top of page
  • merklea

Best Lake Hikes by Denver

While hiking, I usually like to end up on top of a summit, a lake, or waterfall. I've written about some of these hikes before, but I wanted to put all of the lake hikes together for you. All of these hikes are 1-2 hours away from Denver and great for a day hike. During summer, take a dip in them and winter try not to freeze your ass off and enjoy the sunshine. Have fun out there and be safe!

Lake Isabelle, 6.6 miles (10.6 miles in winter), moderate

You need a permit to park at Brainard Lake Recreation area during the summer months. Go to for a timed entry ticket. The road is closed now for the season, so it add 4 miles, making it over 10 miles. It is so worth it though. The jagged mountains as the backdrop make this place truly special. During the summer, the water is a beautiful color. Bring your favorite snacks for a picnic, and stop by Knotted Root Brewing on your way home.

Chicago Lakes, 11.3 miles, difficult

I like this trail because you start at Echo Lake, and continue to see lakes the entire way. It is pretty difficult during the winter, so sometimes I'll just hike to the reservoir (about half way) if there's a lot of snow. There are great views along the whole way, and it's a beautiful drive there!

Loch Lomond, 4.6 miles, moderate

The first part of the trail is a 4 wheel drive road, so you'll need a high clearance vehicle unless you want to hike a little more. The lake and waterfall at the top is gorgeous, and it's not too far from Denver. If you go during the fall, the drive is perfect.

Herman Gulch, 6.4 miles, difficult

This is one of my favorite hikes. During the summer, there's a lot of wildflowers. Be careful in the winter because there is avalanche danger. It has amazing views the whole way, and right off I-70 before the tunnel. Bring your doggo and sit by the lake for awhile! You can stop by Idaho Springs on your way home for a bite!

Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Lake Haiyaha, 6 miles, moderate

There are so many great hikes in RMNP, but I would have to say these are some of my favorite. You can easily hit up five hikes in this out and back. Dream Lake and Lake Haiyaha are my favorite. Dream Lake is one of the most iconic lakes in Colorado, and is fun to hike in all seasons. Lake Haiyaya has an awesome lime green or bright turquoise color from the recent rockslide. You need a timed entry ticket during the busier months, along with a day or annual pass. I strongly recommend getting an Annual National Parks Pass. It pays for itself!

Lily Lake and Lake Dillon, 3.3 miles, moderate

This is an easier hike in Frisco that is also right off of I-70. It's beautiful during fall, and the lake at the end is a great spot for a picnic or dip. There are many trails off of it that are fun too. Lake Dillon is across the highway, and the Perimeter Trail around is worth checking out. You can swim there too during the summer months.

Crater Lake and Forest Lakes, 7.4 and 6.4 miles, moderate

These lakes start out at the same trailhead, from the South Boulder Creek Trail (right next to the Moffat Tunnel). There's tons of parking here, especially compared to many of the hiking trails around Nederland. I love Lost Lake, but parking can be a nightmare. There is also Heart Lake from this trailhead, which is over 10 miles. All our great, and I would recommend them all. Crater Lakes is my personal favorite. Check out the cool waterfall there too! You can even backpack and camp by the lakes. You just need a permit. I highly recommend these hikes in the winter too. Just make sure you bring the proper equipment and attire!

Abyss and Helms Lake, 16.7 miles, difficult

Ok, only do this hike if you're crazy. I've mentioned in this another post, but it is long. I would only do this hike if you're mentally prepared and have the time. It's worth mentioning though because I loved it, and even swam in the 2nd lake. It was freezing but felt great after hiking over 8 miles. I love this area. You can also backpack in this area!

DM me on Instagram if you have any questions!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page