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Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

I first hiked this trail as a tourist in the summer of 2010, and now I finally explored it again as a resident, this time in the winter.

This 3.8 mile trail is is on the easy side of moderate with about 900 feet of elevation gain up to about 9100 feet in elevation. Worth checking out the park’s other trails and the yurts.

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Bluffs Regional Park Trail – Lone Tree, Colorado

Bluffs Regional Park Trail near Lone Tree, Colorado

Bluffs Regional Park Trail near Lone Tree, Colorado

Location: Near town of Lone Tree, south of Denver

Trail Length: About 3 miles, loop trail

Elevation Gain: About 250 feet

Link: Bluffs Regional Park Trail on AllTrails.com

Notable Features: An easy trail without much elevation gain. Great for kids and beginning hikers. It’s not exactly a wilderness as suburban developments edge right up to the park, but it offers nice views of the outer suburbs and the mountains to the west.

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Niedrach Trail – Barr Lake State Park

Niedrach Trail at Barr Lake State Park

Niedrach Trail at Barr Lake State Park

The Niedrach Trail heads south from the nature center at Barr Lake State Park near Brighton, Colorado. The trail goes around the whole lake – 8.8 miles in total and is essentially flat the entire way. I went to the two-mile marker, but in that span I saw a herd of 20 deer, two bald eagles and scores of ducks and geese.

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Dakota Ridge Trail – Morrison, Colorado

View of Red Rocks Amphitheatre from the Dakota Ridge Trail near Morrison, Colorado

View of Red Rocks Amphitheatre from the Dakota Ridge Trail near Morrison, Colorado

Location: Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison

Trail Length: Variable, depending on how deep into North Dinosaur Park you go

Elevation Gain: About 550 feet

Notable Features: The big draw is Dinosaur Ridge, a park with trails and free self-guided or paid guided tours detailing the pre-historic beasts that roamed the area and have left their mark. There’s also the Dakota Ridge Trail that splits off the road to the north that leads into North Dinosaur Park. It gives great views of Morrison, the surrounding foothills, and Red Rocks Amphitheater.

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Ladora Lake/Lake Mary Loop – Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado

Lake Mary at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Lake Mary at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Trail Length: About 2.8 miles, double loop trail around Ladora Lake and Lake Mary

Elevation Gain: Minimal elevation change

Notable Features: An easy and pleasant trail that loops around two lakes in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Be on the lookout for birds, frogs and turtles around the lakes, and there are buffalo and deer roaming the surrounding prairie.

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Cherry Creek Spillway Trail – Aurora, Colorado

Cherry Creek Spillway Trail in Aurora

Cherry Creek Spillway Trail in Aurora

Location: Between Iliff Avenue and East Hampton Avenue in Aurora

Trail Length: About 4.5 miles, in and back trail along a bike/walking path

Elevation Gain: Less than 200 feet

Notable Features: An easy, flat trail that connects up with an entire trail network throughout the Denver area. You’re guaranteed to see prairie dogs, and I once saw a coyote.Just keep an eye out for bikers whizzing down the trail. Despite the name, this section does not have views of Cherry Creek… the name comes from the area being a spillway in case the creek floods.

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Trading Post Trail – Red Rocks, Colorado

Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park in Morrison, Colorado

Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park in Morrison, Colorado

Location: At Red Rocks Park near Morrison, Colorado

Trail Length: About 1.5 miles, loop trail

Elevation Gain: About 350 feet

Link: Red Rocks Trading Post Trail on AllTrails.com

Notable Features: An easy trail that starts at one of the most iconic music venues in the world at Red Rocks. The trail starts at the Trading Post and loops around and massive set of the parks namesake red rocks. Check the Red Rocks site for restrictions on event days in the summer.

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Horseshoe Trail – Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Colorado

Horseshoe Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Horseshoe Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Location: West of Golden

Trail Length: About 3.7 miles, in and out trail

Elevation Gain: About 900 feet

Notable Features: A moderate trail that doesn’t seem as challenging as the numbers make it sound. It’s a pleasant and relaxing walk through forest and meadows with views of nearby Tremont Mountain.

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