Creek County is the summit trail of Saddleback Mountain. This mountain is easily seen from I-70 near the Beaver Brook /Floyd Hill Exit, and can be hiked pretty easily. Click here for directions and info on this trail. Views from this summit are looking east toward the city of Denver; and if you like uncrowded trails, this is a great pick.
Another peak that is easily accessible on the Front Range is Mount Morrison. Many people don't know that aside from the Red Rocks trails throughout the park, you can also hike to the top of Mt. Morrison. This hike is a little more challenging near the summit; and is a great warm-up hike for those 14ers which are out of reach for most of us hikers in the dead of winter.
Farther south still is Roxborough State Park; this park does charge a $6 entrance fee per vehicle, but once inside there are several amazing trails to choose from. My favorite is hiking to Carpenter Peak; when sitting on the top rock outcroppings, you are provided with views to the east and west. The Rim trail is another favorite of mine in this park; great views of the state park the entire hike.
One of my favorite peaks on the Front Range is near Mt. Evans called Squaw Mountain; if you hike this trail in winter, plan for some snow, but it's still a great hike-able trail which continues to the top of the mountain which has a fire lookout station on the summit at 10,635ft. There is a picnic table on the rocky peak that is a great place for a picnic, in summer or winter; I think the Fire Lookout Person has the best office on the Front Range, hands down!
If none of these trails are peaking your interest; or you just want to hike, no peaks intended, then here are a few more good trails on the Front Range.
Deer Creek Canyon is a large park in the Jefferson County Open Space system that offers numerous trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels, along with picnic tables and restrooms. Dakota Ridge is another trail along the Front Range which is along Hogback Mountain, and provides great views of both Red Rocks, Green Mountain, C-470 and the city to the south. There are also dinosaur tracks at the end of the trail! Clear Creek Canyon which is west of Golden on 6th Ave offers lots of hiking trails that are not as well known to the public. Jefferson County is working to create more trails in this area, but you won't find restrooms or trail maps yet. But if you are looking for some seclusion on a hike, try hiking in Clear Creek Canyon.
If you still haven't found a trail you'd like to hike; check out my "search" tool near the top of the page to find a place you'd like to check out.
Summit Post is one of my favorite sites and has nearly every mountain hiked in Colorado that I have needed info on. The Denver Examiner has a great hiking writer named Deb Stanley, and I always enjoy reading her brief hiking posts with good directions to each trail.
Personal blogs offer lots of great info regarding trails you may never have heard of; I really enjoy reading Life in Colorado, Mike posts with humor and great photography. Farther west, this blog discusses trails high in the mountains for a long weekend hike.
I hope you have gotten some inspiration from these trails, and I'd love to hear your favorite Front Range or winter hiking trail. I am always looking for new places to explore myself.