Hiking is incredibly popular all over Colorado, especially in the greater Denver area, and it isn’t hard to understand why. The state is practically bursting with beautiful vistas, and what’s more, governments and other local organizations have made a serious effort to preserve the natural landscape and make trails available to people of all skill levels. Where else can you see towering mountains, breathtaking red rock formations, wildlife and wildflowers, forests, water, and more all on one trail?
We’ve compiled an eclectic list of the 10 best trails in the city, including trails with water views, mountain views, wildlife, and more. ALLTRAILS has a phone app with a similar list for tracking your progress through adventures. Many of the trails are open year-round (great for snowshoers!) and most, except ROXBOROUGH, welcome dogs. Most also offer other activities on the actual trails or in nearby parks. Always be sure to look them up before you hike to download a map and plan your trip. Luckily, at Roxborough, a dogs world is conveniently located near the entrance to the park.
Note: In the Chatfield and Ken Caryl area, west Littleton neighborhoods, and if running/biking from home. You may prefer a short commute and these are all 5-10 minute drive. Parks from West to East: South Valley Park, Deer Creek Canyon Park, Hildebrand Ranch Park, Roxborough State Park, and Chatfield State Park.
Let’s dive into these 10 Littleton trails. Find your favorite or hike them all!
Incredible, popular, and breathtaking Littleton, Colorado Trails
- Coyote Song Trail
Located just five minutes from south Littleton, Coyote Song Trail is many people’s favorite in the area. It is a three-mile loop that is abundantly popular, partially because it is appropriate for all skill levels. Families with young children especially love it, as do trail runners. In addition to the main loop, there are also multiple paths that divert and wind through the wilderness that are all well maintained, and often worth the views. It offers stunning lake views and beautiful rock formations. Expect the trail to be somewhat crowded, and to see dogs and young children. The earlier you can go, the more likely you are to beat the crowds.
- Carpenter Peak Trail
This trail is located in the Roxborough State Park and is an almost 6.5-mile out and back trail that is relatively heavily trafficked. It is popular with experienced hikers visiting the region because of the beautiful views that it offers. You can see mountains, rock formations, forests, and valleys, a combination that is uniquely Colorado in nature. It is best for hiking in the late spring, summer, and early fall, as in winter it is snowy and icy, and in early spring the ground can be very muddy. Be aware that it costs money to enter State Parks on foot or by vehicle, whether hiking or not, and ,unfortunately, it is NOT dog-friendly, even on a leash.
- Eaglewatch Lake Loop
True to its name, the Eaglewatch Lake Loop is wonderful for spotting birds, particularly eagles. It is connected to the South Platte Trail featured farther down. This is another short trail, only 1.8 miles, and is easy to traverse. That said, Mother Nature has packed a lot in here. It has plenty of spots to take a rest, and is paved entirely on one side. If you have any aging family with urgent progressive conditional needs, and want to limit their social isolation, this is the spot for you and them. On Eaglewatch, you’ll see not only a variety of birds, but also the lakes, mountains, other wildlife, and wildflowers. On its back side, you will find a shelter with in-depth info about all of the natural communities that thrive here. (Pictured below) With food and shelter abundant here, in this open woodland, you will see many activities of life. Not simply natural geological formations and foliage like the majority of other trails listed here.
- Fountain Valley Loop Trail
Like Carpenter Peak, this loop trail is also located in the Roxborough State Park (remember the fee!) and is dog friendly. It is much shorter, at 2.3 miles, but you will still see some beautiful rock formations. During the summer and especially late spring, there are fields of gorgeous wildflowers that surround the trail, so be sure to bring your camera along. Be prepared for lots of other hikers though, especially if you go on a weekend.
- South Rim and Willow Creek Loop Trail
Another loop trail located in the Roxborough State Park, this one is short like Fountain Valley at 2.7 miles, but it is much more difficult. Nevertheless, if you take your time, most ages and skill levels can handle it. There are views of rock formations, including the red rocks, as well as valleys, forests, wildflowers, and mountains in the distance. It is well worth the extra effort that it takes while hiking.
- Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Short Loop
Like the two listed above with similar names, this loop is also located in Deer Creek Canyon. It is 2.8 miles through heavy forest, and it is rated as a moderate trail. You can expect it to be busy during peak season, even though it is slightly more difficult than others nearby.
- Waterton Canyon Short Hike
This might be called a short hike, but compared to others on this list, it isn’t. It’s a 6.3-mile out and back trail, but it is rated as easy, so that makes the time go by faster. It is good for people of all ages and levels, but dogs are not allowed on sections of the trail. There is a rugged spot further in, for mountain bikers testing their locally built and world renown YETI CYCLES of Golden, CO. Trail runners especially like it for the length, rather than other difficult elements. Located in the Chatfield State Park area, there are views of streams as well as wildlife, including deer, bighorn sheep, and more.
- Lyons Overlook Trail
Also located in the Roxborough State Park, Lyons Overlook Trail is only a 1.4-mile loop, so it’s great for families with young children or for spending time outside on a busy day. It’s also a great trail for seeing wildflowers and birdwatching, so be sure to bring your camera and prepare to take it slow. You will also see beautiful rock formations and perhaps some wildlife.
- Meadowlark Plymouth Creek and Plymouth Mountain Trail Loop
This is a six-mile loop hiking trail located in Deer Creek Canyon. It is moderate in difficulty, but is nonetheless very popular, especially because of the opportunity to see wildlife in the vicinity. Dogs are allowed as well, but if you hope to see wildlife you may want to leave them home. While hiking, you can opt for a cut-off path (adds about a half-mile to the hike) for an amazing, panoramic view of the entire area, including the Denver skyline. Be prepared for icy conditions and possible snow well into spring.
- South Platte River Trail
This is the longest trail that makes the list, at 11.5 miles long. It is point-to-point, something to prepare for before heading out. Despite its length and moderate difficulty level, it is still fairly heavily trafficked, so be prepared to meet others along its path. Expect river views (as is to be expected) as well as several interesting landmarks along the way. Dogs are welcome. Furthermore, if you enjoy river tubing try starting at the mountains is Deckers, a little over an hour out from Denver. From here it flows down the Rockies into Littleton where the river runs north beside Santa Fe Drive. This trail is a great place to park a secondary vehicle, and exit. To have a multitude of LUNCH/DINNER OPTIONS. You may also travel all the way to downtown Denver and exit at Confluence Park. This is where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet. You can find many events nearby like: the South Platte River Fest, the Denver Trolley, the Downtown Aquarium, and Elitch Gardens. All very close nearby.
- Epic Bonus Trail
A German immigrant named Frank Hildebrand came to Colorado for the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1859. He established a large cattle ranch and farm along Deer Creek southwest of Denver. This land remains in the hands of the family for more than a century, the Hildebrand ranch was condemned by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s for the construction of Chatfield Reservoir. Condemned? We will get back to this. He was alongside the first prospectors and merchants in a time before Denver. As one of the first to begin Littleton, he was sewing and reaping while Denver was just a small mining town. These settlers worked in tandem with the prospectors and merchants in the Kansas Territory’s Pikes Peak Gold Rush; Most of the property is protected now as Jefferson County Open Space. While the original ranch house and the many buildings nearby are now part of Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms. Then there’s Chatfield Reservoir. It eventually became one of the many water supply reservoirs for the city of Denver, Colorado. Back then it was condemned as flood control in response to the disastrous flood of 1965. so, go check out Hildebrandt Ranch Parks rolling views and its sophisticated hiking trails. From its Two Brands Trail traveling along with the kind grades that these Dakota, Lyons, and Niobrara hogbacks have. If you’ve got a boost of energy, and only then, go to its Black Bear Trail. It leads steeply over the hogback to Deer Creek Canyon Park. Have fun and stay safe out there!
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