Doing business in Denver or Boulder automatically makes us want to squeeze in some mountain-related activity, but most of us don't have the extra time to drive three hours to a ski hill or the patience for the rigmarole of renting a road bike. Not to worry: Right outside of these cities is Colorado's Front Range, and its best treasures are its hiking trails, usually traversable nine months out of the year, some even year-round. The scenery is, of course, spectacular, but the ass-kicking workouts are unsurpassed – and all you need are some treaded shoes and a CamelBak. Here are five of the area's best – and not overly populated – trails that you can knock out in a few hours. Launch Gallery >>
The trails in this open-space preserve just south of Golden, which abuts Denver metro, are well known to mountain bikers but severely underhiked. The 5.5-mile exterior loop makes for an awesome hike that you can bust out in about 90 minutes if you hustle. You'll likely encounter many bikers at the beginning and the end of the trail, especially if you go in the evening, but the path leaves plenty of room for you to pass them as they grind up the inclines and for them to whiz by you on the downhills. Start on the Apex Trail (ignore the cheesy Western-themed family fun park off to your left; it'll disappear from sight about a quarter-mile in), which offers a mellow incline through a narrow valley, and then take a sharp right up Sluice Box Trail and zigzag up the hillside – this is the toughest part of the trek. At the top, follow the Grubstake Loop, which tours through deep forest and then pops back out on the front side of the hill for view of the city. Continue straight onto Pick N' Sledge for an easy descent back to the Apex Trail. This final stretch is easy to run if you want an extra challenge.
More Information: For trail and park details, visit jeffco.us.
Credit: Jefferson County Open Space