Best Colorado summer day hikes


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Christian Arndt, Life and Culture Director

With the start of summer upon us, it is only natural that we feel inclined to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Whether that is rafting, walking the family dog or playing sports outside, you are bound to find something to do out in the beautiful summer nature. However, hiking tends to remain at the forefront of Colorado hobbies.


If you’re looking to have a good time out in nature, here is an assortment of hikes to try out this summer that are fun, beautiful and span numerous levels of difficulty.

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake is a phenomenal and rewarding hike near Glenwood Canyon.

The hike itself can prove challenging, considering the first stretch of the hike is rocky and uphill. However, it does eventually even out at times, allowing each hiker to catch their breath and hydrate.

What you come upon is a stunning lake that has an almost unreal reflection in its crystal blue water. A large waterfall accompanies Hanging Lake and consistently pours water into it. Also if you journey a little farther up from Hanging Lake, you will be met with another large and beautiful waterfall.

The hike is fantastic, but make sure you set a reservation before you depart to hike this beautiful trail.

Level: Moderate/Moderately Strenuous.

Quandary Peak

If you’re looking for more of a challenge on your hikes, take on Quandary Peak located in Breckenridge. 

Quandary Peak is known as a 14er at 14,271 vertical feet above sea level and proves to be a very challenging hike. Plenty of terrain obstacles are present, including loose rocks, adaptive terrain and plenty of wildlife on the trails.

Make sure to bring plenty of water, food and snacks, and also set out early in the morning to avoid hiking down in the night. The hike up is tough, but the view at the top and the cool breeze make it a very rewarding hike. 


Completing a 14er is no easy task, but if you are an avid hiker, take the challenge head-on and knock it off your hiking bucket list.

Level: Strenuous

Emerald Lake

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Emerald Lake is a fantastic low-energy hike.

This trail is very accommodating for anyone wanting to see a beautiful lake with nice tall mountains and fresh mountain air. 

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, there are plenty more hikes around the national park, especially Dream Lake, Sky Pond and Chasm Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park is home to plenty of neat hikes that surely anyone can enjoy.

Level: Easy/Moderate

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a free open space that allows any visitors to come and enjoy the scenery.

Located in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is free for any visitor to come and explore the natural beauties of the red rock that surrounds the park. 

The space is home to plenty of hikes, all of which vary in difficulty. However, each hike is a treat to complete, with panoramic views of different angles of the park and its interesting natural rock formations. 

Given its varying terrain, Garden of the Gods serves as a great day trip for anyone looking to get outdoors and explore.

Level: Varies

Bonus Hike: Lily Pad Lake

Lily Pad Lake is located at the top of Wildernest on Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne. 

This hike is a little under the radar considering how little it is discussed, but it remains a local favorite over the span of many years.

The hike itself is not demanding and can easily be hiked with pets, children or other family members. Once you reach the end of the hike, you are greeted with two lakes. One of them is a larger lake with some lily pads adorning the edges and some scattered throughout the middle portions, while the other lake is a bit smaller but entirely covered by lily pads.

This hike is a perfect location for a picnic, doing homework or just relaxing and enjoying nature.

Level: Easy

Reach Christian Arndt at or on Twitter @csucollegian.