Best Spring Hikes in Colorado


Bradee Felton

February 19, 2024

When most people think of hiking in Colorado, they mainly think of warmer summer days in the mountains. But if you know how to time your hikes and line your trails up according to season, you can really get a year-round hiking experience in Colorado if you know where to go! Spring is a beautiful shoulder season with higher water flow rates making it great for waterfall and river-side hikes, as well as some lower elevation mountain options that get you that wide-open Colorado feel even with snow lingering on the surrounding peaks. Let’s dive into my top options for spring hiking!

Chief Mountain

Chief Mountain is one of my absolute favorite trails for getting out and stretching the legs in spring. It’s located in the Front Range near Idaho Springs, about a 40 minute drive from Denver. While it can absolutely be a winter hike (snowshoes or spikes recommended), I like to hit Chief Mountain when I want to shake off the cabin fever and get some wide open views in spring. It is a moderate trail with just under 1,000 feet of elevation gain in about 3 miles. The top offers 360 degree views of the surrounding area where you can easily see Longs Peak and Pikes Peak. On a clear day you can see Mount Evans, Mount Bierstadt, and even downtown Denver. A few things to keep in mind about this hike – parking can be limited on weekends when the trail gets a bit busier, so plan to get there a little early. Also, as with any spring hike in Colorado, be prepared with layers for any weather. For a deeper dive on my layering strategies, check out my Guide To Spring Hiking Apparel blog.

a girl on a mountain hiking in spikes

Kruger Rock

Next up on the list, and a bit similar to Chief Mountain in terms of specs, is Kruger Rock. It is also rated as a moderate trail coming in at about 3.6 miles and right around 1,000 feet of elevation gain. This trail is typically closed to the public mid-December through March 1st, so it is a great option to get out in spring. Along the way, there are a few steep sections that will get the legs burning but nothing too long or crazy and once you reach the summit, you’ll get panoramic views of Estes Park, the Continental Divide, and Rocky Mountain National Park. The views are beautiful, making the hike well worth doing. A heads up for parking – to enter the Hermit Park area, there is a $10 entry permit fee

girl sitting on a mountain top

Brown Creek Falls

Waterfall hikes in the spring and early summer are the best in my opinion since the flow rates are higher due to snow melt. One of my favorite ones to hike to is Brown Creek Falls near Nathrop. This is a 6 mile moderate trail with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain as well. Along the hike you’ll get views of Collegiate Peaks in the distance as well which is a gorgeous bonus and the waterfall is a 100 ft cascade over rocks that makes this hike well worth it.

girl and baby on a waterfall hike

Cheesman Gulch

For a more gradual and easier hike, Cheesman Gulch is going to be a great option. This one is located near Sedalia and clocks in at about 5.5 miles with only 500 ft of elevation gain. It meanders alongside the crystal clear South Platte River and if you are into fishing at all, there are some great spots along the way to cast a line out. Once the weather starts warming up the trail becomes more and more popular, so getting to the trailhead earlier in the day is a good idea to avoid parking issues. 

a girl hiking with white mountains in the background

Rattlesnake Gulch

Rattlesnake Gulch is a hike located in one of my favorite state parks in CO – Eldorado Canyon State Park. This trail is a moderate 3 miles with roughly 800 ft of elevation gain. It is intertwined with some rich history as you hike past the ruins of the historic Crags Hotel. Once rated as a luxurious hotel, it burned down in 1912 leaving some pieces behind that you can still see today. Another amazing feature of this hike is the view from the Continental Divide Overlook which allows you to see spectacular views for miles. 

girl facing a mountain range

Seven Falls

Last but not least we have a true Colorado gem – Seven Falls. This is a memorable experience that is a bit more developed than the other options. It’s a mix of stairs and trails that offer incredible, up-close views of the Seven Falls from a variety of angles. There is a shuttle system to enter the area, a restaurant onsite, as well as a gift shop. If you are wanting a more open view of the area at the top, check out Inspiration Point. For full information on entry, parking, and other logistics, be sure to check the Seven Falls site to make sure you’re up to speed on pricing details before heading out.

girl hiking in front of a waterfall

There really are some great options for getting out and enjoying springtime in Colorado. As with any adventure in CO, make sure to show up prepared with appropriate clothing layers, since weather is likely to change often. I also recommend throwing microspikes into your pack just in case you run into ice patches during the early spring season. Wherever you choose to shake off the cabin fever, have a great time and remember to recreate responsibly! And if you need to start getting in shape for your hikes this year, try my free week of Fit for Hiking.

Happy + healthy trails,


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