Colorado Scenic Hikes for a Relaxing Winter Adventure
I know there are many who stare out at the snow only to turn back to the fireplace and cuddle up on the sofa. However, there is a whole other group who wait with eagerness for winter to fall upon them so they can get outside. Of course, there are lists a mile long dedicated to those people, and it never fails that the state of Colorado is at the top of every ‘best’ list there is when speaking about winter activities. Everything from the best ski resorts to the highest slopes to tackle, to some of the most beautiful scenic views the U.S. has to offer—Colorado covers it all.
Not to mention, with the pandemic and people having to stay inside a great deal of time in order to feel safe, it feels almost impossible to simply get outdoors and take a fantastic winter hike that you won’t forget. Colorado, however, offers amazing trails to choose from and some easy ones for the winter that still allow you to be adventurous and have a ball at the same time. Below are three that should be on your list regarding ‘must hike’ trails this winter.
In the Arapaho National Forest, the hike to St. Mary’s Glacier is a stunning sight to see. This is perfect for those who do not wish to sweat in order to gain an awesome high-alpine experience. This path rates as one of the most beautiful hikes to be found near Denver. At 1.9-miles, this hike allows you to be surrounded by the beauty of the forest. It’s also a true winter wonderland, seeing that there is snow, the glacier, mountain range views, and so much more all year long. Visitors have reported being blown away by the hike. In addition, if you happen to have microspikes (i.e., crampons) and an ice axe in your gear, you can even hike a little way up the glacier and slide down, like the ultimate ice ride. Elevation being 807 feet, it’s rated as ‘easy,’ and the year-round activities include hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding on the glacier, plus snowshoeing in the winter.
Another stunning sight to set your eyes upon is the Canyon Rim Trail to Window Rock, located in Colorado National Monument. By embarking on this lovely hike extending 1.8 miles, rising to an elevation of 246 feet, you get a look at some of the most famous and beautiful sites imaginable. From the Praying Hands to Independence Monument and the other statuesque monoliths in Monument Canyon, the Canyon Rim Trail has them all. Stand atop Wedding Canyon, make your way northward through Utah juniper and Pinyon pines that are typical to the area, and even admire those sandstone towers that rival the world’s best. The track crosses the rim between Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Book Cliff View, and for those who wish for a little more time in the Great Outdoors, you can also hike another quarter mile to Window Rock. But no matter what distance you decide to walk, this is a relaxing trek with excellent views.
When it comes to a day of easy winter hiking in Colorado, the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop in Aspen is also one to remember. If you rise before the sun, you can take in the tremendous ‘artistic’ view as the sun rises to join you over the most iconic mountain formation in the state. Being a ‘scenic’ loop is definitely the right description for this one. Hiking the Maroon Bells offers a reflective lake and two giant snow-striped mountaintops—Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, respectively—that serve as anchors for this awe-inspiring panorama with colors that change with the seasons. Located just 10 miles west of Aspen in a glacial valley, the 14,000-foot peaks epitomize the beauty that everyone knows belongs to the Rocky Mountains. The trail provides access to a slew of scenes that should be caught by every camera in the White River National Forest. At a distance of 1.9 miles, rising 160 feet, this trail is a legendary wonder.
Make sure, however, to pack the right gear! Gloves, a long-sleeve jersey, long underwear, softshell or hardshell/waterproof pants, a fleece pullover, a hardshell jacket, warm socks, insulated boots, and high gaiters are definitely needed. And remember, hikers…make sure when you pack that gear not to forget the camera. Colorado is a state that was literally made for being in photographs, and the sights you’ll see on your hikes are unlike any you’ve seen before.