State Park Hiking Trails Near Aurora, Colorado

Hiking enthusiasts living in or visiting the Aurora, Colorado, area have a plethora of trails to choose from, including those in nearby national and state parks.

Cherry Creek State Park is a park in Aurora built around an 880-acre reservoir. The park consists of 12 miles of multi-use trails, most of which encompass easy, rolling terrain for hikers at any skill level. The Cherry Creek Trail is one of the park’s most popular, and is a paved, pet-friendly, 4.75-mile path with American with Disabilities Act-compliant access. With entry points at Cherry Creek Crossing and the Cottonwood Creek trail head, Cherry Creek Trail is part of an extensive regional trail system extending from Denver to Castlewood Canyon.

Additional trails at Cherry Creek State Park include the Butterfly Hill Trail and the Prairie Loop Nature Trail. Other notable activities at the park, meanwhile, include horseback riding, camping, and ice skating.

Plains Conservation Center is also located within Aurora city limits. The outdoor education facility and nature area has dedicated itself to educating children about the importance of Colorado’s prairies and ongoing conservation efforts. The location includes more than 1,100 acres of short-grass prairie land that offer memorable views of the Rocky Mountains.

The Plains Conservation Center nature center provides visitors with trail maps and the area’s gentle terrain allows hikers to take in all of the natural wonders, with animal sightings ranging from coyotes to pronghorn antelope. Bird watchers, meanwhile, can enjoy species such as bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. Of course, the prairie is also home to numerous prairie dogs. With this in mind, hikers should be aware that neither pets nor horseback riding are permitted at the Plains Conservation Center.

Douglas County’s Castlewood Canyon State Park offers an array of trails between half a mile and four miles in length, many of which can be connected for hikers interested in a longer day on the trails. Like Cherry Creek State Park, many of the park’s trails follow along Cherry Creek as it flows through the floor of Castlewood Canyon.

While Castlewood Canyon State Park offers a number of year-round, pet friendly trails, the East Canyon Trail is an exception. Closed from November through May, the trail is environmentally sensitive. Visitors must stay on the trail at all times and are not allowed to climb or rappel any of the rock formations.

The Royal Arch Trail is located just outside of Boulder. While the short, 3.1-mile trail is typically heavily trafficked, individuals should be aware that it is rated as a rather difficult hike. Hikers interested in the beautiful wildflowers and snowshoeing opportunities provided by the trail should be prepared for nearly 1,400 feet of elevation gain. The trail also provides stunning views of the Boulder area, though hikers will first need to complete the climb up Sentinel Pass, which accounts for much of the elevation gain.

Of course, the primary attraction of the Royal Arch Trail is the arch itself. Located at the end of the trail, Royal Arch is a large, unique rock formation surrounded by flowers and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Additional hiking locations throughout the Aurora, Colorado, region include Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Bluffs Regional Park, Piney Creek Trail, and High Line Canal Trail.

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