Top 5 Dog-Friendly Winter Hikes Near Denver
WATERTON CANYON – INDIAN CREEK TRAILHEAD – LITTLETON, CO
Located just between Deckers and Salida on Hwy 67, this alternative route which also leads up to Lenny’s Rest, is both dog-friendly and scenic. While hiking along this 4.4 mile route you’ll witness some spectacular sites to take in with your dog in winter. While hiking along this route, there lies some of Colorado’s most beautiful animal habitat. Be sure to keep an eye out for bear, big-horn sheep, mountain lions, fox and eagles just to name a few. Dogs should remain on leash at all times in order not to disturb local area wildlife.
Locals tip: The Blue Cow Eatery offers up a Colorado style breakfast, that’s just perfect before a hike, while allowing your tail waggin’ friend a spot on their porch.
BEAR CREEK TRAIL AT LAIR O’ THE BEAR PARK – IDLEDALE, CO
This trailhead is a short 30 minute drive from Denver and has ample parking. The Idledale trailhead is located just 4 miles west of the town of Morrison, and permits dogs to hike on leash during winter months. We love this trail, because it offers something for everyone. There are both shorter, out and back hikes within park boundaries at 1.3 miles roundtrip, as well as a more challenging loop that exits park boundaries and continues on through to three other Denver parks which complete a 12.6 mile loop. The trail is scenic and calming as it travels alongside Bear Creek. The trail will most often not be completely snow covered, unless hiking after a recent winter snowstorm. Between storms, the trail can become icy in areas, so a good pair of yaktrax may help steady your footing along the way.
Locals tip: The trail, especially within the park, can be bustling with hikers and mountain bikers, even on winter weekends. Be sure to keep your pet on a short leash and communicate accordingly with passing traffic.
ALDERFER/THREE SISTERS PARK – EVERGREEN, CO
Another easy to moderate winter hike you’ll love that’s just 30 minutes from Denver, is the Alderfer/Three Sisters Park network of hiking trails. Located in the town of Evergreen, there are two trailheads approximately a 1/2 mile from each other along Buffalo Park Rd just south of downtown Evergreen. The 770 acres and nearly 15 miles of trails are a wonderful place for you and your pup to take in some beautiful views of winter along the front range.
Locals tip: Looking for something to eat but don’t want to leave Fido behind? You and doggy are welcome at the Evergreen South Cafe, located just off of Hwy 73 in Evergreen.
GOLDEN GATE CANYON STATE PARK – GOLDEN, CO
Located about 45 minutes from Denver, Fido will love the 35 miles of vast intersecting, dog-friendly trails that Golden Gate State Park provides its visitors. In winter, trails vary in distance and difficulty and change often with winter conditions. Be sure to stop at the visitor center to determine trail conditions prior to beginning your trek.
Locals tip: Reserve a pet-friendly yurt or cabin at Reverend’s Ridge and enjoy a weekend long filled trip of winter hiking with your best buddy. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
ELDORADO CANYON STATE PARK – ELDORADO SPRINGS, CO
Offering dog-friendly hikers three trails to choose from, there are nearly 14 miles of dog-friendly trail that is accessible in winter. Located just outside of Boulder, Smarter Travel listed Eldorado Canyon State Park as a top 10 park you can’t afford to miss. Once inside the park, you will find three trails, all of which are dog-friendly and open for hiking in winter. The Fowler trail is easy, the Rattle Snake Gulch trail is moderate, and the Eldorado Canyon trail is a bit more difficult.
Locals tip: Take the Rattle Snake Gulch trail to 6,100′ to view the coal train lines and former Colorado Ski Train to Winter Park. Further up, at approximately 6,700′, hikers can view the ruins of the Crags Hotel.
WINTER DOG HIKING TIPS AND PREPARING FOR EXTREME CONDITIONS IN COLORADO
Every year, people and their pets are improperly prepared to handle unexpected extreme winter weather conditions that appear along Colorado’s front range and mountainous regions. Often, hiking injuries on Colorado’s trails related to winter conditions can be avoided with proper preparation. For the sake of you and your pup, we cannot emphasize the need to be prepared, as even some of the easiest terrain can become difficult to navigate in the event of a unexpected winter storm. Below, we have gathered a few tips to better prepare you and your pet before venturing out on any Denver-area winter hike this season. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer you and your pup this winter!
- Pack enough water for you and fido to consume along the way as water sources may be frozen
- First aid kit to include matches or a lighter and a thermal foil blanket
- Pre-treat paws with pad balm or use winter specific dog booties
- Check and assess paws for dryness or cracking throughout hike
- Additional clothing/jacket for shorter hair dogs
- Dog hiking pack – pre-check for fit and comfortability
- Know your dog’s limits and total distance of the hike
- Pack extra dog treats and food
- Trekking poles
- GPS location beacon
- Use carabiners to safely secure dogs
- Pack an extra cell phone battery
- Check the weather – pack weather radio for extended treks
- Notify friends and loved ones of where you’ll be and when you expect to return
- Know the signs for frost-bite in dogs
- Know your dog’s ability to hike in deep versus packed snow
- Carry an air horn
- Bring a hiking companion