We’re heading into summer and in the Front Range, that means it’s a great time to revisit your exercise plan and incorporate some healthy outdoor options to keep your heart health at the front of your personal health priority list while enjoying all the beautiful scenery Colorado has to offer. Hiking is, as you would imagine, a wildly popular pastime in this state. If you haven’t been taking advantage of all the hikes our state has to offer, you’re missing out on some truly rewarding cardiovascular exercise. If you’re interested in tackling some new trails this summer but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions to put on your plans.
Clear Creek Trail
Just outside of Golden, this trail system has several options for varying skill levels. On the whole, this is a fairly easy trail to hike and offers a number of well-worn walking paths. For the more adventurous, there’s a climbing access trail that takes you to several points where you can rock climb or even free solo if that’s your thing.
A beautiful day hike near Denver, Waterton Canyon Trail offers gorgeous views without having to trek far into the Rockies. Just outside of Littleton, this trail offers shorter and longer hikes with the opportunity to see the South Platte River, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and more. It is an easy-to-moderate trail boasting 6.2 miles and features the Strontia Springs Damn if you are up for the full trek. For the particularly adventurous, you can tackle part of the Colorado Trail once you reach the end of Waterton Canyon Trail, but unless you’re an avid hiker and are planning a multi-day trip with the proper supplies, we’d recommend turning back.
If you’re looking to get a little further away from the city, Emerald Trail is a stunning hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a 3.1 heavily trafficked out and back trail that works best for moderately experienced hikers. It’s hard not to fall in love with any trail that features a mountain lake, but because of this trail’s location in RMNP, it’s particularly well maintained and preserved in a way that makes it just a little more gorgeous. If you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend going on a weekday to take in the sites with a little more privacy.
Living in Colorado, you get used to doing things at altitude, but Torrey’s Peak takes that training to another level. It’s one of the easier 14ers to tackle and can easily be done in a day, but it’s still a 14er. If you have heart problems, we recommend skipping hikes that take you to this altitude if you haven’t specifically discussed your plans with your cardiologist and they have given you the thumbs up. However, if you’re looking for a hiking challenge and your heart is in good condition, this is a great option.
Lost Man Loop
Along Independence Pass near Aspen sits Lost Man Loop, a high alpine terrain trail with views that extend to the Continental Divide, the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness, and the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. This 4.6-mile round trip, out and back trail is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 1-2k feet depending on which route you take. It offers varying levels of difficulty, but if you’re willing to stick it out, the views are phenomenal.
When you’re planning your hikes for the summer, remember to pay attention to things like starting and ending elevation, your own respiratory health, and the difficulty of each trail. Some more technical trails may not be the best bet if you’re a beginning hiker. Safety and your heart’s health is paramount, so check with a doctor before starting any new activity, especially semi-vigorous to vigorous activity such as hiking. Once you’re in the clear, get out there and enjoy all the incredible vistas Colorado has to offer!