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Backpacker Magazine – September 2010

Local Hikes: Denver/Boulder, CO

The best hikes near Denver/Boulder.

by: Ted Alvarez

Eldorado Canyon Trail, Eldorado Canyon SP. (Fredrik Marmsater)
Eldorado Canyon Trail, Eldorado Canyon SP. (Fredrik Marmsater)

Your Guide

Colorado Mountain Club, Denver/Boulder (

Your Hikes
» Royal Arch, Chautauqua Park Climb 3.6 miles (round-trip) through hilly meadows and ponderosa forests to see the Front Range’s only natural arch. The 20-foot span frames downtown Boulder and Colorado’s eastern plains. Miles from city center 30/2; Trip ID 281942

» Eldorado Canyon Trail, Eldorado Canyon SP  A 3.5-mile out-and-back switchbacks past sheer red sandstone walls and world-class rock climbing routes, and ends at cascades along upper South Boulder Creek. Extra time? Add the Walker Ranch Loop for seven more miles of rolling terrain and premier flyfishing. Miles from city center 35/20; Trip ID 31725

» Heart Lake, James Peak Wilderness The payoff: “a dreamy, emerald-green lake just below the Continental Divide,” says club vice-chair Janine Fugere. The price: a 2,099-foot ascent in 4.2 miles. Icing: sweet alpine views and abundant trout along shore. Bonus: Overnighters will find a sheltered camp in a stand of trees just east of 11,310-foot Heart Lake. Miles from city center 61/30; Trip ID 775411

» Fern Lake, Rocky Mountain NP
This RMNP highlight reel features an arch of house-size boulders at mile one, a churning confluence of three rivers known as The Pool at mile 1.5, and misty Fern Falls at 2.7. At mile 3.8 (the turnaround), gape at gray giants like Little Matterhorn, Notchtop Mountain, and Stones Peak surrounding spruce-lined Fern Lake. Miles from city center 74/45; Trip ID 5728

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