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North Table Mountain – Golden, Colorado

Tilting Mesa Trail on North Table Mountain

Tilting Mesa Trail on North Table Mountain

Once you get up the 3/4 mile from the parking lot to the top, all the trails up on North Table Mountain near Golden are pretty much flat. From the top, you get views of the Rockies to the west and the city of Denver to the east.

There’s a side trail to Lichen Peak, the highest point on the plateau, and there is a full loop (part of which was closed when I was there) that takes hikers back down to the starting parking lot.

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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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Chasm Falls via Old Fall River Road

Chasm Falls via Old Fall River Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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Bierstadt Lake Trail

Bierstadt Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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Dream Lake Trail

Trail to Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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Turtle Rock Loop Trail – Vedauwoo

Turtle Rock Loop Trail

Turtle Rock Loop Trail

Turtle Rock is a popular hiking and climbing spot in the Vedauwoo area of Wyoming, about 15 minutes east of Laramie on I-80. It’s a fairly easy 3.5-mile walk around the rock, with the elevation of over 8,000 feet the the March snow/mud bumping it up into the moderate range. There are a few ponds to make a dent in the woods, and it’s a scenic break from the rest of the southeastern Wyoming plains.

Check out the giant Abe Lincoln head and the Ames Brothers monument nearby as well.

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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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Dale Ball Trails North – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dale Ball Trails North near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dale Ball Trails North near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Location: Foothills east of Santa Fe

Trail Length: Lots of ways to go from short to long – my route was about 6 miles

Elevation Gain: Also varies but pretty flat unless you head into the canyon at the northern end of the trail system.

Notable Features: About 24 miles of trails are in this well-marked trail system maintained by the Santa Fe Conservation Trust. Heavily used by bikers and hikers with kids and dogs due to its convenience to town. Great views looking over Santa Fe.

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Black Canyon Trail – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Black Canyon Trail near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Black Canyon Trail near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Location: At Black Canyon Campground, just outside Hyde Memorial State Park east of Santa Fe

Trail Length: About 2.0 miles, loop trail

Elevation Gain: Just under 500 feet, but trail starts at 8,300 feet in elevation

Notable Features: A fairly easy trail made moderate if you’re not used to the high elevation with lots of pine and aspen trees. The campground closes in winter, but there is a lot near the highway where you can park then walk through the campground to get to the trailhead.

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Cheyenne Mountain Loop Trail – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Location: Cheyenne Mountain State Park, west of Colorado Springs

Trail Length: About 3.4 miles, loop trail

Elevation Gain: About 300 feet

Notable Features: Picturesque easy hike through scrub oaks, Ponderosa pines and prairie grass. Military installation NORAD is located inside Cheyenne Mountain – so give them a wave as you walk through the park below the complex.

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