Colorado may be known for its world-class skiing but even if you don’t ski, you can still enjoy the beauty of a Colorado winter via a pair of snowshoes. We’ve rounded up our favorite Front Range snowshoe trails, all conveniently located for day trips from Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, so you can get out there and enjoy the best season in Colorado!
The Brainard Lake area is one of the most visited spots in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and for good reason. This stunning area offers up miles of trails to explore and quintessential Colorado views. Although this spot is usually bustling with activity in the summer, you’ll find it much quieter in the winter season, which in our opinion makes it the best time to visit. Snowshoe from the winter parking lot to Brainard Lake, or continue onward to one of the higher alpine lakes in the area. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful scenery and plentiful wildlife.
Golden Gate State Park
Perfect for a day trip from Denver, this accessible state park offers a multitude of trails to choose from, allowing you the option to go for as long (or as short) as you’d like. For a shorter hike, take the Snowshoe Hare trail for a mellow 3-mile loop. For those looking for more of a challenge, try the 7.9 mile Mountain Lion Trail Loop to Windy Peak and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning viewpoint of the Front Range and distant Rockies.
Staunton State Park
Staunton is another easily accessible state park with spectacular snowshoeing near Denver. This park is nestled in the foothills off of Highway 287 and features plentiful wildlife and great views of the surrounding front range hills. Check out the 6.5 mile Old Mill-Mason Creek Loop for great views of the area as well as some historic buildings. This is also a spectacular area for cross country skiing after a Front Range upslope snowstorm.
Located just south of Nederland, the East Portal area in the James Peak Wilderness is just as spectacular in the winter as it is in the summer. The trailhead offers several treks to choose from, with the easiest and most popular being the Crater Lakes trail. The trail winds through towering evergreen forests and past sweeping viewpoints until it reaches two stunning high alpine lakes surrounded by towering peaks. This trek is 6 miles roundtrip and on the strenuous side, so be prepared for a bit of a workout.
Lory State Park
Enjoy the best of the Horsetooth area west of Fort Collins in Lory State Park. Lory offers over 26 miles of trails to choose from, with plenty of options for both the novice and intermediate snowshoer. For first-timers, check out the East Valley-West Valley loop. The loop is around 5.5 miles long and features minimal elevation gain and wide-open views. For those looking for more of a challenge, check out the trails surrounding Arthur’s Rock on the west side of the Park. When you’re done frolicking in the snow for the day, warm up at one of the many craft breweries in Fort Collins.
As always, when venturing into the backcountry it’s extremely important to be mindful of avalanche risk and to be properly educated and prepared when traveling through avalanche terrain. If you need avalanche education, sign up for one of our world-class AIARE courses. We offer AVY 1, AVY 2, Avy Rescue, and more. For more info, click here.
Winter navigation skills are also important, so check out our previous blog post on the topic!