Climbing & Hiking Trails - 13 min read

15 Best Hiking Trails in Winter Park (Challenging For All Levels)

Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown, Updated September 27, 2022

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Winter Park, Colorado is home to the Winter Park Resort. It was named “Best ski resort in North America” in 2018 and “Number 1 ski resort in North America” in 2019 by readers of USA Today. On top of that, Winter Park hosts the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

Winter Park is a popular winter skiing resort as well as a famous hiking, fishing, and concert destination in spring and summer. The hiking trails in Winter Park are characterized by stunning mountainous scenery. Its beautiful snow-capped peaks are guaranteed to charm you. Winter Park is also famous for its challenging hikes, even for the most experienced hikers.

Whether you are looking for a family-friendly, moderate, or challenging hike, all with charming scenery, Winter Park promises to have it all. Below you will find the best trails that will have you explore Winter Park’s mountains.

1. Moffat (Rollins Pass) Road


This out-and-back hike will take you from Winter Park Village all the way to Heart Lake. It is an easy but long route. The best times to visit are June through November.

The area is open for off-road driving but only up to a tunnel. After that, you can only proceed on foot. There are camping spots along the way as well for breaks.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 11.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,246 Feet

2. Jim Creek Trail

Credit: edjimy / Flickr

An out-and-back, moderately challenging trail that ends with a stunning waterfall surprise. As the waterfall is the main selling point in this trail, it is best to visit after a good rainfall or snow melt.

The trail is also ideal for a walk in the forest and spotting various wild animals or wildflowers. In addition to that, there are some great campsites along the trail and near the trailhead as well.

Therefore, this is the perfect site if you are planning to stay in the area. The route is well maintained, all by the creek through the forest and downed trees.

Reviews report that the route can be rocky or muddy at some spots, especially at the top. Furthermore, it can get a little busy during the weekends and holidays.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,473 Feet

3. Little Vasquez Creek Trail

Credit: Alex Chavez / AllTrails

This out-and-back trail is a popular cross-country skiing area in the winter. That being said, the site in spring and summer is still impressive. It is best visited from February through October.

Little Vasquez is a beautiful trail through the woods. On top of that, it does not usually get busy. Therefore, you are guaranteed to have a quiet hike.

However, this hike is continuously uphill. So be prepared for a serious workout. And if you are a fan of more demanding challenges, there are plenty of nearby trails.

Reviews recommend going 500 meters past the original recording for a much better view. They also recommend you bring sunscreen as some areas do not have as much shade.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 9.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,955 Feet

4. Byers Peak Trail

Credit: Senad Rizvanovic / Flickr

A challenging out and back hike. This trail is an intense climb that is sure to leave you stunned at the end with some of the views from the surrounding areas.

Although the cherry on the cake is the surrounding view at the top, the route itself is nothing short of beautiful. You will encounter various gorgeous wildflowers, trees, and wild animal species.

It is recommended to bring sunscreen as there are long stretches that are exposed. And taking the standard route instead of the Bottle Pass side trail due to lots of blowdowns blocking the course.

The best times to visit this trail are June through November. Moreover, the area can be a little crowded on weekends or holidays.

The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 9.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,988 Feet

5. Berthoud Pass Trail

Credit: Skip Jenkins / Flickr

An out-and-back trail offers you stunning views all along the way up. Although this hike is moderately difficult, some areas have challenging switchbacks along the way.

However, the stunning snow-capped mountainous view should make up for the challenging route. And you can continue past the turnaround point and follow a connecting trail for an extra challenge.

But if you are not a fan of the challenge but would like to enjoy the view still, there is a 2-mile loop that you can take instead.

The best times to visit this trail are June through October. Although the area is not too buggy, some reviews suggest bringing bug spray.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,591 Feet

6. Discovery Challenger Trail


This looped, well-maintained trail is popular for a quick walk, running, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. However, the type of activities you can do depend on the weather.

This is a short, fairly easy trail which makes it perfect for a family-friendly hike or a stroll with great views. There is a picnic area on the west side of the loop.

As this trail starts at a high altitude, it is not short of charming mountainous scenery as well as a low elevation gain. There is a picnic area on the west side of the loop.

Also, if you would like to extend your hike, there is a longer trail past the Jim Creek dam. Although, it is better to be careful, as some reviews reported seeing an ornery moose.

The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 131 Feet

7. Arapaho Lakes via Rogers Pass Trail and Forest Lakes Trail

Credits: Michelle Nochlin / Alltrails

This challenging out-and-back trail is popular for hiking. Still, you will appreciate the stunning views of the mountains and the lakes despite the challenge.

Not only that, you will enjoy spotting wildflowers and birds. It is worth noting that, you will have to cross a creek at one point. So, bring waterproof boots or an extra pair of socks.

Reviews heavily recommend you to bring bug spray along as this area is quite buggy. They also report that there is a turn-off to Forest Lakes trail not marked up. So, make sure you do not end up taking the wrong track instead.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. But be cautious as the last few miles can be very steep.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 7.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,965 Feet

8. Deadhorse Creek


This looped trail is great for cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing. This trail is usually quiet, so you are guaranteed to have a good getaway.

