There are some things that people do not know about Colorado. Colorado is a beautiful place that experiences blue skies almost every time. It's also a place with fluctuating weather and with amazingly calm weather even when it's snowy.
Here, you'll find most of the best skiing around the globe because of the weather conditions that change every time. You can experience coldness this minute and hotness the next. This is why skiing takes place throughout the year in Colorado.
However, this sudden change in weather conditions can be dangerous most of the time, but it doesn't stop you from going on winter hikes in Colorado. Winter hikes are lovely and beautiful. The best winter hikes in Colorado are mostly well-preserved from wind, and this makes the air very cold. Best hikes are usually exciting and only take a maximum of 180 minutes.
Hiking in winter is pretty easy in Colorado and occurs in all weather conditions. That is, there's enough sun to make everything enjoyable by melting the snow and making it moderately steeply and icy.
If you want to go on a winter hiking, ensure you go to the rangers and let them know that you're going out there. They're in the best position to let you know the best time you should be out there, and they'll also know you're out there and find you if anything happen. Also, you can get a free trail map from them. Below are list of the best winter hikes in Colorado.
The Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) allows you to get to one of the most popular hikes, Alberta falls. Alberta falls about 12.8 kilometers from the parking area.
Hiking in Alberta Falls
Hiking in this location is excellent for loved ones because of the varieties of options available to explore. It's also effortless to navigate through. The area is a bit far, so, you're advised to pack your meal with you if you want to enjoy the location.
Boy Scout Trail
The Boy Scout trail is also great if you're going with your loved ones, most notably during winter. Winter hikes in this lovely location will enable you to see fantastic places such as Indian peaks, continental divide, and the Front Range.
Boy Scout trail is a beautiful place you can take to get to Mays Point and get a bird's-eye view of the whole Front Range and Continental Divide. You'll also get to see the Mount Sanitas, Colorado University, and the Canyon.
In this location, you're sure of getting value for your money. You can take your kids to hike in a fantastic hike location, Sensory Trail, or have a pleasant view of the area. You can also engage in outdoor activities with your kids.
Mesa Trail or Woods Quarry
To arrive at the Mesa trail, you approach the bluebell Road through the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage, relatively less than a mile and a straight path to the Mesa Trail. Following the backcountry trail is far more interesting than passing the Bluebell road.
Although, the bluebell road is a faster route to the mountain with little or no ice on its path. At the junction between the woods and Quarry, climb the Mesa Trail for a little distance. A homestead residence popularly called the Roosa Cabin comes into view. Be sure to tread that path.
Another sharp turn at the Mesa Trail junction with Enchanted Mesa extends a bit more than that of Roosa Cabin, however not so sloppy.
Despite its siting in the ever bubbling Chautauqua Park, this area in the mountain is actually not popular, an untapped gem. Climatic conditions as the excessive summer heats make Woods Quarry better for visits in cooler seasons. The weather often may affect the Mesa trail therefore anybody embarking on it should be ready.
Woods Quarry is characterised by a simple staircase slightly leaning upwards. To those who don't know the terrain so well, sidewalks should be taken slowly.
Note: A huge tree bearing a mark can be found on your way, at the back of the tree to your left is the quarry and this tree must be passed to get to your finish point. Sandstones used in the 1800s in the construction of significant structures as the red University of Colorado and Boulder’s sidewalks can be seen here.
In our world today, we can only find huge chunks of rock that are carried by people and used for such dynamic constructions as footstools, chairs etc.
To get to the trailhead, go back the same route you came, by hiking or following the Mesa Trail. You have a lot of options to take, which relatively depends on you and the climatic conditions at the time as well. The Enchanted Mesa is a fulfilling trip.
Feeling too cold? It is recommended you take a brief stop by the popular Chautauqua Dining Hall to warm up with a nice beverage or you could visit a nice Store to relax.
NCAR Nature Trail/Connector Trail
The National Center for Atmospheric Research, located in Boulder, cannot be referred to as just a simple research facility; it is an excellent spot for winter hiking.
The NCAR has an educational museum above it for kids, teaching them science.
What makes it so cool?
The Nature trail can be anything you want, either long or short. Breakfast and lunch can be gotten at The NCAR cafeteria at affordable rates ranging from food to beverages after your hiking experience.
It also offers an exclusive opportunity to dine at a beautiful outside view in Boulder. You can also choose to dine inside if the weather is too cold outside because it also has beautiful interiors. Its interiors are decorated with art pieces by the employees of NCAR.
The NCAR nature trail is a short path starting from the Research Center and is best followed during winter season. To find out more about that particular region, ensure to search for marked signs on your trail.
The journey to the nature trail is an estimated half a mile, going through the NCAR Connector Trail to the Mesa Trail, which is about 6.9 miles in all and it’s a straight route to Mesa. The area close to NCAR in the south is under construction, therefore head north to the Mesa Trail.
Although these Connector trails and Mesa trails are notable for having higher elevations differences than any other winter hikes in Colorado, they are still achievable.
This continues to the Chautauqua Park, hike to your content. Along the way are the Skunk Canyon, about 1.3 miles crossing a creek that terminates in a meadow; Mallory Cave which is an estimated half a mile and the Woods Quarry from the south. Study the maps of the interactive Open area and Mountain Parks before setting out.
Lions Lair & Sanitas Trail
Sunshine Canyon has been noted as the most suitable parking lot, a distance of about 8 miles along Fourth Street. Following the sharp turn on the road, you approach a gate with the parking space to the right with unmarked trails.
The famous Centennial Trailhead Park is another excellent parking space which also gives you the opportunity to hike past the Sunshine Canyon a little. However, the experience is not as fun or captivating because it is often icy during winter.
People who rather prefer longer routes, doing both the Lions Lair and Sanitas Trail are advised to park at the Centennial parking.
What makes it unique?
Mount Sanitas is an amazing outdoor hike in Boulder with trails often overly stocked with hikers. It is one of the best winter hikes in Colorado. A smoother and better trail can get you top of Sanitas through the back effortlessly without delay. This is unarguably one of the best trails in Boulder, though not known.
Lions Lair in details:
The strict policy of Lions Lair which does not allow dogs or bikes pass reduces the crowd compared to that of the Sanitas trail. Being newly built as a result of the 2013 floods which hit Sanitas, it is designed to curtail floods and erosion, leaving a trail in good shape.
Lions Lair is a better option for hikers who aren't so fit because of its nature. It begins along Mount Sanitas and runs a straight course.
Wildlife such as deer, antelopes etc can be seen here because it is not always busy. On arrival at the apex, you’ll join Mt. Sanitas to see the view of a lifetime in Boulder. Take a look south to capture another captivating view of Boulder’s popular Flatirons and foothills. Another look westwards is the sight of the Front Range, even beyond.
Going back to the Centennial Park is not so difficult. You have to retrace your steps, following the same route that leads you there. You could also hike the steep Ridge Trail of Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Trail toward the parking lot.
Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Winter Hikes in Colorado
Our choice of best winter hikes in Colorado is based on the ease of access to these wonderful locations. Indeed it is true that the snow and weather can turn the journey to the trailhead experience of a lifetime, and this review has selected hikes based on how easy hikers can reach the peak point of their adventure.
These hikes have also been selected with family and beginners in mind as a majority of the hikes possess regions where one is quite safeguarded from the strong breeze. This work avoided hikes like the Flatirons Vista near Boulder because of the windy nature of the hike.