Take a Hike: Books, Maps and Websites for Picking the Perfect Trail

If you're into hiking, it's hard to beat living in Denver. Some of the best trails in the nation are within an hour's drive of the city. Whether you like casual strolls or scaling fourteeners, Denver Public Library can connect you with great resources to help you find the perfect trail.

Books

We have a wide range of guidebooks, covering hundreds of different trails around the state. Some deal with the state as a whole, while others focus on one region, such as the Front Range or the Denver area. Others are written for hikers with particular interests: kid-friendly hikes, Fourteeners, easy day hikes, dog-friendly hikes, waterfall hikes, and many more. There are also books that focus on particular National Parks. Whatever kind of hiking you want to do, we probably have a book about it. Want to go pack camping with your llama? We've got that too.

Maps

Did you know you can check out trail maps from the library? We have National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps covering hiking trails all over the state. These are nice, waterproof maps with National Forests, National Parks, and other government lands clearly labeled.

If you want an even more detailed view of the area you'll be hiking in, you can't beat the 7.5 minute topographic maps published by the US Geological Survey. You can view hard copies of these in our Western History Collection at the Central Library, but these days the most up-to-date maps are published electronically, and available to download free online. The easiest way to find them is to go to the National Map Viewer. In the menu on the left, click "US Topo Availability." Now zoom in to the area you're interested in, and click there to get a link for downloading the map. The map will be a PDF file that lets you click "Layers" on the left to show or hide different features on the map.

Websites

Various government entities maintain trails in Colorado, from federal government areas like Rocky Mountain National Park to city-owned lands like Denver Mountain Parks. Most of these entities have very informative webpages, often with trail maps. Below are the some government sites that are most useful for Denver residents. Another excellent site is DayHikesNearDenver.com, which lets you choose hikes by difficulty, distance, scenery, and so on.

Federal Sites

National Park Service: Colorado

National Forest Service: Colorado Hiking Information Map. A nice interactive map of national forests, national parks, and other federal lands.

Bureau of Land Management: Hiking and Backpacking in Colorado

US Geological Survey: National Map Viewer. Discussed above. Find topographic maps and much more with this interactive map. You can also access these topo maps through the USGS Map Locator and Downloader.

Wilderness.net. An interactive map of Colorado wilderness areas, from the University of Montana.

State of Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Trails

Nearby Counties: Parks, Trails, and Open Spaces

Adams County Parks and Trails

Arapahoe County Open Spaces

Boulder County Parks and Trails

Douglas County Trails

Jefferson County Open Space Parks and Trails

Nearby Cities

Denver Parks and Recreation (includes information about mountain parks such as Red Rocks, in addition to city parks and trails)

Arvada Parks and Open Space Map

Aurora Trail and Bike Maps

Boulder Trails and Recreation

Colorado Springs Park Trails and Open Space Maps

Fort Collins Natural Areas: Fort Collins maintains extensive natural areas well outside of the city limits.

Golden Trails and Open Space

Lakewood Parks and Trails

South Suburban Parks and Recreation

Westminster Trails and Open Spaces

A Final Resource: Other Hikers!

Of course, one of the best ways to find a great trail is word of mouth. So...what's your favorite hike in Colorado? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Ross on May 20, 2015

Comments

Anonymous on May 20, 2015

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all of this information on maps and trail guides is terrific, thank you!

Leigh Ann on May 21, 2015

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What a fantastic blog, Ross--thank you! One of my favorite CO trails (there are many!) is the Colorado Trail along the Collegiate Peaks (namely Mt Princeton). Truly, there are so many beautiful spots in Colorado--you've highlighted many of the most scenic & lovely ones in this post, Ross. Now, if only it clears up enough so we can take in the majestic views :-)

Comment

Thanks, Leigh Ann! I think the Collegiate Peaks some of the most incredible in Colorado. I went hiking on Mt. Princeton (Chalk Cliffs) a few months ago.

Frank on May 21, 2015

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Nice post Ross!! A hike I've done a couple times recently is the hike up to the Estes Cone. I'll be looking for another hike to do around Estes Park / Allenspark in a couple weeks so will check these out!

Ross on May 22, 2015

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Thanks!

Anonymous on May 27, 2015

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I used to go up to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=80803) every summer to hike and/or camp - it is just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, so you get a taste of the same beautiful scenery, but you can bring along your dog!

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