The Best Trailheads for Beginners in Colorado

The Best Trailheads for Beginners in Colorado

Image via Flickr by Sergei Alfliqu

Colorado is home to the majestic Rocky Mountains, but you don’t need to be an experienced mountaineer in order to enjoy some awesome hiking with spectacular scenery along the way. The following suggestions will give you a number of great starting places for your hiking or backpacking adventures.

Blue River Trail

In Silverthorne, Dillon, Keystone, Frisco, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Vail Pass, Vail, and Glenwood Springs are all connected with a series of paved trails. Blue River Trail begins at Silverthorne Elementary School and North Pond Park, and climbs some 250 feet over 3.5 miles as it winds to the Dillon Dam. There, the trail hooks up with the Summit County Recpath and continues with trails to Dillon, Keystone, and Frisco.

Silverthorne also offers ready access to about two dozen back-country trails with varying degrees of difficulty. You’ll find numerous places to stay that will put you just a short drive from these and many other trailheads.

Sandbeach Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sandbeach Lake is believed by many to be the finest autumn trek in the Wild Basin area. It can be reached via a 4.5-mile trail that begins at the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead in the Wild Basin section of Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail traverses about 9 miles round trip and climbs 2,000 feet. Six designated campsites can be found along the trail and at the lake. Sandbeach Lake is one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s deepest lakes with a depth of approximately 50 feet.

Rogers Peak and Heart Lakes in the James Peak Wilderness

Situated high in the James Peak Wilderness, these two lakes can be reached via a 4-mile trail that begins at the East Portal Trailhead. The two trails continue about 8.75 miles round trip and climb approximately 2,200 feet. The trail begins easily to the Forest Lakes cutoff just 1.25 miles from the trailhead, then goes straight towards Rogers Pass. Keep going at the Cataract Lakes cutoff 1.85 miles past the trailhead and you will reach Rogers Peak Lake at 4.05 miles. Add another 551 feet to the trail at Rogers Pass and you can visit the continental divide, then continue on to Heart Lake. Fishing in Heart Lake can be excellent.

Crystal Lakes Near Breckenridge

The Crystal Lakes are among several well-known and scenic areas around Breckenridge that are popular for campers and backpackers. To get to Crystal Lakes, begin at the Spruce Creek Trailhead. Lower Crystal Lake can be reached on foot or by vehicle.  Then, you can hike about 2 miles farther to Upper Crystal Lake. Heavily populated with wildlife, the region offers frequent sightings of pica, marmot, ptarmigan, porcupine, Bighorn sheep, moose, elk, and mountain goats.

Silverthorne is a great jumping-off point for these and countless other hikes within the region, such as Lookout Mountain Nature Center, the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks Park, the Waterton Canyon Hike, and Alderfer and Three Sisters Park Hikes. So, grab that walking stick and head for the hills!


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