Grace Houser | Clarion

With the mountains in Denver’s backyard, there are countless trails to hike just minutes from campus. Students can practically just head west and run into a hike with a view.

Fort Collins has countless trails less than an hour away. A popular destination for Fort Collins and Denver natives alike, Horsetooth Reservoir hosts many trails that allow for adventurers to explore the area. Although it is very easy to park anywhere and start hiking, there are also explicit trails laid out depending on where visitors want to go. A definite highlight would be Horsetooth Falls. This is a 2.3 mile round-trip hike that guides visitors to a waterfall and shoot off trails that allow for safe exploring. The trip is rated easy to moderate and is a fun couple hour hike. Some significant highlights are the wildflowers scattered around the trail, the 360 degree view, and of course the stunning waterfall that invites hikers to wade through shallow water to reach and pose for pictures. Parking is $6 but can be avoided by parking further away and hiking an extra two miles.

A closer option just 40 minutes from campus is located in Boulder. The Royal Arch Trail is heavily trafficked but a great hike if you are  looking for a little bit of a challenge. It is rated moderate to difficult but can be hiked by anyone willing to go slow and be careful. Keeping in mind the 3.5 mile round trip, it is important to start in daylight as it can be dangerous and easy to lose footing in the dark, especially on this trail. The main challenges are loose rocks, steep elevation gain and big steps. Some highlights of this trail are incredible views of Boulder, the famous flatirons, dogs and often times wildlife. The Flatirons are known for abrupt weather, and it can often start sprinkling or raining, so it isn’t a bad idea to bring a very light rain jacket.

For those who want to simply dip their feet in hiking, the Deer Creek Canyon Loop Trail is perfect. An easy, 2.7 mile round-trip hike, or stroll, it is friendly to all visitors despite experience. Although this trail is famous for its fall colors, it is almost as pretty during the spring season as students begin to itch for adventure. The trail offers visitors a view of the Denver skyline, Colorado trees and some smaller mountains. This choice is the go-to for a casual hike or a quick city-escape to remind Denverites of the nature that surrounds them. It is located 30 minutes southwest of campus.

Adventure enthusiasts have countless options to explore the great outdoors in Denver’s backyard. Although Pioneers are finishing out a few more weeks of classes, there is always time to take advantage of DU’s proximity to the mountains. It’s only a matter of which hike to start with.