10 Dog-Friendly Hikes to Get You Moving


By Mary Anderson

Hiking season is officially in full swing. Who could possibly be more excited about that than you? Your dog, of course. Avoid the uncertainty of where to bring your furry best friend. Here are 10 of the best dog-friendly hikes along the Front Range. 

Please keep in mind that although some parks and trails allow your dog to run free, there are others that require leashes. Be prepared. Bring a leash and look out for signs. If you have not taken your dog hiking before, it takes some training to be prepared for such a long trek. Start with long walks, then short hikes to build your pup’s endurance and strengthen their toe pads. Always take extra water for both you and your dog.

Plymouth Mountain Trail

Pike National Forest
This 6-mile, moderately rated hike will take you up 1,459 feet in elevation. Beginning near Sedalia, you’ll loop around views of Denver, Chatfield Reservoir, Ken Caryl Valley and Deer Creek Canyon. The trail is partially shaded and lined with wildflowers. The trailhead also features maintained facilities and running water.

Beaver Brook and Chavez Trail Loop

Genesee Park
Located near Golden, Beaver Brook and Chavez Trail Loop is a 5.2-mile moderately rated hike. With a 1,151 feet elevation gain, you’ll loop around, crossing a stream several times. There aren’t many peak views, but your dog will thank you for walking through the shade of pine trees.

Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop

Apex Open Space Park
Near Golden Heights, Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop is a 5.5-mile, moderately rated hike with a 1,243 feet elevation gain. Once you hit the Enchanted Forest, you’ll be surrounded by tall pines that offer tons of shade and will truly give you the feeling of being enchanted. The trail is especially popular with mountain bikers, so avoid peak times or be prepared to share the trail. 

The Craigs Trail

Pike National Forest
The Craigs are a unique rock formation near Divide, featuring erosion patterned granite. Venturing out and back to these remarkable formations requires a 4.8-mile, moderately rated hike with 820 feet in elevation gain. You’ll traverse through forests of aspens and the beginning of Four Mile Creek to reach incredible views of Rampart Range, Ute Pass and Catamount Creeks drainage. 

Timber Trail

Charles A Lory State Park
Timber Trail begins at the group picnic area and travels roughly 4 miles and 1,587 feet in elevation to the ridge behind Arthurs Rock. Located near Bellvue, the trail features meadows, mountain shrub, pine and fir. It is an out and back route totaling 8.1 miles round trip.

Horsetooth Falls Loop Trail

Horsetooth Mountain Park
One of the easiest hikes on this list, Horsetooth Falls Loop Trail is a 2.9-mile moderately rated loop trail near Fort Collins. You’ll traverse 580 feet in elevation to reach a gushing waterfall. There’s a full-service bathroom, water and puppy poop bags available in the trailhead parking lot.

Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail

Roosevelt National Forest
Located near Nederland, Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail is a 7.1-mile, moderately rated hike with a 1,942 feet elevation gain. Traveling out and back, you’ll see wildflowers, some small waterfalls and beautiful views of the Continental Divide and Lake Dorothy. The gravel road to the trailhead is bumpy so be cautious if you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Ceran Saint Vrain Trail

Roosevelt National Forest
The easiest hike on this list, Ceran Saint Vrain Trail, is located near Jamestown. Hiking 3.5 miles out and back, you’ll gain only 318 feet in elevation. There’s plenty of shade and access to water throughout the trek. If you’re having trouble finding the trailhead, Google maps isn’t the best at finding this place. Go right at the fork and look for parking lot signs.

Royal Arch Trail

Boulder Open Space
This 3.2-mile loop with a 1,433-foot elevation gain is rated as hard. Starting on Chautauqua Trail in Boulder, you’ll cross a meadow, pine forest and flagstone staircase before reaching the Royal Arch. Some of the steep parts can be tricky for beginner hiking dogs, so save this one for when your pup is more experienced. 

Mount Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail

Mount Galbraith Park
Just 20 minutes west of Denver, near Golden, Mount Galbraith Loop is a 4-mile, moderately rated loop. You’ll gain 928 feet in elevation to reach views of Golden and Denver in addition to some cool rock formations. Be cautious, although the trail is great for dogs, there have been rattlesnake sightings.

- Mary Anderson's graphic designs and writing can be found at Mary Anderson Graphic Design.