When the weather is warm, and the ground is mostly untouched by snow, dust off your hiking boots and hit the trails. Several hundred trails are waiting for you here. Now is the time to venture through the forest, surrounded by plant and animal life with unbelievable views of rivers, alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Explore the Rocky Mountain wilderness with these unique hikes in Winter Park, Colorado.
Anyone looking for scenic hikes in Colorado needs to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the go-to spot for visitors and locals searching for adventure. There are over 300 miles of trails filled with wildlife and mountain vistas less than an hour from Winter Park. Almost all the trails in the park are accessible year-round – make sure to check weather conditions and wear snowshoes in the winter.
For unbeatable waterfall views, head to the east entrance of the park and start at the Glacier Gorge trailhead for a half-mile hike to Alberta Falls. This popular hike in Rocky Mountain National Park passes through pines and aspens to reach the 30-foot waterfall. At this point, hikers have the option to continue their hike to Mills Lake or Loch Lake.
For a longer hike on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, start at the Green Mountain Trailhead. Hike to Granite Falls as you pass through meadows and forests on this more secluded trail. At 10.3 miles roundtrip with a 1,000-foot elevation gain, this hike is considered moderate. Be on the lookout for wildlife such as moose and elk. The Alberta Falls and Granite Falls trails both allow horses, as do most of the trails in the park. Make sure to check the list of areas closed to stock use before you go horseback riding.
The Vasquez Peak Wilderness encompasses 12,300 acres just southwest of downtown Winter Park. It’s worthwhile to devote an entire day hiking, backpacking or horseback riding through this diverse area. Explore the trails to travel along creeks, alpine lakes and impressive peaks, and catch a glimpse of ecosystems at varying elevations. The top of Vasquez Peak stretches to a height of nearly 13,000 feet! The Continental Divide Trail also runs through this wilderness area. Hiking is best in the warmer months; however, high elevations mean more thunderstorms. Make sure to check the weather in advance. Avalanches can be common in the winter. For more information, consult the Sulphur Ranger District.
For a leisurely hike, try the Yankee Doodle Trail which begins in downtown Winter Park and reaches 8,800 feet above sea level. It has a steep start with a few rocky sections and is also open to trail running and mountain biking. The 5-mile trail is great for hikers of all experience levels and is dog-friendly too! At the top, enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Winter Park and Fraser Valley.
Another option if you’re looking for a relaxing Winter Park hiking experience is the Fraser River Trail. It’s ten miles round trip with minimal elevation gain and stretches along the Fraser River. Follow the paved pathway between Winter Park and Fraser for a pleasant, quiet afternoon without having to travel too far from town. There are picnic tables, benches and educational signs along the way. The Fraser River Trail can be used for walking, rollerblading and biking.
Don’t be fooled by the name; the Deadhorse Loop Trail in Winter Park is a beautiful place to explore. We recommend this 7-mile route for more experienced hikers, as some areas can be difficult to traverse. The elevation gain on the ascent is approximately 1,360 feet, reaching 10,370 feet in elevation. It has the benefit of being a “road less traveled” for a peaceful hike. In the winter, this trail is also great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Hikers should save some time to journey along the Second Creek Trail. Make sure you bring a map with you and are mindful of the pathways, as they can become hard to see at times. For a shorter hike, travel the 2-mile roundtrip trek to Broome Hut which is family-friendly, or continue on to the Mount Nystrom Trail. At the top, enjoy views of mountain peaks and the Continental Divide from above the tree line!
Stay near all the incredible things to do here when you book one of Stay Winter Park’s vacation rental properties. After a full day of hiking, you can rest easy knowing you have a comfortable place to relax. We even offer specials and packages to help you experience the best activities in the area!
For a real Rocky Mountain getaway, reserve one of our authentic Winter Park cabins. Enjoy the serenity of this peaceful place as you gaze out into the forests and mountain peaks.