guides

UPDATED! Colorado Family Hiking Guide

Tried and True Family-Friendly Hikes in Colorado

January 6, 2021

One of the well-known perks of living in Colorado is access to outdoor recreation. With tens of thousands of hiking trails alone, residents (and visitors!) have ample opportunities to lace up their hiking boots and get some fresh air throughout the state.

But which trails are suitable for families? Macaroni Kid publishers from around Colorado have picked some of their tried and true favorites to help you find your family fun® in the great outdoors.

Mallory Cave  ~ Boulder, CO
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • NOT STROLLER FRIENDLY

Mallory Cave Trailhead is located at NCAR in Boulder, which offers a large free parking lot for hikes in this area. When we did this hike on January 6, 2021 the NCAR building was closed, however they did have porta-potties on site. (My daughter was not impressed though, they had seen a LOT of use!) The Mallory Cave trail is a 2.4 roundtrip out and back trail with lots of up and down throughout the trail. There are a lot of trails that cross the cave trail, so be sure to pay attention to the signs. Sadly, the actual cave is closed with no access, but it’s still a fun hike with gorgeous views! 

If you’re winter hiking like we were, my best tip is to check the most recent reviews on AllTrails to find out trail conditions. The day we hiked there were a few icy spots, but our kids handled them well with some help from Daddy.

Recommended by Susan T, publisher of Macaroni Kid Thornton-Northglenn-E. Westminster


Mount Falcon - West Trailhead  ~ Indian Hills, CO
DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: SOME TRAILS

Mount Falcon has 11 miles of trails accessed via the East and West Trailheads. We started at the West Trailhead and hiked to see the castle and the tower, plus an amazing picnic spot (where the above picture was taken) about 3/4 of the way through our hike. For our hike, we started with Castle Trail to the Walker Home Ruins, then Meadow Trail to Tower Trail, then back out to Castle Trail. The Tower Trail was a challenging uphill, definitely not stroller friendly. The kids loved seeing the tower and climbing the rocks near the top. We stopped at Eagle Eye Shelter on the way out for our picnic, and it couldn't' have been a prettier spot! If you're looking for a stroller friendly hike, check out just the Castle Trail hike. (Take a look at the trail map here.)


Hidden Falls at Curt Gowdy  ~ Wyoming
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

This four-mile in and out trail takes you through beautiful scenery ending in a beautiful hidden waterfall. Be prepared to get wet to see the falls, maybe just up to your knees, but kiddos will want water shoes with the rocky soil. Bring a picnic to enjoy while they play! (Want more about Curt Gowdy State Park? Check out our travel review here.)

Recommended by Susan T., publisher of Macaroni Kid Thornton, Northglenn, Westminster.

 

Bear Creek Park Trail  ~ Colorado Springs
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

This easy-going trail is located just behind the Bear Creek Nature Center. With tall grasses, creek views, cottonwood trees, and small bridges to pass over, it's the perfect trail experience for young children to let out some of their energy.

Stroll along the paved trail and you'll find plaques with detailed information about local plants and geography. Take in the mountainous views when you rest at one of the many conveniently located benches.

Recommended by Nicole H, publisher of Macaroni Kid Colorado Springs


Boy Scout Hike at Flagstaff Nature Center ~ Boulder
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Boy Scout Trail is a fun 1.5-mile loop starting at the Flagstaff Nature Center. The middle of the trail ends at May Point which is an excellent place for a picnic. You'll find lots of fun rocks for the kids to climb on while you enjoy the view. We even saw an eagle soaring overhead during our stop! Our 8 and 5-year olds loved this hike.

Recommended by Susan T, publisher of Macaroni Kid Thornton-Northglenn-E. Westminster


Castlewood Canyon ~ Franktown
DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

The Castlewood Dam burst in 1933, sending a 15-foot high wall of water into Denver. Ruins of the original dam and the historic homestead are still available for visitors to see. The Dam Trail is less than half a mile and takes hikers around these ruins.

