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Winter Hiking in Colorado – The Right Way To Go About It

Home » Winter Hiking in Colorado – The Right Way To Go About It


Whether your hike is a short jaunt through the woods or an all-day trek up a mountain, you’re sure to enjoy every minute of winter hiking in Colorado. The air is crisp and clean, the snow is fresh and untouched, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. There’s nothing like a winter hike in Colorado to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. So get out there and enjoy the beauty of the season!

Winter Hiking in Colorado
Winter hiking in Colorado is a good way to spend quality time. Make sure you have the proper gear like snowshoes, crampons, an ice axe, and some other stuff. Also, dress in layers and have proper outerwear to protect you from the cold. There are plenty of locations with different difficulties and distances..

What Gear Do You Need for Winter Hiking in Colorado

If you’re planning on doing any winter hiking in Colorado, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper gear. This includes items like snowshoes, crampons, an ice axe, and some other stuff. You’ll also need to dress in layers and have proper outerwear to protect you from the cold. Let’s consider the whole list of what you need for this adventure.

Proper footwear

There are a few things to consider when choosing proper footwear for hiking in winter Colorado. First, the temperatures can vary greatly, so you’ll want something that can keep your feet warm in the coldest of conditions. Second, since snow and ice are often on the trails, you’ll want something with good traction to avoid slipping. Lastly, since you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, you’ll want something that is comfortable and won’t give you blisters.

A good option for footwear is a waterproof hiking boot with a thick sole. This will provide warmth and traction while still being comfortable. Another option is a boot with a waterproof liner, such as a Gore-Tex boot. This will provide even more warmth, but may not be as comfortable for long hikes. It will also be useful to take spare insoles, which will reduce the load on the feet, and this is quite useful, given the long distances.

We especially recommend you consider the option to take snowshoes with you. Thanks to them your feet will not constantly fall into the snow and will be dry. An additional advantage of using snowshoes is the reduction of energy consumption when walking.

man tourist in outfit

Warm clothing

For colder temperatures, you’ll want to layer up with a base layer, an insulating layer, and a waterproof layer. Base layers are typically made of wool or synthetic materials like polyester, which help to wick away sweat and keep you warm. It can be high-quality synthetic or woolen thermal underwear. If you are interested in how to choose thermal underwear for women and men – please read the article about it here.

Insulating layers can be down or synthetic, and help to trap heat next to your body. Especially for winter hikes, light but very warm jackets are made, which warm well in extreme cold. Waterproof layers are important in Colorado because of the potential for snow and rain. They help to keep you dry and comfortable while you’re in the snowy mountains in Colorado.

man hiker in winter gear in front of the Colorado

Hat and gloves

There are a few different types of hats and gloves that are popular for winter hiking in Colorado. One type of hat is a wool beanie, which helps keep your head warm. Another type of hat is a fleece balaclava, which covers your head and neck and can also be pulled up over your nose and mouth for extra warmth. Gloves are typically made from wool or synthetic materials, and many hikers prefer to have a pair that is waterproof.


You’ll want to ensure the sunglasses provide enough UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Also, choose a style that will help keep your eyes protected from the wind and cold. Make sure the sunglasses are comfortable to wear and won’t fog up when you’re hiking.


The most important thing to remember when choosing a sunscreen for winter hiking in Colorado is to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. It is also important to choose a water-resistant sunscreen, as you will be sweating during your hike.


Water for winter hiking in Colorado can be tricky. The state is home to some of the country’s most iconic colorado winter mountains, and winter conditions can make accessing water sources difficult. In addition, freezing temperatures can make treating water difficult.

The best strategy is to pack enough water for your entire hike, plus an extra day or two. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can also purify water from melting snow or ice, but make sure to use a filter or purifier designed for backpacking.


Make sure you have enough calories to provide your body with energy during the hike. This means that you should bring foods that are high in calories and easy to eat while hiking. In addition, you will want to pack foods that will not freeze in cold temperatures. Stock up on energy bars and food that is easy to eat while hiking, doesn’t take a long time to prepare, and doesn’t take up much weight or space in your backpack. In order to keep food from freezing, you can use thermal bags, which will keep the food at the right temperature for a long time.

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First-aid kit

A first-aid kit for winter hiking in Colorado should include supplies for treating hypothermia and frostbite, as well as any other medical conditions that might occur while hiking in cold weather. Supplies might include analgesics, antihistamines, decongestants, and other medications.

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Tips for Winter Hiking in Colorado

  1. Wear proper clothing: This includes dressing in layers, wearing water-resistant and windproof outer layers, and wearing proper footwear.
  2. Be prepared for changing weather conditions: The weather in Colorado can change rapidly, so it is important to be prepared for any condition.
  3. Bring plenty of food and water: Hiking in Colorado can be strenuous, so it is important to bring enough food and water to keep yourself properly fueled and hydrated.
  4. Be aware of avalanches: Avalanches are a real danger in Colorado, so it is important to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions.
    If you are going to be in an area where there is a possibility of an avalanche, it is important to have the proper equipment and know how to use it. You should also know how to read the avalanche forecast and be aware of the signs of an avalanche.
  5. Know your limits: Don’t push yourself too hard while hiking in Colorado. If the conditions are too difficult or you are not feeling well, it is better to turn back than to continue and potentially put yourself in danger.

