From Vail to Breckenridge, Colorado is famous for its ski slopes and surrounding towns. But what about during the off-season? In the summer and fall, these beautiful mountainsides transform into excellent hiking trails, ranging from casual hikes to extreme treks. Here are the top five best hiking trails for your Colorado vacation.

Hanging Lake: Moderate

This trail is a 2.4-mile round trip and of moderate difficulty. It features two waterfalls and the stunning Hanging Lake. The crystal-clear water and gorgeous view more than make up for the steep hike. Note that reservations are required for this trail, so plan ahead!

Even though this trail is on the shorter side, it’s still important to keep the weather in mind and dress accordingly on your hike. Even in summer, the tops of mountains can be chilly, so be sure to dress in layers.

Timberline Falls: Difficult

Rocky Mountain National Park boasts some of the most beautiful trails in Colorado. One of the most famous is Timberline Falls. This 8-mile round-trip hike features waterfalls galore, the Lake of Glass, and Sky Pond. While magnificent, this hike is not for the faint of heart. If a steep climb isn’t for you, there are other great trails to check out in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Alberta Falls is a moderate hike that goes past some of the same landscape as Timberline Falls, and it’s only a 1.6-mile round trip. Fern Falls is another great option. This trail is a 5.4-mile round trip and of moderate difficulty. This trail follows the Big Thompson River and features a view of the Windy Gulf Cascades.

Maroon Bells: Easy to Moderate

Here’s another hiking destination that offers multiple trail options. With five different trail options to choose from, you’re sure to find a hike that works for you. The Maroon Lake Trail is an easy, short hike (less than a mile!) leading to Maroon Lake. Here is a great spot for a picnic lunch while taking in the view of the peaks. Crater Lake Trail is another good option. This 3.6-mile round-trip hike is moderate in difficulty. It features views of the beautiful Maroon Bells, Crater Lake, and aspen forests. The trail can be rocky, though, so make sure your hiking boots are up to the task.

Regardless of which trail you choose, the Maroon Bells are not to be missed. The incredible views and golden aspens make this an unforgettable hiking destination.

Monarch Lake Loop: Easy

Looking for a family-friendly option? Monarch Lake Loop is a great choice. The 4-mile-long trail is a loop around the stunning lake. Besides breathtaking views of the forest and lake, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of moose and other wildlife. The trail also winds past an old steam engine; this “steam donkey” is a remnant from old logging camps. Pack a picnic lunch, and you’ll have a perfect day out that your kids will never forget.

Devil’s Head Lookout: Moderate

This 2.8-mile trail is a great option if you’re up for a climb. After hiking through an aspen grove, you’ll climb the 143 steps to the Devil’s Head fire lookout. Once you make it up the stairs, be sure to take in the view! Besides the fire lookout, the incredible stretch of mountains is visible in every direction.

Regardless of your chosen difficulty level, ace your next hiking trip with this list of the top five best hiking trails for your Colorado vacation.

Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a Certified Personal Trainer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her outdoors and performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.