The 1.2-mile Canyon View Nature Trail is an easy self-guided interpretive nature trail, complete with panels, brochures, audiotape, and gorgeous views of the canyon. The one-mile Inner Canyon and Lake Gulch Trail takes visitors on a moderate hike into the canyon by the creek (look for crawfish!) and back out for nice views.

Recommended by Kyrie C, publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree


Central Garden Trail  ~ Colorado Springs
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

Central Park Trail is located directly off the main parking lot within Garden of the Gods. Being the most popular trail in the park, it's accessible in all seasons and is perfect for the kids to get up close to the gorgeous red rock formations like the Kissing Camels.

Grab a park map at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center to identify the many rock formations with your family.

Recommended by Nicole H, publisher of Macaroni Kid Colorado Springs

Devil's Causeway ~ Yampa
DIFFICULTY: MILD to DIFFICULT • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Devil's Causeway is one of my favorite hikes we've ever done in Colorado. This trail really has it all- beautiful wildflowers along the way and majestic views at every turn! Plus, you can choose how much of a challenge you want. The full Devil's Causeway hike is a 10.5-mile loop, but we did about 5.5 miles in and out.

The first 1.5 miles of this trail are fairly easy, we would have taken our young children on it. The final mile or so up to the Devil's Causeway is a good, steep hike - but well worth it for the views! If you have good hikers who have gone that distance at higher altitudes, no matter the age, they'd probably do just fine.

Recommended by Susan T, publisher of Macaroni Kid Thornton-Northglenn-E. Westminster


Devil's Head ~ Sedalia
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Devil's Head Fire Lookout Trail is recommended for experienced hikers and thrill-seekers, as it's 2.5-mile (roundtrip) trail has a 940 ft elevation gain, leaving little room to catch your breath. The view from the top of the Fire Lookout is unbeatable, but you'll have to climb 143 stairs first.

If you're up for the challenge, arrive early. Parking in the overflow lot is a whole other hike away from the trailhead.

Recommended by Sarah H, publisher of Macaroni Kid Englewood-Greenwood Village-Centennial

Enchanted Mesa ~ Boulder
DIFFICULTY: MILD TO MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NOT RECOMMENDED

Enchanted Mesa is a beautiful, yet lesser-known (and therefore less crowded), hike near the popular Chautauqua trailheads. It is a wide, smooth surface trail that starts with a moderate elevation gain and then levels out to a fairly easy hike. You will walk through a pine forest while you take in beautiful views of the Flatirons, as well as the city of Boulder.

You can choose to hike up and back or connect to other trails to make it a loop. Dogs are allowed on leash on Enchanted Mesa. A good jogging stroller could handle the terrain of this trail, just be prepared to push it uphill at a decent incline! Note: if you choose to make it a loop, dogs are prohibited on connecting trails, and the terrain is not suitable for strollers.

Recommended by Julia R, publisher of Macaroni Kid Broomfield-Erie-Lafayette-Louisville

Hanging Lake ~ Glenwood Canyon
DIFFICULTY: DIFFICULT • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Hanging Lake is a must-do hike if you live in Colorado. Hanging Lake is right outside of Glenwood Springs. You will want to arrive early for this hike as it gets very busy later in the day. The hike can be challenging at times if you are not an avid hiker, but the view of the amazing crystal blue lake from the top makes it worth the challenge. It is 3 miles to the peak and permits are required to hike this trail.

Recommended by Kristin K, publisher of Macaroni Kid Aurora


Horsetooth Trail ~ Fort Collins
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE• STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Horsetooth Trail starts with a steady climb into a Ponderosa forest then morphs into rock outcrops and winds to Horsetooth Reservoir. It offers a great view of Long’s Peak and Fort Collins.

Horsetooth connects to Blue Sky Trail and Lory State Park trails too, though depending on the age of your kids you may wish to stick to Horsetooth for younger kids and expand to include the others for older kids. If you are searching for wildlife you will mostly find mule deer.

Recommended by Melissa S, publisher of Macaroni Kid Fort Collins and Macaroni Kid Loveland


Lichen Loop Trail ~ Boulder
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Lichen Loop Trail is a quick and easy 1.3-mile loop that is part of the Heil Valley Ranch open space in Boulder County. It has a slight incline for the first half and then loops around for an easy downhill hike for the second half. You will walk through some shaded forested areas while taking in views of the mountains and wildflowers.

