Winter Hikes in the Rockies
Front Range trails that stand up to bad weather.
True hiking fans don’t let a recent rain or pounding snowstorm keep them off the trails. Along the Front Range, savvy Coloradans head for weatherproof pathways, like the three easy (and scenic) routes we list here. All paved, these trails stay hikeable through the worst that winter has to offer.
Perkins Central Garden Trail
Hike the Garden of the Gods in December, and you’ll almost feel lonely. In the early morning, lacy patches of ice stretch like spiderwebs across small crevices, and after a fresh snowfall, white flecks accent the curves and clefts in the red sandstone. You may hear the screech of a hawk or the tinkling of carabiners dangling from the packs of the few climbers on rock faces nearby.
ON THE TRAIL: From the main parking area (about a mile from the visitor center), take the Perkins Central Garden Trail past Signature Rock. Hike south to skirt the massive Cathedral Spires and Three Graces, and pass lone Pulpit Rock and views of snow-mantled Pikes Peak. Return the way you came.
DISTANCE: 1.5 miles round-trip (longer with optional detours).
DETAILS: Visitor center is open 9-5 daily (1805 N. 30th St.; www.gardenofgods.com or 719/219-0111).
Cherry Creek Trail
Running between Cherry Creek State Park and Confluence Park, Denver’s 13-mile Cherry Creek Trail is a corridor of nature in the city, attracting beavers and gray foxes. An easy 2-mile segment starting in the Cherry Creek neighborhood goes along one of the trail’s prettiest sections.
ON THE TRAIL: Pick up the path in Karamiel Park. Head southeast, past quiet neighborhoods and along the creek bed, 2 miles to Garland Park. Return the way you came.
DISTANCE: 4 miles round-trip.
DETAILS: Park at E. Steele St. and E. Bayaud Ave. (303/458-4787).
Platte River Trail to Plum Creek Trail
In winter, Chatfield Reservoir takes on the vibe of a wild mountain lake, as a silvery curtain of ice pulls across the water. Hardy hikers have lots of room to roam within 5,600-acre Chatfield State Park. The Platte River Trail edges the reservoir’s south shore.
ON THE TRAIL: From the Platte River trailhead, hike north along the concrete multiuse trail and follow signs to the Heron Rookery. Pause here to scan for bald eagles and osprey, then continue on around the reservoir’s edge to the Plum Creek parking lot. Return the way you came.
DISTANCE: 7 miles round-trip.
DETAILS: $10 per vehicle (11500 N. Roxborough Park Rd., Littleton; www.parks.state.co.us or 303/791-7275)
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