Why we love it: This is choose-your-own-adventure hiking. Have the kids along? Pick the Lodgepole Loop Trail for a shady walk with minimal climbing. Want more of a challenge? Head to the top of the Old Ski Run Trail. (In the 1940s, skiers raced down the southern slope.)

When to go: In the early morning, before the picnickers arrive.

I try to hit a hiking trail every weekend that I can. Too often, though, family plans, out-of-town guests, or parties interrupt my workout schedule. On those days, I look for short hikes, near Denver, with great views. Based on that criteria, Meyer Ranch Park, a Jefferson County Open Space, is ideal.

The trails aren’t long (the four options offer less than four miles of hiking) or strenuous (you’ll gain just 632 feet on the steepest one), but the paths offer grand views of the mountains. The result? You get a quick getaway to the mountains and still make your evening plans in the city.

Getting there: From Denver: Take I-70 West and merge onto CO-470 East toward Colorado Springs. After 5.7 miles, merge onto US-285 South for 11.5 miles. Exit onto South Turkey Creek Road and follow the road under US-285. The parking lot will be immediately in front of you.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.