With summer peeking around the corner, our minds have turned to outdoor activities like wildflower hikes in Colorado. In the highest reaches of Colorado, summer is short. Which means wildflowers have only a brief period to show off. Peak wildflower viewing is typically between June and July when Colorado’s high country explodes with color. Here are 7 of the most beautiful wildflower hikes in Colorado that should be on your summer bucket list.
Ice Lake & Island Lake
Where: San Juan Mountains near Silverton
Length: 8 miles out and back
If you want to see beautiful blooms and are up for a challenge, you will want to check out the double basins of Ice Lake and Island Lake. The longer hike will take you through aspen groves, beautiful meadows, a waterfall, stunning cliffs, and glaciers eroded in the rocks. The wildflower-filled slope is a must-see for adventure seekers. There is absolutely nothing boring about this hike and the view alone will make the trek worth it.
Arthur’s Rock Trail
Where: Lory State Park – Fort Collins
Length: 1.7 miles
While Lory State Park offers an abundance of hikes with flowers in bloom, this is one of the best wildflower hikes in Lory State Park. Although it’s a moderately trafficked trail, hikers will be surrounded by more than five dozen varieties of wildflowers. The trail weaves in and out of open meadows and forested areas, while a confetti of blooms peek in and out of incredible rock formations. At the top of this trail, hikers will be treated to a panoramic view of Fort Collins and the Front Range.
Willow Creek Trail
Where: Roxborough State Park
Length: 1.4 mile-loop
Roxborough Park is like entering into another world, a perfect escape just south of Denver. This gentle hike is a great introduction to the park – the red rock and wildlife combine to create a wonderful sense of beauty. In the spring, this birdwatcher’s paradise is awash with wildflowers. Remember to watch out for poison ivy on this trail!
Devil’s Thumb Lake
Length: 13.3 miles out and back
This hike begins at the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland. A breathtaking alpine escalation offers hikers spectacular views of the Continental Divide. While the full out and back hike is fairly long, you don’t need to hike all the way to the lake to experience a wonderful wildflower show. In late spring and early summer, hiking a stretch of this trail will ensure you see beautiful bluebells and wild purple columbines.
Where: Crested Butte
Length: 7.5 miles out and back
Crested Butte is known as the wildflower capital of Colorado, and for good reason. The hillsides and meadows surrounding this mountain town put on an amazing show with mule’s ear, lupines, and fireweed. This trail connects Washington Gulch to Gothic and allows you to take it all in. Climbing up over 11,300 feet, it also offers jaw-dropping views of the Elk Mountain to the north.
Where: Arapaho National Forest – Idaho Springs
Length: 6.4 miles out and back
The Herman Gulch Trail offers natural beauty with lush, green meadows sitting below snow-capped mountains. Yellow and red flowers bloom all over the valley as you hike beside views of the Continental Divide and climb to the shimmering green Herman Lake. This trail is very popular thanks to its impressive display of up to 100 different species of wildflowers alongside spectacular mountain views.
Where: Estes Park
Length: 3.3 miles out and back
Gem Lake is one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s most popular trails. It starts out on Devil’s Gulch Road and climbs steeply across a mountain side to Gem Lake. This small, but gorgeous lake sits between granite cliffs in a fir and spruce forest at 8,860 feet. The trail and Gem Lake offer stunning views south toward 14,259-foot Longs Peak, the park’s resident fourteener. Hike it in summer for wildflower displays, including the rare Telesonix jamesii, a beautiful pink flower that grows in cracks above the lake.