One of my favorite things about living in Denver is that I can drive my car in virtually any direction and find a natural playground just outside its limits. And nearly all of them are within a quick drive to a cute mountain town, so you can grab a burger, beer, or ice cream after you’ve burned all those calories on the trails.

Whether you’re here for a visit or here to stay, having these easily accessible hikes in your back pocket will ensure you’re never at a loss for fun things to do.

1. Lair of the Bear

Lair of the Bear is a long time favorite of locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why. With it’s quick and easy proximity to Denver, convenient parking, and variety of trails that that cater to everyone from the avid outdoor enthusiast, the out of shape in-laws, and the dawdling toddler, this place has something for everyone. There’s even fishing and picnic tables, making it the quintessential place to take the whole family.

Hike Distance: 1.7 miles. Denver Drive Time: 30 mins. Activities: Fishing, hiking, mountain biking, picnics, bird watching

2. Mount Falcon

I”m not even going to lie- I put this one on the list with a good bit of trepidation, as it’s truly one of my favorite places in CO and I’m reticent to share it, but alas. Lots of diverse trails, horseback riding, breath taking vistas, old ‘castle’ ruins and some cool history make this a long time local favorite.

Hike Distance: 2.3 miles. Denver drive time: 32 minutes. Activities: hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnics. Closest Town: Morrison/Indian Hills

3. Alderfer and Three Sisters Park, Evergreen

This park offers a very diverse and extensive trail system, with over 18 trails and more than ten miles to be explored. There’s beautiful flora and fauna in the park, and something fun to be experienced by every skill level.

Hike Distance: .2-10+ miles Denver drive time: 35 minutes. Activities: hiking, mountain biking, climbing, wildlife watching. Closest town: Evergreen.

4. Castlewood Canyon State Park

Unlike many of the other popular hikes near Denver, Castlewood Canyon State Park isn’t located in the mountains, but rather in the Colorado plains. But don’t be fooled- this park is just as full of natural beauty and challenging hikes as any of it’s mountaneous colleagues. It also features rock climbing, historic ruins, caves, and a waterfall, so how do you beat that?

Hike Distance: .25 – 4 miles. Denver drive time: 40 mins. Activities: hiking, rock climbing, visitor center, picnic area. Closest Town: Castle Rock

5. Panorama Point in Corwina Park

Just as the name implies, the real hallmark of this hike are the rewarding vistas. The trail is of medium difficulty, and you’re accompanied by a beautiful creek along your hike. There’s also a great spot for a picnic and you can bring your poles along for some great fishing.

Hike Distance: 2.4 mile loop. Denver drive time: 35 mins. Activities: hiking, fishing, picnic. Closest Town: Evergreen.