I will be in Denver in a couple of weeks on business and have two days free. I'd like to go into the mountains and take a hike, but I'm having trouble finding the right information. (It's my first time in the US, so part of it is that I don't really know what to expect in terms of signage, population density, etc.) I have found many websites that describe hikes but either they are all extremely short (1 mile), or they don't have GPX files / maps, or they don't specify whether the hike is accessible in autumn / winter, or it is not clear if you can get there by public transport, ... Because I have so little time there, I want to plan as much as possible in advance, i.e. I don't want to have to go to the tourist office when I'm there.

Is there a website or organization that collects information like this? Or a limited number of reliable sources that I can easily combine? Of course, I only need 2 hikes, so I don't need a website with all these features. If you can recommend anything, that would be very helpful as well!

The most important requirements are:

  • Accessible in end of November without special equipment (no snow shoes, rock climbing gear or anything like that)
  • Reachable from Denver by public transport
  • Feasible in a day (including transport) with moderate fitness, say no more than 10 miles but probably shorter depending on elevation gain
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    Public transport in the US outside of major cities is usually pretty bad. I am doubtful that you will be able to find a hike (which is usually not inside a city) that is reachable by public transport.
    – Esther
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:24
  • cpr.org/2022/05/27/… but some of these buses only run in the summer, you will have to check for each one.
    – Esther
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:33
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    "I have so little time there" so plan your hikes from easily accessible urban areas. Nov 7, 2022 at 21:46
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    You could have a look in the komoot app. You can choose hikes (or biking...) and your level of fitness. For the autumn and bus part I would ask the people sharing their hikes. Because it is some time before you start, they may answer your questions in time Nov 8, 2022 at 18:32
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    Goodness gracious! You want to use public transportation to travel to a trailhead. In Denver. In the end of November. I am deeply concerned about your safety. I think you should heed the warnings in C Teegarden's answer a well as the very good comments on that answer. You should familiarize yourself with some of the stories on strangeoutdoors.com about the myriad ways people have found to accidentally kill themselves in the North American wilderness. You want to avoid dying by lack of respect for the wild west like the Death Valley Germans (Google that story) Nov 9, 2022 at 2:50

2 Answers 2


I don't have a specific resource to point to, but I do have a personal recommendation: the foothills adjacent to Boulder, CO.

As far as public transport, Boulder is a bright spot in a region whose public transit is otherwise not so great. The Flatiron Flyer bus has frequent express service between downtown Denver (Union Station) and downtown Boulder, taking about 45 minutes. There are trailheads within walking distance of the downtown Boulder bus station, such as the Boulder Canyon Trail.

Or, you can transfer to a local Boulder bus, such as the SKIP which runs every 5-10 minutes all day, and serves some of the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Park trailheads along Lehigh St. and Greenbriar Blvd. The OMSP area offers an extensive network of trails, ranging from flat to very steep, so you should be able to choose something that suits you. The peaks have great views.

This area is at relatively low elevation by Colorado standards; the flat parts are around 5500 feet (say 1700 m), and the peaks around 8500 feet (say 2600 m). This will be nicer for your altitude acclimatization, and also more likely to be snow free. The higher mountains above 10000 feet (3000 meters) are already snow covered.

Snow can fall in every part of Colorado in November, not only in the mountains, and it is entirely possible that there will be days when you can't really hike anywhere without snowshoes. But your chances are reasonably good.

Downtown Boulder also has lots of nice cafes, restaurants and breweries if you want to relax after your hike before returning to Denver.

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    Golden might be another option. Bus service from downtown Denver to downtown Golden, various hiking options nearby. Might need an Uber to/from specific trailheads (or the Coors brewery tour).
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 7, 2022 at 23:08
  • I was going to suggest this too. We did a trip in Denver and took the bus to Boulder, hiked up Mt. Sanitas, and finished at one of the breweries on Pearl Street.
    – David K
    Nov 8, 2022 at 13:12
  • Thanks so much! I additionally found that on alltrails.com people leave weather reports on many trails in these areas (this is probably something well-known to many, but it was new to me). Having narrowed it down to Boulder / Golden (thanks @JonCuster) I can easily use this website to find something suitable.
    – user130074
    Nov 8, 2022 at 14:49
  • There's also a train out to Golden (W line), in addition to the bus (16/16L). But it leaves you at the government complex so you'd have to uber/otherwise get yourself downtown or to the trail heads. Nov 8, 2022 at 15:45
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    @user130074: They're talking about Golden. Nov 9, 2022 at 15:08

A word of caution. People die when hiking in Colorado regularly due to adverse weather events - especially during the winter months. Snow can come suddenly and hit hard. I recommend following the advice in the answer by @Nate Eldredge as this limits your elevation to much safer levels.