The views of this trail are exceptional. You are provided with gorgeous mountain peaks. It is best to visit from December through January as this is best during snowy days.

In addition, you will also get plenty of wild animal viewing opportunities, especially moose. But it is recommended to be cautious around them. The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas.

Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,414 Feet

9. Yankee Doodle Trail

Credit: Charles Stemen / Flickr

This out-and-back hike is very popular for birding and mountain biking. It is perfect for a moderately difficult hike to a nice view of the Winter Park mountain peaks.

The trail is a single well-maintained lane but wide enough. The route is usually dry, but it is recommended to bring boots if there was a storm the previous day.

There is construction at the trailhead but, it is only for the first 200-300 yards. After that, it is a peaceful hike, although you should encounter a few people and bikers. And can connect to other trails along the route.

Reviews recommend bringing sunscreen as there are some areas that are not well shaded. Some reviews also report spotting a moose.

The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas. And the best times to visit this trail are May through November.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 734 Feet

10. Rogers Pass


This is an out-and-back hike that ends with stunning views. You will see James Peak, Perry Peak, and other mountains surrounding James Peak Lake and Heart Lake.

Moreover, you will see views of the towns of Fraser and Winter Park in addition to the Winter Park ski resort. The trail starts off easy but becomes a little bit more challenging as you quickly ascend above the tree line.

Not only that, on the way, you will spot a lot of beautiful wildflowers and wildlife species. Reviews recommend hiking down to Heart Lake after getting to the top of the pass for an extra stunning view.

There are also many additional hiking options if you would like to make the trip harder or more challenging.

The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas. Furthermore, after a snowstorm, it can be really challenging to climb up this path.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 941 Feet

11. Winter Park Resort Trail

Credits: Leanne Rae / Alltrails

A looped trail that is great for spotting birds and various wildflowers. Moreover, there are many views that are all worth checking out.

This trail makes use of the lift. So, if you want an easy hike, you can take the lift to the top. Whereas if you like a little bit of a challenge, you can take the lift after the hike from the top.

Winter Park Resort Trail is beautiful to visit anytime. And the trail welcomes dogs and, you can keep them off leash in some areas.

Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.9 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,617 Feet

12. Clayton Lake and Rogers Pass Trail


An out-and-back popular trail for camping, bird spotting, and backpacking. The views of the James Peak Wilderness at the top of the hike are nothing short of stunning.

Not only that, the dense forest, along with the running creek on the side, provides charming sights during the hike.

We recommend you be cautious at the beginning of the route as the initial bit is very steep. Some reviews also recommend you take a different route around the trailhead instead.

Reviews recommend bringing waterproof boots as the course can get a little muddy. In addition to that, you might have to cross a creek.

The trail welcomes dogs, and you can keep them off leash in some areas. And the best times to visit this trail are May through October.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,738 Feet

13. High Lonesome Trail, King Lake Trail, Bob and Betty Lakes Trail


This out-and-back trail is popular for spotting wildflowers, wild species, and fishing. There are 3 lakes in the area, each with a different charming view.

Reviews highly recommend stopping by an unnamed lake near King Lake on your hike back. The lake is beautiful with lots of wildflowers. Moreover, they report that it gets chilly and windy up there.

You should be cautious on the hike as some areas have deep dips and holes. It also connects to other hiking trails for an additional challenge.

On this hike, you will have to cross 2 streams or carefully rock hopping across the creek. Therefore, it is recommended to bring waterproof boots.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,125 Feet

14. St. Louis Lake Trail

Credits: Todd Bublitz / Alltrails

This is an out-and-back, very challenging hike. You will be climbing a steep trail through the woods. Along the way, you will spot various wildflowers and a pleasant stream.

There are two main routes to this trail: to St. Louis Lake or to St. Louis Peak. Although taking both courses is possible, it is a strenuous challenge even for the most experienced.

On St. Louis Peak, you will see expansive charming views of the surrounding mountains and the lake. Still, St. Louis Lake has its charm as well.

It is totally worth it to check out both routes. You could do them on separate days if it is too challenging to take both on the same day.

The trail welcomes dogs, but you must keep them on a leash at all times. Also, this area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. So, make sure to check the weather before heading on your hike.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 11.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,263 Feet

15. Satanta Peak and Mount Neva


Lastly, if you are a fan of extreme challenges, then this hike is for you. An out-and-back long and steep trail. If you want to see all the Winter Park mountains from the highest spot, this is the hike.

It needs to be noted that some portions of this trail can be dangerous. Therefore, advanced mountaineering and proper equipment like rope and helmets are required.

As this is a complex climb, you are usually guaranteed to have a quiet hike.

Once you get to the top, you will definitely want to have a long break and soak up the charming view of Winter Park. Moreover, you can camp in the area if you would like to stay over.

Pets are allowed on this trail, but there are restrictions, so please check them out before heading on your trip.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 15.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 5,364 Feet

Sources for Stats: alltrails.com

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