When your family finishes a hike tired but all-in-all happy, it’s easy to keep meandering back to the same evergreen-shaded walkway each time you head for the mountains. Here’s the problem with that: You and your crew likely aren’t the only family that favors a well-maintained, close-to-home trail. Keep your go-to destinations on the schedule, but work some new scenery into the rotation. Here’s where to start:
If You Like: Lair O’ The Bear Park
Try: Panorama Point at Corwina Park
What to Expect: The name of this trek doesn’t disappoint. From the summit of the 7,390-foot Panorama Point, hikers are rewarded with views of the Front Range and Mount Evans. And here’s the best part: It doesn’t take a marathon hike to get to the top. This short 2.7-mile roundtrip trail is primed with wildflowers and only gets steep in its last half-mile. Pack a picnic lunch for the top and take in the picturesque landscape.
Getting There: From Denver, take 6th Avenue west to C-470 east. Take the Morrison Road exit and head west for seven miles to the second Corwina Park parking lot.
If You Like: Alderfer/Three Sisters Park
Try: Dedisse Park Trail
What to Expect: A bridge across Upper Bear Creek is the gateway to this short, partially shaded 1.4-mile jaunt to Dedisse Park’s high point. This toddler-doable route tops out on a flat stretch of trail perfect for a snack, boulder climbing, and cheering on the exhausted mountain bikers. If the switchbacks that lead to the top don’t drain your kids’ energy, keep walking the short stretch that leads west into Alderfer/Three Sisters Park for a new perspective on one of our all-time favorite hiking areas. Or, turn back for a less than 30-minute downhill trip to the trailhead.
Getting There: From Denver, take I-70 west to Evergreen Parkway (Exit 252). Follow the parkway (Highway 74) south to Evergreen. Turn right (west) onto Upper Bear Creek Road. You’ll arrive at Dedisse Park’s Upper Bear Creek Trailhead parking lot in about 1 mile.
If You Like: Matthews/Winters Park
Try: Swallow Trail at South Valley Park
Near: Ken Caryl
What to Expect: If you want red rocks, but want to avoid crowds at the Red Rocks, head 10 miles south of the geological icon to this tour de sandstone. From the North Trailhead, the 1.6-mile Swallow Trail out-and-back will put your little explorers close to rock outcroppings that date back thousands of years. You’ll have plenty of time to stop and look, but don’t climb on the outcroppings; this trail section is for hikers only.
Getting There: From Denver, take 6th Ave. west to C-470 east. Exit westbound on Ken Caryl Ave. Drive two miles then turn left into the South Valley Park trailhead lot.