What better way to celebrate the working people of America (and having a day off!) than by getting outside to explore the beauty in your own backyard? So take advantage of the long weekend and try a new hike this Labor Dau! It’s also one of the last opportunities you may have to enjoy the final bits of summer weather before officially shifting to the cooler, fall temperatures. To help guide your hiking day plans, we’ve put together a list of five exciting trails ranging in levels of difficulty.
The Milner Pass Trail is the perfect hike to go on alongside great company. Although the beginner trail starts off with a short, steep climb, it eventually levels-out to a tree-lined passing. As the trail progresses, you will get the chance to observe the vast open tundra to Fall River Pass on Trail Ridge Road. Also visible from this path is the Never Summer Range, Cache La Poudre River Valley and Forest Canyon. Few other park trails offer as much alpine exposure on such mild grades.
Note: Open fires are not allowed on this trail.
Address: Bear Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
Milage: 9.6 miles
More difficult in the fall-spring months due to being covered in snow and ice, Black Lake is a lake located just 3.4 miles from Laporte, in Larimer County. With truly beautiful scenery, and often no other people in sight at the top, Black Lake offers an escape from the realities of the working world. This hike also ensures a scenic route all the way to the destination, passing both Alberta Falls and Mills Lake on the way. If choosing to embark on this hiking adventure, it’s important to allow at least five hours to do so, more if you plan to take your time enjoying the sights. For potential closures or to reserve a campsite nearby, visit the Rocky Mountain National Park website.
Although typically a pretty crowded trail, Horsetooth Rock is located in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, a Larimer County park, and is the park’s tallest and most recognizable feature. According to Native American legend, Horsetooth Rock is the remains of the heart of an evil giant, slain and cut in two by Chief Maununmoku. This classic route can be either a relatively short hike, or a lengthy one depending on the pace at which you hike. While the Horsetooth Rock Trail is generally well maintained, but with rock slabs and the rugged boulder scramble leading to the summit, it can be treacherous when wet.
Address: Estes Park, CO 80517
Milage: 4.75 miles
Located along a short spur off the North Boundary Trail, West Creek Falls pours through tiered granite chutes into sizeable pools along West Creek. Never too heavily populated with hikers, West Creek Falls is the perfect destination to relax, set up the hammock and enjoy the peaceful view. After making your way to the falls, keep your eyes open for good wildlife viewing spots. Deer, elk and coyote frequent this area. This hike also offers prime fishing locations, accessible from April to November each year.
Address: 7.15 miles
Milage: 148 W Mountain Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Built in the 1930’s, Greyrock Trail has two different hiking options, one longer and one shorter. No matter which trail you choose, to reach the mountain’s summit a bit of heavy scrambling is necessary. However, it’s truly rewarding! The view from the top encompasses numerous mountaintop ponds and a breathtaking gaze across the plains to the east. A view of the snowcapped mountain range peaks can also be seen to the west. Standing on the mountain’s peak, you’ll be sure to get lost in nature’s wonder. Hiking this trail will take between four and six hours. Only 25 minutes from downtown Fort Collins, you won’t want to forget your camera on this hike, especially with all of the wildlife residing here.
Remember, hiking has many perks, aside from the amazing views, fresh air and smells of nature. A powerful cardio workout, hiking can help lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood sugar, improve balance and build strength – a perfect diversion from the monotony of everyday life for the active Coloradan. For more information on trails near you, visit the Rocky Mountain ProTrail page.