Top 10 Waterfall/Lake Hikes

There’s nothing better than a beautiful waterfall or lake, especially one that appears in the middle of the mountains! I’m someone who loves to hike to a destination, I want something to look forward to and a waterfall or lake will always do the trick. We have some incredible ones in Colorado but here are my favorite hikes featuring waterfalls & lakes within a couple of hours from Denver!

 

4.4 Miles / 807 ft. Elevation Gain
Nederland, Colorado
Approachable

This hike is beautiful from start to finish with incredible views, waterfalls along the way & then a beautiful alpine lake at the end. It’s certainly not easy (neither is parking) but it’s worth the trip, plus you can stop in Nederland for lunch on your way home!

 

6.2 Miles / 935 ft. Elevation Gain
Ward, Colorado
Approachable

The trail to Ouzel Falls is the gift that keeps on giving! You get two waterfalls along the way before getting to Ouzel. It’s beautiful and last time we saw two Moose right as we were driving in. 

 

7.5 Miles / 1,741 ft. Elevation Gain
Breckenridge
Not-So-Approachable

Well, this one kicked my butt. Looking back it was totally worth it for the multiple lakes and views, but it’s difficult not just in the elevation gain but also finding the trail. Make sure you’ve got the AllTrails Map ready to go and bring lunch to enjoy at one of the  lakes!

 

13.2 Miles / 1,900 ft. Elevation Gain
Pine, Colorado
Not-So-Approachable

Elk Falls isn’t quite as difficult as the mileage suggests, but it’s definitely challenging. That being said, Staunton State Park is one of my favorites around and the views along the hike are about as beautiful as the falls itself. (Also, it’s much bigger in the spring, I hiked it at the end of summer during a severe drought)

 

6 Miles / 994 ft. Elevation Gain
Ward, CO
Approachable

This hike really lives up to its name! The lake is impossibly blue, especially when you hike around it and the colors really start to pop. There are lakes along the way, then you can even hike up to Little Blue Lake if you’re looking for a challenge.

 

2.6 Miles / 574 ft. Elevation Gain
Frisco
Approachable

This may be cheating slightly since you never go right up to the lake, but you get the view of Lake Dillon for most of the way so I’m including it as a favorite. It’s right near Frisco, has beautiful wildflowers & last time I was on the trail I saw two Moose!

 

6.6 Miles 1,781 ft. Elevation Gain
Silver Plume, CO
Not-So-Approachable

The lake itself isn’t the most spectacular, but it makes for a nice place to stop for lunch on a hike with some of the most incredible views. This one has some killer steep parts, so get ready for a great booty workout. 

 

3.4 Miles / 990 ft. Elevation Gain
Estes Park, CO
Approachable

Gem Lake is one of my all-time favorites in one of my favorite towns. You get some of the most amazing views of Estes Park then you arrive at a stunning lake. There are a few steep parts but it’s well worth it!

 

9.2 Miles / 1837 ft Elevation Gain
Estes Park
Difficult

There’s not much that’s as beautiful as the views along this hike. From Alberta Falls to the Loch, Lake of Glass then finally to Sky Pond this hike is incredible. It’s pretty approachable right up until the waterfall you need to climb up to get to Lake of Glass.

 

7.0 Miles / 902 ft. Elevation Gain
Ward, CO
Approachable

This is my absolute favorite hike! You get three lakes, all incredibly beautiful but Lake Isabel is probably my favorite spot across the state. I don’t know what it is but the first time I saw it I fell in love. This hike also isn’t too difficult with the only steep part right at the end. Enjoy!

 

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

More From Kylie

Mental Health Check In

Mental Health Check In

I haven’t talked about mental health publicly in a while and it’s for a couple of reasons. The first is actually pretty wonderful: this is the best I’ve felt mentally in years. I feel like after years of turbulence my life feels settled, stable and full of purpose....

Hike For A Cause

Hike For A Cause

What an amazing weekend! There's nothing better then spending time outside with wonderful people who genuinely care about making an impact in our community. When the team behind HalfDays first approached me about teaming up to do a fundraiser, I was immediately on...

Best Road Trips from Denver

Best Road Trips from Denver

1. Southwestern ColoradoFrom Crested Butte to the Black Canyon then rounding off the trip with a stay in Ouray and Telluride, southwestern Colorado is an absolute must visit! Must hike: Black Canyon of GunnisonOuray Perimeter Trail We did a mix of camping and Air...

AO’s First Fundraiser

AO’s First Fundraiser

It's been almost a year since Approachable Outdoors launched last summer as a fun side project during the Pandemic and I'm still blown away every day at what it's grown into. In the very early days I would dream about using this site as a source of good, to make an...

Weekend Getaway: Estes Park

Weekend Getaway: Estes Park

Estes Park is one of my favorite places in Colorado! It's only an hour and a half from Denver (which is a gorgeous drive) and it has so many options for a weekend away. Obviously the big focus of our trip was hiking: Hikes: Mill's Lake (4.9 Miles/886 ft. Elevation...

My First Guided Hike

My First Guided Hike

I usually find my hikes on AllTrails or through recomendations from friends and had never been on a guided hike before but the  YMCA of the Rockies offers a guided hike for free when you're staying there. One of the best parts was that I didn't have to worry about...

Road Trip To Moab

Road Trip To Moab

Moab is just over five hours from Denver so it’s perfect for a weekend adventure to another world. The gorgeous red rocks of Moab, Arches National Park and the Canyonlands are a must-see and it’s also a trip you can do over and over again and see something new...

Trunk Picnic

Trunk Picnic

Whether it’s a road trip or I’m feeling antsy in my little city apartment, trunk picnics are some of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. (Also, take note – killer date idea!) On road trips, especially through National Parks I’ll make sure I pack most of my gear...

Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Strawberry Park Hot Springs

I’ve been to a lot of hot springs both here in Colorado, out of state and in a few other countries but I’m not sure that any have captured my heart quite like Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat! I mean... just look at this:The scenic thermal pools are only 25...