Alpine lakes, snowy mountain peaks, and vast expanses of untouched land speckle the landscape of Colorado, offering endless opportunities for both humans and canines alike to get outdoors.
If you have an active dog, then you know how important it is to ensure they get enough daily exercise.
One great way to stretch your legs and get your dog(s) in motion is to go for a hike through one of the most breathtaking regions of the country — you surely won’t regret getting outside once you experience the mental benefits of hiking in Colorado!
Whether you and your pup are looking for a strenuous hike up a mountain or a casual stroll down by a bubbling brook, the state of Colorado has it all.
I found 4 of the most popular locations along the foothills and low mountains as well as a couple state parks to round out the list of 14 dog friendly hiking trails in Colorado you can enjoy with your four-legged friend.
Named one of the best dog parks in the country, Bear Creek boasts a vast expanse of partially-fenced land where your dog can roam off-leash for hours on end.
Also, an agility course with 11 different obstacles helps mentally stimulate your pup while exercising! Remember to bring a waste bag and only allow your dog off-leash if they respond to voice commands.
And don’t forget to have fun mingling with fellow dog owners who are sure to frequent this nationally-acclaimed dog park!
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Seven Falls is the perfect place to bring your pup for an engaging hike complimented by a spectacular view.
Meander your way through a series of waterfalls cascading down a 1,400ft box canyon surrounded by steep walls sure to dwarf Great Danes and Chihuahuas alike.
Ascend 224 steps up the waterfall and you’ll find an extensive system of trails, one of which leads to Inspiration Point and offers a breathtaking view of Colorado Springs and the great plains beyond.
The Garden of the Gods is a must-see destination in Colorado, as it represents the epitome of the red rocks of the west. Dogs are allowed on a six-foot leash throughout most of the park.
The hikes are both dog and people-friendly, ranging from easy to advanced in difficulty, with most classified as moderate.
A Loop Trail winds through the majority of the impressive red rock formations and your dog(s) are sure to have a blast clambering around on the massive boulders surrounding the loop.
Plus, if the hiking makes you hungry, you can always check out the dog-friendly Cafe at the Garden at the end of the day.
If you live in Boulder, you know the options for hiking (and most other outdoor activities) are nearly limitless.
The Royal Arch Trail is just one of many fantastic hikes that you can take with your adventurous canine companion if you’re looking for something a bit more burly to tucker you both out.
The proximity of this trail to the Flatirons means it is not only a strenuous hike (with an elevation gain of 1,358ft), but it also offers a panoramic view of one of the classic vistas in Colorado.
The loop itself is 3.4 miles and winds through pine forests and wildflower meadows to spectacular views of the Flatirons.
Plan for a 4 hour trip and bring plenty of water!
If you and your pup are looking to cool off near Boulder, make sure to check out Coot Lake at the Boulder Reservoir.
Dogs are allowed at the North Shore year-round and can be off-leash as long as they respond to voice commands.
The clean swimming water and gorgeous views of mountain vistas in the background make Coot Lake a favorite swimming hole for dogs and owners alike.
Waste bags are provided on the trails surrounding the Reservoir - don’t forget to grab some before you go.
For a more moderate stroll through the woods of the Boulder County Open Space, the 2.7 mile out-and-back Green Mountain West Trail is a great option.
You will gain a little over 600 feet in elevation as you and your pup hike through shaded pine forests and wildflower meadows on this quaint trail.
Keep an eye out for sweeping views of snow peaks to the West and a sprawling cityscape of Boulder and Denver to the East.
Dogs are allowed off-leash as long as they behave!
Northern Colorado is replete with massive mountain ranges and canyons galore, making it one of the best places to get outside and stretch your legs or go for an adventure with your favorite four-legged friend!
For a place in the North that’s open year-round and good for winter hiking, you can go to the Fort Collins Poudre River Canyon.
The Hewlett Gulch Trail is easily accessible to people/pets of all shapes and sizes and can either be a very easy out-and-back walk or a more intense 8.3 mile hike around the loop.
Most of the trail runs along Gordon Creek, making it a great place for dogs who love the water — beware that there may be a few creek crossings, so wear waterproof boots if you’ve got ‘em.
For another moderate and accessible romp through the forest with your pup in northern Colorado, check out the beautiful Arapaho Bend Natural Area, which is located right off of 1-25.
Despite its proximity to the highway, you will feel immersed in nature as soon as you park your car and start hiking.
There is an easy 2-mile loop around the pond where you and your pooch are sure to enjoy watching the local wildlife (over 80 species of birds call the pond home).
