While these places are absolutely breathtaking in the winter, with great beauty comes a responsibility to be prepared. Winter comes with its own set of challenges like avalanches, frigid weather, and slippery slopes, so make sure to look ahead at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for updates on any avalanche forecasts, grab your micro spikes and snowshoes, and bundle up so you can fully appreciate these beautiful winter hikes throughout Colorado.
1. Mayflower Gulch
Mayflower Gulch is an hour and a half away from Denver and is a remote backcountry trail that’s covered in snow in the winter. The best time to visit is March through September, and as of now in mid January, there should be plenty of people on micro spikes, snowshoe and cross country skiing. The hike, labeled as moderately strenuous and, on average, takes 3 and a half hours, includes a snowy forest that opens up to a wide open field where snowshoe bunnies, beautiful trees, snowy peaks, and old miners cabins can be explored.
Where: CO-91, Frisco, CO 80443, USA
2. Sky Pond
If you’re looking for an adventure that involves a frozen alpine lake, then look no further than Sky Pond, which is only 2 hours outside of Denver. One of the most popular winter hikes but definitely one that we recommend taking precautions before tackling due to the slippery ice and a slope that could potentially give way under you if you’re not careful. You’ll pass through the frozen over Alberta Falls and Loch Vale, a frozen lake, and once you pass this area, you’ll need to be prepared to be a lot more careful as you traverse an icy waterfall. Don’t forget your micro spikes and possibly snowshoes, and don’t forget to check CAIC for possible avalanche forecasts. You’ll encounter Lake of Glass, which will be frozen over in the winter, but keep on going and you’ll finally reach the final frontier, Sky Pond. a frozen lake with a backdrop of snow-covered trees and capped mountains.
3. Great Sand Dunes
The national park with the highest sand dunes in the nation is less than 4 hours from the city. The sand dunes look otherworldy in normal months, but in winter, the extra layer of snow makes everything look like you’ve transported to another planet. January is the coldest month of the year while March is the snowiest. For the warmest weather as well as sunniest days, head over in February. In January, snow falls about once a week but doesn’t last longer than a few days, so keep track online if you’re wanting to head over at a time when there’s snow.
4. Saint Mary’s Glacier
One of the last remaining glaciers in the state, Saint Mary’s Glacier is a well-traversed hike that’s easy to moderately challenging and takes about an 1 and 46 minutes to hike on average. This trail includes a beautiful outdoor alpine lake and glacier, with some amazing panoramic views from the top.
5. Strawberry Park Hot Springs Trail
Maybe one of the most amazing winter hikes that’ll take you through snow-covered trails, a lush forest, and finally, a streaming natural hot springs. Although it’s definitely possible to visit these hot springs via tram or car, if you want an adventure and feel like the springs are a reward, why not consider a winter hike to the springs? The trail is, unfortunately closed during the harsher winter months to protect the wildlife but come back during April for an end of winter hike.
6. Emerald Lake
An easy trail that’s quite popular for hikers and snowshoers, Emerald Lake is a 5.1 km out-and-back trail near Estes Park. Since Rocky Mountains National Park is a popular destination all year long, don’t worry about heading over there in the winter time. This trail will pass by lush forest trees, 2 alpine likes, and better yet you’ll be surrounded by the mountains along the way. Timed Entry Permits are not currently required at RMNP because it’s off season, which is another benefit of visiting in the winter time. Plus, you have a chance of seeing wild life like elk. As long as you come prepared with plenty of food, water, clothing, and equipment, you’ll be set.