If you are feeling a little bit fatigued, it is important to take a break and rest. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if it is hot outside, and eat snacks to maintain your energy. If you have any medical conditions, make sure to monitor yourself closely and seek help if necessary. Remember that safety should always be your top priority.

scenic view of colorado nature

9 Top Places for Best Winter Hiking in Colorado

Saint Mary’s Glacier

Saint Mary’s Glacier is a beautiful and popular spot for winter hiking in Colorado. The glacier is located in the Arapaho National Forest, and it’s a great place to hike in the winter months. The trail is about 2.4 miles long, and it’s an easy hike with great views.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Idaho Springs
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Difficulty: ‎Easy
  • Elevation gain: 1,030 feet

Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail

The Rattlesnake Canyon Arches trail is a great winter hiking trail in Colorado for those looking for a challenge. The track is located in the Rattlesnake Canyon area of the San Juan Mountains and is known for its steep and rugged terrain. This trail is not recommended for beginners or those who are not in good physical condition. The trailhead is located at the end of the 4WD road near the town of Silverton.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ ‎Fruitas
  • Distance: 12.2 miles
  • Difficulty: ‎Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 2,560 feet

two hikers in the Colorado wilderness

Emerald Lake to Bear Lake

Emerald Lake is the best winter hike in a rocky mountain National park. The lake is surrounded by evergreen trees and snow-capped peaks, making it a popular destination for hikers in the winter. Bear Lake is another popular hiking destination in the park and is known for its spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ ‎Estes Park
  • Distance: 4.1 miles
  • Difficulty: ‎Intermediate
  • Elevation gain: 740 feet

Quandary Peak Trail

The Quandary Peak trail is a great winter hiking trail in Colorado. It is located in the Pike National Forest and is a moderate to difficult trail. The trail is 6.4 miles long with an elevation gain of 3,200 feet. The trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. There are some sections of the trail that are steep and icy, so be sure to wear proper footwear and be prepared for winter conditions.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Breckenridge
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 3,200 feet

Mount Royal Trail

The Mount Royal Trail is a great winter hiking trail in Colorado. It is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park and is a beautiful trail that takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the state. This trail is perfect for a winter hike, as it is well-groomed and has plenty of signage to help you navigate.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ None
  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 1,374 feet

Strawberry Park Hot Springs Trail

The trailhead is located near the town of Steamboat Springs. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. It winds through the forest and then opens up into a meadow with views of the surrounding mountains. The hot springs are located at the end of the trail. There are several pools of varying temperatures to choose from. Winter hiking in Colorado springs is a great way to relax after a long day of hiking.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Steamboat Springs
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Elevation gain: 900 feet

a tree in front of a mountain in colorado

Window Rock at the Colorado National Monument

Window Rock is a great place to hike in the wintertime. The views are incredible, and the hiking is relatively easy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the trail can be icy in spots, so be sure to wear proper footwear. Second, the wind can be quite strong at times, so be prepared for that. Lastly, the temperature can drop quite a bit at night, so be sure to bring warm clothing.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Fruita
  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 180 feet

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The falls are accessible year-round, making them a popular destination for winter hikers. The falls are located in remote areas, so hikers should be prepared for a challenging hike. The trail to the falls is steep and slippery in places, so hikers should use caution. Once at the falls, hikers can enjoy the stunning views and take in the fresh mountain air.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Telluride
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Elevation gain: 1,320 feet

Purgatory Trail

Purgatory Trail is a popular winter hiking trail in Colorado that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is well-groomed and offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it a great option for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.

General information

  • Nearest town:‎ Durango
  • Distance: 8.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Elevation gain: 1,800 feet

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you hike in Colorado in December?

Yes, you can hike in Colorado in December, but you should be aware of the potential for winter weather conditions. Make sure you are prepared for cold temperatures and possible snowfall by dressing in layers and carrying appropriate gear. some people say they have their best hiking in December in the USA in Colorado.

Can you backpack in Colorado in the winter?

There are many people who backpack in Colorado in the winter. The key is to be prepared for the conditions. Make sure you have the proper gear, including cold weather clothing, and be aware of the avalanche conditions in the area you plan to hike.

Where can I hike in Colorado Springs in the winter?

There are a number of great places to hike in Colorado Springs in the winter. Some popular spots include the Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, and the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail.

Is it safe to hike in the winter in Colorado?

Hiking in the winter in Colorado can be safe if you take the proper precautions. Make sure to dress in layers, wear appropriate footwear, and bring plenty of food and water. Also, be aware of the conditions on the trail and be prepared for changing weather.

happy hiker on the mountain

How do people dress for winter hiking in Colorado?

People dress for winter hiking in Colorado by layering their clothing. They typically wear a base layer of thermal underwear, followed by a layer of wool or synthetic fabrics. They may also wear a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

What are the worst winter months in Colorado?

The worst winter months in Colorado are typically December and January. These are the months when the weather is at its coldest and snow is most likely to fall.

Is Colorado the snowiest state?

Colorado is not the snowiest state in the US. Alaska is the snowiest one.

Can you hike in Boulder in the winter?

Hiking in Boulder Colorado in winter is quite popular. But the trails may be icy. With the right equipment, it can be one of your best winter hikes near Boulder.


If you’re planning on hiking in Colorado during the winter, there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

First, you’ll need to have the proper clothing to keep you warm. This means layering your clothing so that you can adjust to the changing temperatures throughout the day. You’ll also want to make sure you have a hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect your face and hands from the cold.

Secondly, you’ll need to have the proper footwear. This means wearing boots that are waterproof and have good traction to prevent slipping on icy trails. Third, you’ll need to be prepared for the possibility of bad weather. This means having a map of the area you’re hiking in and knowing the route you’re taking. It’s also a good idea to bring a flashlight and extra batteries, just in case you get caught in the dark.

Finally, make sure you have plenty of food and water with you, as you’ll need extra energy to keep warm in the cold weather. By following these simple tips, you’ll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable winter hike in Colorado.

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