Hello happy hikers! I hope this blog post finds you well and in the need for an adventure! I grew up in the Front Range and have been fortunate enough to explore some of the most beautiful places in Colorado.
In my mind, a perfect day in Colorado has a hike involved, followed by an amazing meal. Nature’s not enough, but nature and food is enough! That is why I have compiled a list of 5 hikes near Denver paired with my recommendations of where to eat afterwards.
1 – Hell’s Hole // Tommyknocker Brewery
- Location: Idaho Springs
- RT Distance: 9.3 mi
- Elevation Gain: 1,916 ft
- Restaurant: Tommyknockers Brewery
This hike is a gem! It’s about a 45 minute drive from Denver, and is not very crowded. This trail does not end at a lake or summit, but it leads to a beautiful opening in the middle of some gorgeous mountains. It’s an amazing, challenging hike. There is also a campground next to the trailhead, so you can enjoy some quality camping in Arapaho National Forest, too!
After you finish this hike, you’ll drive back through the historic mining town of Idaho Springs where you should grab a bite to eat at Tommyknockers! This brewery has amazing food, beer, and a great atmosphere! They have a giant soft pretzel you will not want to miss! Check out their menu here: https://tommyknocker.com/
2 – Eagle’s View Trail Loop // Aspen Perk Cafe
- Location: Conifer
- RT Distance: 4.2 mi
- Elevation Gain: 1,082 ft
- Restaurant: Aspen Perk Cafe
Eagle’s View Trail is found at Reynolds Ranch Park, right outside of Conifer up 285. It’s about a 35 minute drive from Denver. This trail offers a shorter workout, stellar views down south to see Pikes Peak, aspens, and forest views. There is a huge parking lot, restrooms at the trailhead, and a picnic area. It’s a lovely escape from the city.
After you complete this hike, I suggest you drive further into Conifer and enjoy some grub at Aspen Perk Cafe. They serve breakfast and lunch, and have some awesome drinks. I am seriously in love with their breakfast. Check it out here: https://www.aspenperkcafe.com/menu
3 – Bergen Peak // Evergreen Brewery
- Location: Evergreen
- RT Distance: 10.3 mi
- Elevation Gain: 2,227 ft
- Restaurant: Evergreen Brewery
If you are looking for a challenging hike up to a mountain summit, I suggest bagging Bergen Peak. You start this hike in Elk Meadow Park, walking through a field winding through some trees, then you begin to climb. As you go up, there are some viewpoints that make lovely break spots, and then you make it to the summit, feeling satisfied.
After this challenging hike, you are going to need some grub. I definitely recommend checking out Evergreen Brewery. I know I’m suggesting a lot of breweries here, but this one has an IPA Mac and Cheese that makes you feel better after a hard hike. For more information check it out here: https://www.evergreenbrewingco.com/
4 – Gem Lake // Ed’s Cantina & Grill
- Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
- RT Distance: 3.4 mi
- Elevation Gain: 990 ft
- Restaurant: Ed’s Cantina & Grill
Are you looking for a getaway from the front range but do not want to pay the National Park entrance fee? Well, do I have the hike for you! Gem Lake is located right outside Estes Park near the Stanley Hotel in the Lumpy Ridge section of RMNP. There is no entrance station here, so you can park at the TH without paying the entrance fee. This hike is also excellent any time of year! There are beautiful aspens, views of the town of Estes, and Long’s Peak. The lake is beautiful and if you can, you should climb up the rock formations to see an even more spectacular view!
There are many great restaurants in Estes Park, but I always enjoy Ed’s Cantina. They use fresh ingredients and have so many delicious options. It’s seriously some great Mexican. Enjoy! https://www.edscantina.com/
5 – Mount Falcon Castle Trail Loop // The Cow
- Location: Morrison
- RT Distance: 6.7 mi
- Elevation Gain: 1,601 ft
- Restaurant: The Cow
If you want to enjoy a hike that is right outside of Denver, come on over to Morrison and hike Mount Falcon. If you park and hike up the Castle Trail, you will enjoy views of Red Rocks Amphitheater, forests, Denver, and end up at the ruins of an old mansion. This hike truly has it all! And bonus: it’s a great workout! Just be sure to watch out for all the psycho mountain bikers (who do not yield) and get to the TH either earlier or later in the day to find a parking spot!
Once you’ve completed this hike, you’re definitely going to want a treat. Whether it’s a great breakfast spread, burger, or an ice cream cone, The Cow an Eatery has an option for everyone. Moooove on over to their website to learn more: https://thecoweatery.com/
Alright friends, there you go! I will definitely write about other hikes near Denver, but I thought I’d leave a taste here now. I hope this inspires you to get outside, hike a little, and enjoy some delicious food!