Recommended by Julia R, publisher of Macaroni Kid Broomfield-Erie-Lafayette-Louisville


Lookout Mountain ~ Golden
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

Forest Loop Trail is a relatively flat half-mile loop that winds in and out of a quiet, forested area. Add on the 0.7 mile Meadow Loop Trail for a change of scenery. Round out your visit with a stop at the Lookout Moutain Nature Center & Preserve. We recommend this hike for the youngest of explorers, as it's short and sweet with a nice place to relax (and picnic!) afterward.

Recommended by Sarah H, publisher of Macaroni Kid Englewood-Greenwood Village-Centennial


O'Fallon Park ~ Morrison
DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

There is something for everyone at O'Fallon Park! Pick one of five trails to take a hike, enjoy a picnic lunch, and cool off in the creek. The views are gorgeous, the temps are cooler, and the options are endless!

Recommended by Christen R, publisher of Macaroni Kid Lakewood-Littleton


Pawnee Buttes ~ Grover
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Pawnee Buttes is a prairie hike. You will experience a ton of wildlife from birds to snakes. With that in mind make sure you wear the right protective wear for sun and snakes. The buttes are amazing and the views from the summit are spectacular. This moderate trail is about 1.5 miles to the first butte.

There are great opportunities to see the hawks and falcons early in the day or later in the afternoon when it cools, but be sure not to disturb them. The trail to the nests is closed from March 1 to June 30th to protect the raptors. No climbing, no fires and no bikes on the trail.

Recommended by Melissa S, publisher of Macaroni Kid Fort Collins and Macaroni Kid Loveland


Platte River Trail ~ Sheridan
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

Paved trails and the scenic views make the Platte River Trail a family favorite! There is plenty to see and do along the way, and the length of your hike is up to you! 

Recommended by Christen R, publisher of Macaroni Kid Lakewood-Littleton


Rock Park ~ Castle Rock
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NO

Whether or not you live in Castle Rock, you've probably noticed "The Rock," especially during the holiday season when the giant star is lit up each night. Less than a mile and a half from the parking lot to the top, the Castle Rock Trail is a wide dirt path that is easy enough even for young hikers.

Along the way, keep an eye out for the peregrine falcons that have built their nest here. Older children, teens, and adults can even make their way to the very top and touch the Star.

Recommended by Kyrie C, publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree


Roxborough State Park ~ Littleton
DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MODERATE • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

Like Red Rocks and Garden of the Gods, Roxborough State Park is filled with spectacular red-rock formations, which are as beautiful in the winter as in the summer. The park is also home to an abundance of birds, fox, and mule deer.

The Willow Creek Loop, a very short trail that starts at the Visitor Center, offers a beautiful view of several red-rock formations, including the Dakota Hogback and the Lyons Formation. The Fountain Valley Trail is a 2.3-mile loop that winds through both prairie and mountain habitats.

Before you start your hike, you may want to stop by the Visitor Center and watch their DVD “Footprints of Past and Present” for information about the plant and wildlife you might see at the park.

Recommended by Kyrie C, publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree


South Valley Park ~ Littleton
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: NOT RECOMMENDED

South Valley Park is the perfect place to take your family, whether they are beginning hikers and trail bikers, or they have some experience. The park boasts more level terrain and STUNNING views.

Recommended by Christen R, publisher of Macaroni Kid Lakewood-Littleton


Waterton Canyon ~ Littleton
DIFFICULTY: EASY • STROLLER FRIENDLY: YES

The Waterton Canyon hike takes you along the South Platte River. There is a nice wide trail for walking, running, or biking. The river has trout and makes for a great place to fly fish. If you are lucky while you are out on your hike you will get to see some Big Horn sheep that come right down on the trail. The hike can be up to 12 miles.

Recommended by Kristin K, publisher of Macaroni Kid Aurora



Want to find even more wonderful hikes?
Use the FREE Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app: cpw.state.co.us/CTS


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