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Mountain Photos of the best Hikes near Golden, Colorado

9 Best Hikes Near Golden, Colorado: Ultimate Trail Guide (By a Local)

Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Golden, Colorado, serves as a gateway to some of the most picturesque and rewarding hiking trails in the state. Located just a short drive from Denver, Golden offers a unique blend of accessible day trips and challenging mountain adventures, making it a favorite among both locals and visitors looking to explore Colorado’s natural beauty.

In this article, I’m introducing everything you need to know to go hiking near Golden, including nine of the best hikes near Golden, mountain safety tips, and Leave No Trace practices. Let’s dig in!

Table of Contents

Overview of Hiking in Golden

Golden’s geographic diversity, from rolling foothills to rugged mountain peaks, creates a myriad of hiking opportunities that are a feast for the senses. The area’s semi-arid climate ensures many sunny days, extending the hiking season and inviting you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the trails. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a heart-pumping climb, Golden’s trails are your gateway to scenic escapes into nature.

9 Best Hikes Near Golden, Colorado

After living in Golden for two years, I discovered many amazing trails and backcountry spots. Here are seven of my favorite hiking opportunities in this special mountain town, from family-friendly strolls to more strenuous scrambles and climbs.

1. Lichen Peak Trail -North Table Mountain

  • Mileage: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 525 feet
  • Distance From Golden: 2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Lichen Peak Trail is located on North Table Mountain, just 2 miles away from Golden, Colorado. This hike is moderate in difficulty, spanning a distance of 1.6 miles with an elevation gain of 525 feet. The trail offers stunning views from the tallest point on North Table Mountain, an ancient lava flow from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. All of these make it a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. Read More

2. Apex Park Enchanted Forest Loop

  • Mileage: 3.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Distance From Golden: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Apex Park Enchanted Forest Loop is a moderate hike spanning 3.7 miles with an elevation gain of 800 feet. Just 8 miles from Golden, the trail offers a unique blend of forested paths and open meadows, making it a magical outdoor adventure. The trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. Its namesake, the Enchanted Forest, is a highlight of the trail, offering a dense, cool, and quiet escape from the city. Read More

NOTE: Jefferson County Open Space has a designated use schedule for this trail. Even Calendar Dates: Bikes only, no hikers or equestrians. Odd Calendar Dates: Hikers and equestrians only. No bikes.

3. Lookout Mountain via Chimney Gulch Trail

  • Mileage: 6.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1760 feet
  • Distance From Golden: Starts in Golden
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Lookout Mountain via Chimney Gulch Trail is a moderately difficult hike that starts right in Golden, Colorado. It spans a total of 6.9 miles and features an elevation gain of 1,760 feet. This trail is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers and stunning views over Golden from Lookout Mountain. The trail is accessible year-round and offers a variety of activities. It is particularly popular among those interested in nature trips and bird watching. Read More

4. South Table Mountain Olivine Trail Loop

  • Mileage: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 370 feet
  • Distance From Golden: Starts in Golden
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The South Table Mountain Olivine Trail Loop is a moderate hike that starts directly in Golden, Colorado. It covers a distance of 1.5 miles and has an elevation gain of 370 feet. This trail winds through a variety of landscapes, including open meadows and rocky outcrops, with spectacular views of the surrounding area. It’s named after the greenish mineral, olivine, found in the area’s basaltic rocks. This trail is especially beautiful in spring when wildflowers are in bloom. It’s a great choice for locals and visitors looking for a short, yet rewarding hike. Read More

5. Mount Galbraith Park Trail Loop

  • Mileage: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 928 feet
  • Distance From Golden: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Galbraith Park Trail Loop is a moderate hike that covers a distance of 4.2 miles, with an elevation gain of 928 feet. The trailhead is just a short 3-mile drive from Golden, Colorado. This loop trail takes you around the summit of Mount Galbraith, offering panoramic views of Golden, Denver, and the surrounding mountains. The trail winds through a beautiful mix of meadows, forests, and rocky outcrops. Be prepared for a steep and rocky path in some sections. The trail is best used from April until October. Read More