If you really, really want to go up into the mountains, please consider taking public transport to one of the ski communities and experience the elevation and scenery from safer surroundings. Without adequate gear - and that means extremely well prepared - it's not a good idea to go out hiking in the mountains during winter on your own at higher elevations.

By adequate gear, I mean a winter rated tent, clothing, sleeping bag plus food and fuel for the entire trip plus backup communication gear.

Specific areas to visit would include Rocky Mountain National Park - it has some winter accessible trails such as Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake trail per this site:

Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park Featuring one of Colorado’s most beautiful alpine lakes, this 3.6-mile out-and-back trail features incredible high-alpine beauty.

Continue on another half mile to Lake Haiayaha, one of the most beautiful vistas in Rocky Mountain National Park. Bonus point if you catch Lake Haiayaha for sunrise.

Distance: 3.6 miles Elevation: 846 feet Difficulty: Easy Red Tape and Local Tips: No dogs. Be aware of avalanche terrain. There are two distinct spots, one before Emerald Lake and one right after on the way to Haiayaha making this an excellent spot to practice avalanche awareness.

The Bear Lake parking area fills up by 8 am, even in winter, so plan on arriving early or take a shuttle.

Make it a day with these amazing hikes in Estes Park you can’t miss.

It has some other great recommendations as well. There is a bus that runs from Union Station in Denver to the park discussed here.

The same "20 best ..." page also mentions a good hike in Crested Butte:

Located a stone’s throw away from downtown Crested Butte, this easy winter hiking trail in Colorado skirts the backside of Mount Crested Butte. You’ll get plenty of sweet mountain and valley views with this relaxing hike.

Distance: 4.8 miles Elevation: 374 feet Difficulty: Easy Red Tape and Local Tips: None. Dogs can use this trail.

There is a daily bus from Denver to Crested Butte listed here operated by Alpine Express. It departs Union Station at 1:50 PM local and arrives in Crested Butte about six hours later.

This page mentions the Strawberry Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs (item 7):

Why you should go: A magically snowy hike through a forest to a gorgeous hot spring.

Nearest town: Steamboat Springs Distance: 6.2 miles Difficulty: Intermediate Elevation gain: 900 feet What could be more rewarding than a long soak in a hot spring after a chilly winter hike through the snow? Strawberry Park Hot Springs offers a remote and romantic atmosphere tucked into the forest above the town of Steamboat Springs.

Most people who visit these popular hot springs in Steamboat Springs either drive or take the shuttle. However, if you want a fun adventure, consider hiking to the back way to the hot spring. The trail is generally pretty gradual and do-able (though traction devices are sometimes helpful). There’s just one small, rocky section in the middle, but hey, it’s winter hiking in Colorado – nothing is too easy. You can always take the shuttle back if you don’t want to hike both ways.

Once you reach the hot spring, pay the entry fee and treat yourself to a long soak in the pools. It’s always magical in the winter, but it’s especially nice if there’s a but of light snow falling around you.

There are multiple options for transit from Denver to Steamboat Springs - Greyhound runs buses frequently and there are also shuttles as shown here. The trip is about 4 hours.

  • Thanks! I'll take it into account. Staying in the regions suggested by Nate Eldredge and checking up to date conditions on the website I mentioned here, optionally renting spikes, I hope I'll be fine! I definitely didn't plan to go on a high summit; I'd enjoy walking through lower regions as well.
    – user130074
    Nov 8, 2022 at 15:13
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    @user130074 - you're very welcome. I assumed you were likely to follow the advice of the other answer but wanted to add this one for others who may stop by. I vividly remember an uncle taking his two nephews out hiking for the day without anywhere close to adequate gear. They got lost from the trail during a snowstorm and the younger one was the only one to survive because he stayed at the makeshift campsite they managed to set up. The uncle and older brother left to try to find help and ended up worse off.
    – user131917
    Nov 8, 2022 at 15:20
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    We constantly have out-of-towners and out-of-staters getting stranded/dying because of inadequate preparation. Checking conditions is important, but you have to keep in mind what they say about the weather: "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes." We can have 70 degrees and sun and 20 degrees and snow in the same 12 hour period. A few months ago I personally experienced a 30-degree temperature drop in the span of 15 minutes in downtown Denver. Please take precautions in terms of gear. Nov 8, 2022 at 15:46
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas My wife was at a meeting in Boulder once, I think in late spring or early summer, where people had the ominous idea to start a mountain hike at 4pm when thunderstorms were clearly coming. They didn't even bring rain gear. And those were all people with PhDs in physics or related fields…
    – gerrit
    Nov 9, 2022 at 7:18
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    @CTeegarden, I do much appreciate your post but officially it is not an answer and only answers are allowed in these fields. Can you please edit in some suggestions on where to hike so we can save your post and its comments?
    – Willeke
    Nov 9, 2022 at 9:10

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