DENVER — There has been one big benefit of this wet spring: the wildflowers on trails along Colorado's Front Range are looking especially vibrant.
The same is true for the mountains, but sometimes life gets in the way of making a long drive into the high country — or you just don't want to deal with the fickle beast which is Interstate 70.
> If you are up for a drive, watch the video above for our roundup of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado.
Luckily, there are plenty of places to enjoy the spring within a few minutes of Denver. And not to state the obvious, but because of this, some of these hikes are liable to get pretty busy on weekends.
The best times to hit the trail are typically before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. (I'm a big fan of afternoons, because there's amazing light — just make sure to check the handy 9NEWS forecast for spring storms).
Another thing to mention? We want these public lands to be around for a long time. That means leave no trace (seriously, pick up after your trash and clean up after your dog!), and be courteous to other trail users. If it's muddy, consider going another day, and if you do encounter mud, walk through it and not around it.
The link below has a look at what you should do to make sure you're not THAT person on Colorado's trails.
This story is part of our weekly 9Neighborhoods series, where we explore communities and things to do in Colorado. Have a recommendation for a place to check out? Email RELATED: We want to know about the cool stories in Colorado that aren't being told
The summit loop of Green Mountain
Green Mountain may be Lakewood's most famous landmark (other than Casa Bonita), and it also happens to be one of the closest places to the city to see some wildflowers.
For nothing but singletrack, park on the Alameda side and head up the Green Mountain Trail for 1.1 miles. This will account for most of you climbing. From there, follow the summit loop trail for two miles and wind through wildflowers and catch the view of downtown Denver and Golden.
At the end of the Summit Loop you'll hit the service road and can tag the summit itself and then continue back to the radio towers and the trail down. If you're looking to make a circle trip, the Hayden Trail will also bring you back to the trailhead and is slightly longer, but less traveled.
This hike is around 5.4 miles.
Mt. Galbraith is a pedestrian-only park that's about a mile up Golden Gate Canyon Road. The main loop is about 4.4 miles (according to my running watch) and has a decent amount of vertical gain.
There are also incredible views of downtown and South and North Table Mountains, which are incredibly lush and green right now.
Then there are the wildflowers themselves, which are blooming right along the trail on the mountainside.
From the main parking lot, take the Cedar Gulch Trail 1.3 miles up to the Mt. Galbraith Loop. This 1.6 mile trail winds around the mountain, and it's a fun descent back to the trailhead via Cedar Gulch.
South Table Mountain
It seems like North Table gets all the love, but I'm a big fan of her southernmost and less-traveled sister.
Park at the Golden Hills Access area, and then take the Fossil Trail to the Serpentine Trail to connect to Dome Flow. The winding singletrack will take you through wildfires and offer views of Green Mountain. Connect with the Old Quarry Trail and follow the singletrack to Castle Rock, where you can get a bird's eye view of Golden.
Take the Old Quarry Trail back to the Fossil Trail to make it an almost circle trip.
Round trip, this hike is around five miles with only about 300 feet of elevation gain.
Apex Park and the Enchanted Forest Trail
Enchanted Forest is one of my favorite stretches of trail in Colorado, and I don't think I'm alone. It's so popular that Apex Park now opens it on designated days for bikers and hikers.
There's a reason though, especially during the spring. Dare I say, it is an Enchanted Forest.
The Enchanted Forest Trail is hikers-only on odd days and bikes only on even days. For the true wildflower experience (but a longer hike), start at the lower trailhead and work your way up the Argos trail to Pick-n-Sledge to Hard Scrabble to finally the Apex Trail, which will connect with the upper lot and also Enchanted Forest.
From there, it's a beautiful descent back down the mountain and to the parking lot, which is conveniently close to downtown Golden.
This hike is a total of seven miles, but the trail system is built so you can make it longer or shorter, depending on your preference.
The Morrison Slide Trail to Red Rocks at Matthews/Winters Park
This trail is among the most popular on the Front Range, but there's a reason for it.
Start at the main parking lot and take the Village Walk trail about a half mile to the Red Rocks Trail, which will connect with the Cherry Gulch Trail in 0.4 miles.
From here, turn right onto the Cherry Gulch Trail, and after a brief drop into a creek bottom, you'll hit the Morrison Slide Trail and climb around 500 feet onto a hilltop where you're afforded a cool view of the Hogback and some lush wildflower scenery.
The descent down the hill into the Red Rocks is one of the coolest at the park. Cut left on the Red Rocks Trail and climb up some red rocks and descent slightly back to Morrison Slide. There's an option to extend the hike a little and stay on the Red Rocks trail, which will dip down into the valley before returning to the trail back to the trailhead.
This is around five miles roundtrip, and definitely one to try and complete early to avoid the crowds.
Mt. Falcon and the Turkey Trot Trail
Sorry for the above photo: during my last trip to Mt. Falcon I was too busy being a stage mom to actually take useful wildflower photos for this article.
If you haven't been there, just take my word: Mt. Falcon is a classic. If you don't feel like making a 2,000 foot climb, parking at the upper trailhead (near Indian Hills off US 285) and take the short hike to the Castle. Nearby, you can also find trails that wind through the meadows and offer gorgeous views of metro Denver.
If you're feeling extra energetic, start tear Morrison and take the hiker-only Turkey Trot trail 1.7 miles up to where it connects to the Castle Trail. From there, it's another 1.6 miles and another thousand feel of climb to the Castle and other upper trails including the cornerstone for what could have been the summer White House.
South Valley Park
This is a popular trail, but there's a reason for it ... especially during wildflower season. It's also a little bit easier than the other options.
This park has dramatic red outcroppings, and plenty of scenery to accompany the flowers.
For an easy threeish mile hike, park at the north trailhead and take the 0.8 mile Swallow Hill trail to the Prairie Falcon trail, where you'll connect with the Coyote Song trail, which you can take to the south trailhead. From here, it's possible to link up with the Deer Creek Canyon trails, but if you aren't feeling it, turn around and hop on the Coyote Song trail, which will run parallel to how you came in and has slightly more elevation gain.
It's a brief downhill back to the trailhead.
White Ranch Park
White Ranch Open Space is the largest in Jefferson County's system, which means there are a wide variety of trails to check out.
Like most of the Front Range, it's very green this spring, and full of different kinds of flowers.
For a roughly 4.5 mile hike, park at the lower lot and take the Belcher Hill trail 1.8 miles up to the Lower Longhorn trail. From here, it's 1.1 miles of winding and downhill singletrack to the Whippletree Trail, which will connect you back to Belcher Hill and the trailhead.
White Ranch is huge and has plenty of climbing, if you're looking for some cardio with your wildflowers, and it's really choose your own adventure.
Elk Meadow Loop
The four-mile Elk Meadow loop winds through a beautiful and relatively flat stretch of the foothills. This loop involves taking the Meadow View Trail through a combination of meadows (hence the names) and a forested area that provides some welcome shade.
If you're feeling energetic, take the 4.7 mile hike (one-way) to the top of Bergen Peak for amazing views of the Denver metro area, foothills and Mt. Evans.
This is roughly a 2,100 foot climb, meaning it's quite the commitment, but it's well worth the trip, especially if you do the descent down the Long Trail and back to the Meadow View Trail.
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