6. Panorama Point at Lair o’ the Bear Park

  • Mileage: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 640 feet
  • Distance From Golden: 15 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Just 15 miles from Golden, Panorama Point at Lair o’ the Bear Park offers an easy hike that spans 3.1 miles with an elevation gain of 640 feet. The trail takes you through beautiful forested areas and open fields to the viewpoint at Panorama Point, offering stunning views of the Continental Divide to the west. This is one of the best hikes near Golden for families and beginners looking for a less strenuous but still rewarding hiking experience that isn’t far from Golden. Read More

7. Clear Creek Loop Trail

  • Mileage: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 80 feet
  • Distance From Golden: Starts in Golden
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Clear Creek Loop Trail is a beginner-friendly hike located right in Golden, Colorado. This easy trail spans a distance of 2.8 miles with a minimal elevation gain of 80 feet, making it an ideal choice for families and those looking for a leisurely walk. The trail offers a scenic loop alongside Clear Creek and is widely used for walking, running, and nature trips. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful waterfront views and the diverse wildlife that frequent the area. Read More

8. Windy Peak via Mountain Lion Loop Trail

  • Mileage: 7.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1970 feet
  • Distance From Golden: 13 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard

Windy Peak via Mountain Lion Loop Trail is a challenging hike that covers a distance of 7.8 miles with an elevation gain of 1970 feet. The trailhead is just a 13-mile drive from Golden, Colorado. This trail takes you through a variety of terrains to the summit of Windy Peak, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. It is the toughest of the best hikes near Golden and is best suited for experienced hikers year-round. Read More

9. Mount Zion Trail

  • Mileage: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 425 feet
  • Distance From Golden: Starts in Golden
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This moderate hike starts right in Golden near the summit of Lookout Mountain and covers a distance of 1.3 miles with an elevation gain of 425 feet. The trail offers a mix of forested paths and rocky outcrops, culminating in a stunning panoramic view from the summit of Mount Zion. This trail is ideal for those seeking a shorter hike that doesn’t take a lot of time without compromising on the scenic beauty of the route. Read More

What to Bring on Your Hike

When setting out for a hike near Golden, it’s essential to pack the basics: water, snacks, and layers to adjust to Colorado’s quickly changing weather conditions. Always bring a map or GPS device, as cell service can be unreliable in mountainous areas. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are crucial for protection against the intense sun.

Here is a hiking checklist to make sure you bring everything you need:

  1. Backpack – Lightweight and comfortable.
  2. Water – At least 2 liters per person.
  3. Snacks – High-energy foods like nuts, jerky, and granola bars.
  4. Map and Compass – For navigation, even if you carry a GPS.
  5. First Aid Kit – Basic supplies plus personal medications.
  6. Multi-tool – Useful for quick fixes and emergencies.
  7. Headlamp – Plus extra batteries.
  8. Hiking Boots – Supportive and broken-in.
  9. Moisture-Wicking Clothing – Including an extra layer for warmth.
  10. Waterproof Jacket – Breathable and lightweight.
  11. Hat and Sunglasses – For sun protection.
  12. Sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher.
  13. Insect Repellent – Especially in warm seasons.
  14. Trekking Poles – To help with challenging terrain.
  15. Emergency Whistle – For signaling in case of distress.


Check out our comprehensive packing list for hiking to get ready for your adventure.

Colorado Hiking 14ers

Hiking Safety Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips to stay safe while visiting these hikes near Golden, Colorado.

The Rockies are known for their sudden weather shifts, so check local weather forecasts before departing and prepare for unexpected conditions.

Always let someone know your plans and expected return time.

Stay aware of your surroundings, especially wildlife, as encounters with deer, elk, and even bears are not uncommon in these areas.

For more safety tips and best practices, check out our complete mountain safety guide.

Be a Tree Ninja and Leave No Trace

Golden’s trails are beautiful and fragile. To help maintain their condition, adhere to Leave No Trace principles: stay on designated trails, pack out all trash, and avoid disturbing wildlife.

Special attention should be given to avoiding muddy trails in spring and early summer, as usage during these times can lead to significant trail damage.

