New hiking guidebook explores 60 hikes within 60 miles of Denver and Boulder
by Monica Parpal Stockbridge
Attention, hikers: a new guidebook is available now, offering Denver locals and visitors 60 exceptional hiking trails within 60 miles of the Mile High City. Local author and hiking expert Mindy Sink updated this guidebook for 2020 (it was last published in 2010 by Kim Lipker) and included the latest information on expanded trail systems, short day trips and longer adventures a short distance from the city.
“My goal with this book was to make sure there is a hike for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or experience,” Sink writes in her preface.
Explore the pages of this smartly updated guidebook and it’s clear that there truly is a wide variety of possibilities when it comes to hiking in and around Denver and Boulder. Choose a hike by category such as location, mileage or difficulty, or by details like whether it runs along water or is good for dogs. Regional maps, trail maps and elevation diagrams offer useful overviews of what to expect, and thorough hike profiles provide route descriptions, key information and notes on nearby activities. Plus, full-color photos bring each trail to life.
Near Denver, some of the standout trails include Racoon and Mule Deer Trails at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This is an easy hike with big payoffs in views, ending at the popular Panorama Point viewing area. For something a little more difficult, Hells Hole Trail in the Mount Evans Wildnerness is an 8.5-mile out-and-back experience that will take up to six hours — but reward hikers with views in all directions and rare, ancient bristlecone pine trees to admire.
Plenty of Boulder hikes round out the book’s list of open-air exploits. For the highest views, Mount Audobon Trail is a strenuous yet stunning march to 13,209 feet — offering a high alpine experience only 35 miles from Boulder. In the James Peak Wilderness, South Boulder Creek and Crater Lakes Trails explore two side-by-side lakes popular with campers, anglers and even the occasional moose. For a perfect family hike, try Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat and Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve, packed with plenty of nature to enjoy while walking the pleasant dirt and boardwalk trails.
Trails in the Denver and Boulder area are constantly evolving, and sometimes this involves new technology and amenities. For example, the Wild Loop trail at Devil’s Backbone Open Space in Larimer County is so modern that you can look at an online webcam to gauge how full the parking lot is before you arrive — a good indicator that you might want to hike this one on a weekday. Another hike, Sleepy Lion and Hummingbird Switchback Trails in Button Rock Preserve, features a “little free library” — a sweet surprise 23 miles outside of Boulder!