The best places in the front range to hike, run, ride and paddle to beat the heat!

Fall is just around the corner but summer heat still has a strong hold on the front range. With record topping temperatures people are flooding to the mountains, eager to spend time in the wilderness.
However you can save the time (and gas $) by sticking closer to home!
Check out our recommendations of places close to the Denver area that you should visit on a hot day for your outdoor adventures.
And please share your favorite places to stay cool in the comment section below too!

Hike, run and ride:

Deer Creek Canyon Park
The trails in this park are diverse, challenging and rewarding.  From the lot/trailhead, take the Plymouth Creek trail to the Plymouth Mountain trail around to the Scenic View trail lookout for a tough 6 mile out and back route.  For most of the route you will be in rich and thick pine forests.

Windy Saddle Park:
Park at the Lookout Mountain Nature center and take the Lookout Mountain trail to the Beaver Brook trail.  This trail boasts 9 miles (one way) of exciting terrain including aspen groves, open fields, thick forests and some rocky scramble sections.  The higher elevation offers cooler mountain air for an exceptional long run or hike (no bikes allowed).

Getting through a rocky section at Lair o’ the Bear park.

Lair o’ the Bear Park
From the lot/main trailhead, take the Bear Creek trail.  The first 1.5 miles is a wide, flat dirt path along the creek and then you begin to climb on single track into a thick and fragrant pine forest.  The entire trail is 6.2 miles one way and is shaded most of the time. This is a beautiful trail system close to town that provides an opportunity for a great long run, hike or ride!

Staunton State Park:

This park boasts a myriad of unique trails with many run, ride and hike options and variations. We recommend this challenging yet rewarding 9.5 mile loop starting from the group picnic area parking lot.

Take the Staunton Ranch trail to Borderline trail.  Be prepared for a steep climb to the top of a ridge just below the base of the soaring iconic Staunton cliffs and if you have extra energy take the .1 mile overlook trail to take in the scenic view where on a clear day you can see Pikes Peak!
Next join up with the Mason Creek trail which winds through pine forests and a huge old growth aspen grove back down to the lot.
View the trail map here.  This loop starts at right around 8000 feet elevation and tops out over 9500 feet, so plan on slower going to accommodate for the thinner air!

For those seeking something a little tamer and/or for beginner hikers and trail runners, check out this 2.5+ mile loop filled with fields of wildflowers, aspen groves and historical structures.  From the parking lot, take the Davis ponds trail (go left and around the ponds) to Chase Meadow, take a right on Staunton ranch trail and back to the lot.
*This is a state park so there is an entry fee unless you have a state parks pass- which we highly recommend!

Myers Ranch
The trails here are mostly smooth and wind through forests of enormous old pine trees and groves of aspen.
Take the lower loop for a short 2 mile run or the switch backs to the top for a tougher 5 miler.  This park is the perfect place to escape the mid summer heat as most of the trail is completed shaded and for active parents the lower loop is stroller friendly (if you are up for a little adventure and your kids a slightly bumpy ride).

Bear Creek Lake Park: 

The trails at Bear Creek park are relatively flat and a lot of fun, perfect for beginner trail runners and/or mountain bikers.  Plan on a couple of creek crossings and a lot of shade, this is a great spot to run mid summer with plenty of opportunities to cool off with a creek crossing or if you are feeling especially ambitious a dip in the lake!
Take the Owl and Cottonwood trails that wind through the woods and along the creek.
If you want to avoid the fee and add an extra 1/2 mile to your run, park in the gravel lot located across the street from the Conoco off the Morrison exit and then cross over onto the bike path which will take you into the park by foot.

Cooling off in a creek crossing at Bear Creek. Photo: Brie Bustos

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

West of Golden, CO

Our recommend run for this park is a challenging yet stunning adventure through miles of Aspen tree groves, steady inclines and sweeping views of the snow capped Rocky Mountains.
For the longest option (total 10.9 miles), start at the  Kriley Pond parking lot and take the Blue Grouse trail.  Be prepared for a steep climb right from the lot for about .7 mi until you reach the Mule Deer trail loop.
To reduce the mileage (to just over 9) and for a more gradual start, park at the Ole Barn Knoll lot and take the Mule Deer trailhead directly behind the restrooms.  Take a right onto the Mule Deer trail and continue up, up and up to the Panoramic point lookout where you will literally have a panoramic view of Colorado’s majestic peaks including a handful of our state’s “14ers”.
The trail then joins up with the Raccoon trail which is a little more technical, follow the markings and make sure to stay on the mule deer trail (denoted by deer footprint signs) as you wind through open fields, aspen groves and shaded pine forests.
View the trail map here.

*This is a state park so there is an entry fee unless you have a state parks pass- which we highly recommend!


Getting onto (and into) the water is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Our women’s group exploring Gross reservoir in June

Bear Creek Lake park:
After your run or ride, head over to the Soda Lake beach.  Bring your own water craft or rent a SUP at the marina.  This small lake does not allow motorized boats so you will find it a calm and peaceful experience.  There is a very family friendly swim beach area and the water is clear and clean.

Evergreen Lake:
Nestled in the heart of this beautiful mountain town, Evergreen lake is worth the drive for cooler air and water temperatures.  Paddle on these gentle waters surrounded by the town’s namesake. There is a $8 per craft fee to recreate on the lake (bringing your own SUP or kayak, they also have onsite rentals).

Gross Reservoir:
“This hidden Gem lies in the foothills above Boulder, Colorado on the South Boulder Creek Drainage as it cuts its way through fantastic Granite rock outcroppings sculpted by Glacier” (  This stunning cold water lake is surrounded by views of snow capped peaks and is the ideal place to spend time on a sweltering summer day.

Life’s 2 Short Fitness offers programs, clinics and community for women looking to get into outdoor adventures like trail running, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding and snowshoeing. Learn more about our programs HERE.

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