Summer Hikes on the Front Range of Colorado

1 July 2013

Summer is here and it’s getting hot, way too hot. However, there are some great hikes in and around the foothills that you can still enjoy, while hopefully not melting into a puddle even on the most miserable of days. Here are five of my favourites that I try and do at least once or twice a year.

Alderfer Three Sisters

threesisters_hike
(near Evergreen)
This semi-short loop hike, with a small spur to a viewpoint, has been one of my favourites since I was a little kid. Great for both hiking and more advance mountain bikers, the Sisters Trail loops through pine trees and rock outcropping for just enough adventure. Depending on which direction to take the loop, The Brother outlook offers views of Evergreen Lake, Elephant and Evergreen Mountains, and Mount Evans to the west. To get here, take County Road 73 south of Evergreen and turn right on Buffalo Park Road, the parking area will be located about two miles up the road on the right.
Distance: 2 miles w/ spur (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Free, Jeffco Open Space

Sugarloaf Mountain

sugarloaf_hike
(near Boulder)
Located just west of Boulder, I regualarly hike this trail to get photos of the Indian Peaks Wilderness and amazing weather shots. This solo peak rises above every ridge line east of Boulder to offer beautiful 360-degree vistas. The best part of this hike is that it’s only a 20 minute hike from the trailhead and can easily be done at night for great views of meteor showers and “super moons”. To get here, head up Boulder Canyon to Sugarloaf Road, after 4.6 miles turn for the Switzerland trail and park when the road opens up to a parking area. The trail is located to the east through the gate blocking a 4×4 trail.
Distance: 1 mile (roundtrip)
Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Free, Boulder County Open Space

Rosalie Peak, Epaulet Mountain, and Unnamed 13530′

rosalie_hike
(near Mount Evans)
While the road to the top of Mount Evans might make this 14er one of the least exciting to “summit”, three of my favourite 13ers are easily accessible from this road and can take you far enough away from the crowds of tourists driving up to the top to actually enjoy this area. At the first switchback after Summit Lake, park your car. From there, you can wind around to the west to catch the ridge line that connects these three peaks. However, be careful as this entire hike takes place above treeline in high alpine meadows, and is one of the places I have been struck by lightning.
Distance: about 7 miles (roundtrip)
Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $6, National Forest Service Area

Chicago Lakes

chicagolakes_hike
(near Echo Lake, Mt Evans)
This hike brings back memories of my childhood, as it was the first place I had ever gone backpacking. This hike takes you to two high elevation lakes connected by a waterfall, located in the shadow of Mount Evans. There is both great fishing and great camping areas located in this area as well, so I highly recommend making it as an easy backpacking trip for those that have the time. The official in-and-out trail can be accessed from Echo lake and involves dropping into the valley before hiking up to the lakes. However, if you have the option of being dropped off, you can instead hike from Summit Lake down to the lakes, before hiking out to Echo Lake to complete your journey.
Distance: 9.8 miles (roundtrip)
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
Cost: Free OR $6 depending on entry point

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

rattlesnake_hike
(near Eldorado Springs)
This trail, located within Eldorado Canyon State Park, offers a cooling hike up the ridge line overlooking the Denver and Rio Grande railroad line where it enters the Rocky Mountains. The loop also offers amazing views of the many climbing areas located in the canyon and into the Indian Peaks Wilderness area to the west. Note: this is a very popular state park and can be extremely crowded on weekends. This trail is accessible by the small parking area located about 1.3 miles inside the entrance gate on the left side.
Distance: 2.4 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $8 per car, Colorado State Parks

I hope you enjoy these hikes as much as I do!

Photo credits: Andrew Murray, Summit Post, Colorado Nature Hikes

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