If you’re up for an overnight adventure, this natural area also offers dog-friendly camping year-round.
Unfortunately, most National Parks in the U.S. do not allow dogs in the backcountry, meaning you’ll have to leave Fido behind on some of the most alluring hikes available in the west.
However, if you’re looking for a place similar to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) where you and your dog can explore together, I would highly recommend traveling to Pingree Park in the Poudre River Canyon near Fort Collins.
There you and your pup can complete a strenuous 13 mile alpine hike to Emmaline Lake, gaining 2,135 feet in elevation as you go. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with stellar views just like you would see in RMNP.
Skip the fees and the crowds and take your dog for a day hike and alpine swim you won’t soon forget!
The Devil’s Backbone looks exactly as you might imagine - a spiky spine of brick red rock formations weaving through a vast 2,198 acre space.
The Open Space in Loveland where Devil’s Backbone is located consists of 12 miles of intertwining trails, so your options for where to hike are nearly endless.
Dogs must be kept on a leash in all areas of the Open Space per Larimer County Parks & Recreation regulations.
If you and your pup choose to check out the Devil’s Backbone, make sure to find the “Keyhole,” a unique arch within the backbone where you will have access to spectacular views and a shady spot for a rest.
Lair O’ the Bear Park is a great place with amazing scenery for out-of-towners looking for a place to stretch their legs and walk their dogs while enjoying a picnic lunch.
A crystalline creek runs alongside the Bear Creek Trail, so your dog can have a chance to take a dip or splash in the rocky pools.
There is a wide variety of paths to choose from in the Park to keep both you and your dog entertained and active for as long as you choose to stay!
Looking for a single day hike near Evergreen with expansive views of Red Rock Canyon?
Check out the Red Rocks Trail, a charming loop that spans across two different parks (Denver Mountain Park and Matthews / Winters Park) and gains 1,400 feet in elevation over 6 miles.
There is no shade at all on this hike, so make sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your pup, as well as a sunhat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the heat.
Also, hike early in the morning or in the evening to avoid too much sun exposure, especially if you or your dog are sensitive to the heat.
And check out the cool cave carved into the sandstone that makes for an impressive overlook of the meadows spanning just east of the Red Rocks.
The Eldorado Canyon Trail may be one of the best difficult hikes for owners to do with their dogs in any state park in Colorado.
With miles upon miles of canyonland and wildflower meadows stretching across the Front Range of the state, there’s a reason that Eldorado Canyon is one of the biggest hiking and climbing meccas in the U.S.
The Canyon Trail is a seven mile round-trip hike (3.5 miles one-way, unpaved), making it a great trek for strong, athletic dogs and humans looking to cut their teeth on some of Colorado’s more intense backcountry regions.
You will gain a little over 1,000 feet in elevation as you work your way through this oasis of towering canyon walls, secluded red rock caves, and gurgling mountain streams.
Dogs must be on a six-foot leash at all times, but are welcome in all areas of the state park as long as you clean up their waste.
For a slightly more relaxed and idyllic hike by the water in one of Colorado’s most beautiful state parks, you can explore the Connection Trail at Pearl Lake State Park.
The terrain is relatively easy to traverse, making it a perfect trail for young puppies or older dogs who don’t have the spunk or endurance required for more intense hikes.
The lake itself shines like a pearl and is surrounded on all sides by massive mountain peaks and lush pine forests where you can wander for hours.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also camp right next to the lake and extend your trip by a couple of days! Just make sure to make reservations and keep your pup on a six-foot leash while you’re out and about.
Hiking with your dog can be one of the most rewarding forms of exercise and it doubles as a great bonding activity for you and your favorite canine companion!
If you own a pup and live in Colorado, or are planning a visit through the glorious mountain landscape, then you have no excuse but to get out and explore the fantastic scenery the state has to offer.
Whether you’re in the mood for a challenging alpine trek, a casual stroll through fresh piney woods, or a bath for your best friend in a bubbling brook, Colorado has what you’re looking for, no matter where you live.
Next time you’re sitting on the couch in a cuddle puddle with your dog, wondering what to do with the beautiful afternoon — grab this handy guide, select a hike near you that sounds appealing and GET OUTSIDE!
Over to you...
I know Colorado is a big state and we didn't cover EVERY single dog friendly hiking trail so let me know which ones you love in the comments!
Ashley's a Florida girl that didn't see snow until her twenty's. Andrew initiated her with a January trip to Breckenridge and the rest is history! A flatlander most of her life, Ashley now craves challenging trails but isn't a fan of log crossings over rapidily flowing mountain streams. Click here to learn more about Ashley's outdoorsy background...
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