Lastly, keep your dog leashed at all times to avoid impacting wildlife and ensure you can clean up after them with a plastic bag.

Learn more about protecting these amazing hikes near Golden with our Leave No Trace Tips.

Getting the Most Out of Your Hike

Here are some local tips to beat the crowds and have the best experience possible.

The best times to visit these trails are during the spring and fall when temperatures are moderate, and crowds are thinner. Early morning hikes not only offer solitude but also increase your chances of spotting wildlife. For those interested in photography, golden hours provide dramatic lighting against the stunning backdrop of the Rockies.

After you finish hiking, why not celebrate your summit success with a cold beer at New Terrain Brewery or Golden Mills Tap Hall? Both offer a variety of local brews and have pet-friendly outdoor spaces!

Best Hikes Near Golden, Colorado

Best Hikes Near Golden, CO: Now You Know!

Golden, Colorado, offers a remarkable array of trails that promise adventure and beauty to hikers of all levels. By following the guidelines mentioned above and respecting the natural environment, you can enjoy some of the best hiking experiences Colorado has to offer.

Did I forget one of your favorite hiking trails near Golden? Mention it below in a comment to share with our community. Safe travels on the trails and happy hiking!

FAQ: Hikes Near Golden, CO

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about hikes near Golden, Colorado. You can also leave a comment with a question and we will get back to you with more information as soon as possible.

Q: Is there hiking in Golden Colorado?

A: Yes, there is a wide variety of hiking trails in and around Golden, Colorado, ranging from easy walks to challenging mountain climbs. These trails offer a unique blend of beautiful landscapes, including rolling foothills, rugged mountain peaks, forested paths, open meadows, and more.

A: The Clear Creek Loop Trail in Golden, Colorado spans a distance of approximately 2.8 miles. It’s an easy, beginner-friendly hike that offers beautiful waterfront views and opportunities to spot diverse wildlife.

A: Yes, Golden is nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and it’s surrounded by several mountain peaks. These include the North Table Mountain, South Table Mountain, Mount Zion, and Lookout Mountain, all of which have popular hiking trails.

A: The Panorama Point at Lair o’ the Bear Park trail is a great choice for families. It’s an easy hike that spans 3.1 miles and offers stunning views of the Continental Divide. The Clear Creek Loop Trail is another good option, with a shorter distance of 2.8 miles and minimal elevation gain.

A: Absolutely! Golden, Colorado, is not only a gateway to some of the most picturesque hiking trails in the state, but it also has a rich history, a lively downtown area with great dining options, and a variety of local breweries. It’s an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone looking to explore Colorado’s natural beauty.

A: The big “M” on the mountain in Golden, Colorado, is a local landmark that represents the Colorado School of Mines. This public research university is renowned for its strong focus on engineering and applied science disciplines. The “M” is made from rocks and is lit up at night, making it visible from many parts of town. It stands as a symbol of the city’s long-standing ties to mining and earth sciences.

A: The hike to Lookout Mountain via the Chimney Gulch Trail is a moderately challenging hike that covers approximately 6.9 miles round trip. The trail begins in Golden and leads you up to Lookout Mountain, offering stunning views over the city and surrounding area. The trail features an elevation gain of 1,760 feet and is best suited to hikers with some experience. It’s worth noting that the trail is accessible year-round and is especially popular for nature trips and bird watching.

A: Clear Creek, a tributary of the South Platte River, runs through the heart of Golden, Colorado. This creek is not only an integral part of the city’s landscape but also offers a myriad of recreational opportunities. The Clear Creek Trail, for instance, runs alongside the creek and is perfect for leisurely walks, biking, and wildlife observation. During the summer, the creek is also popular for water activities such as kayaking and tubing.

A: Yes, you can indeed drive up Lookout Mountain. There is a well-maintained road that leads up to the mountain, offering spectacular views as you ascend. At the top, you’ll find parking areas and viewpoints where you can stop to take in the panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape. The summit is also home to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, a popular tourist attraction. However, please note that the road can be steep and winding in places, so caution is advised, especially during winter months.

Additional Resources

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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