7 Unique and Easy Winter Hikes in Colorado with Kids

As the mountains start getting covered in snow, it is easy to consider packing up your hiking gear and hibernating until the spring. If you don’t ski or snowboard, the winter can feel extremely long since snow is usually on the mountain trails from October through May (yes, more than half of the year!). The good news is that winter is not only possible but can be a fulfilling family weekend activity, as long as you are prepared! Winter hiking takes more effort, more preparation, more gear, more snacks, and more grit but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful snowy scenery and fewer people on the trails. I have compiled a list of the most unique winter hikes in Colorado that you can do with your kids, along with the trail details for your trip planning. These hikes are relatively “easy” as they are lower mileage and are fun because they have unique features like an abandoned ghost town, frozen waterfall, or even a magical troll. 

7 Unique and Easy Winter Hikes in Colorado with Kids

Why Winter Hiking is Better than Summer Hiking

Okay, obviously, I much prefer hiking in the summer. The planning is easier, the travel is safer, the wildflowers are popping, the weather is more predictable, and the colors are bright. But when winter kicks in and I need that extra encouragement to hike in the cold, I like to focus on what makes winter hiking better than the summer. Here are few reasons that may help convince you:

Why Winter in the Best Season for Hiking
  • Fewer people on the trails. Winter hiking has gained some popularity in recent years, but there is no denying that there are fewer people on the trail than in the summer months. We have had some very popular hikes all to ourselves in the winter. 
  • No bugs or snakes. You can put away your bug spray and don’t need to worry about snakes this time of year. 
  • Snow covered mountain views. There is something special about snow covered mountains. They make the views pop. 
  • The outfits are cuter. This one is a matter of opinion, but I much prefer wearing a beanie and a snow bib than shorts and tank tops. The truth is that the outfits take more consideration as they are actually important when hiking in the snow. 
  • No need for reservations. 

7 Unique Winter Hikes in Colorado with Kids

Let’s get to the most unique and fun hikes to add to your winter bucket list! 

Please remember to leave no trace when enjoying these beautiful trails. Know the 7 principles and teach them to your kids. We can all do our part to leave the trail better than we found it!. 

1) Dream Lake

Dream Lake
    • Miles: 2 miles
    • Elevation gain: 470 feet
    • Type: Out and back
    • AllTrails Map
    • Fee: National Park Pass
    • Restroom: At trailhead
    • Dogs Allowed: No
    • Unique Features: Frozen lake and mountain views
    • Pros in the winter: You can find a parking spot at Bear Lake Trailhead
    • Cons in the winter: Gets very windy at the lake
    • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) people

2) Mayflower Gulch

Mayflower Gulch
    • Miles: 3 miles
    • Elevation gain: 550 feet
    • Type: Out and back
    • AllTrails Map
    • Fee: None
    • Restroom: None
    • Dogs Allowed: Yes
    • Unique Features: Mining ghost town and epic mountains
    • Pros in the winter: Fun one for cross country skiing or even sledding back down the trail 
    • Cons in the winter: Check avalanche conditions
    • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho),  and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) people

3) South Rim Trail at Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park
    • Miles: 3 miles
    • Elevation gain: 465 feet
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Type: Loop
    • AllTrails Map
    • Fee: State Park Pass
    • Restroom: At trailhead
    • Dogs Allowed: No
    • Unique Features: Red rock formations with contrast of white snow
    • Pros in the winter: Easy foothills access without mountain driving
    • Cons in the winter: Muddy
    • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) people

Most of the hikes within Roxborough State Park are great options for the winter. You can find my full post on the top 5 hikes in Roxborough here

4) Rifle Ice Caves

Rifle Ice Caves
    • Miles: 1.5 miles
    • Elevation gain: 220 feet
    • Type: Out and back / loop if you walk back on the dirt road
    • All Trails Map
    • Fee: State Park Pass
    • Restroom: At State Park entrance, portable restrooms along road
    • Dogs Allowed: Yes
    • Unique Features: Ice caves (and you can also check out Rifles Falls frozen while you are there!)
    • Pros in the winter: Ice forms in the caves
    • Cons in the winter: Trail is hard to navigate
    • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people

5) Treasure Falls

Treasure Falls
    • Miles: 1 mile
    • Elevation gain: 225 feet
    • Type: Out and back
    • AllTrails Map
    • Fee: None
    • Restroom: None
    • Dogs Allowed: Yes
    • Unique Features: 105 foot waterfalls that looks even more impressive when frozen
    • Pros in the winter: Great place to stretch your legs while heading to the San Juan Mountains 
    • Cons in the winter: Wolf Creek Pass road conditions are unpredictable
    • Ancestral land of the Diné Bikéyah, Pueblos, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho),  and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) people

6) St. Mary’s Glacier

St. Mary's Glacier
    • Miles: 1.5 miles
    • Elevation gain: 530 feet
    • Type: Out and back
    • AllTrails Map
    • Fee: Parking fee
    • Restroom: Portable restroom at trailhead
    • Dogs Allowed: Yes
    • Unique Features: Glacier year round, frozen lake in winter
    • Pros in the winter: There is a fun sledding hill at the lake
    • Cons in the winter: Windy at the lake
    • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) people

7) Breckenridge Troll

Breckenridge Troll
  • Miles: Less than 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Type: Loop
  • All Trails Map
  • Fee: Parking
  • Restroom: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Unique Features: Isak Heartstone the Troll
  • Pros in the winter: Short distance from Main Street and Breckenridge Resort so it makes for a fun activity while on a ski trip in Breck
  • Cons in the winter: None, best time of year to visit!
  • Ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people

 If you are looking for a winter getaway walking distance from the slopes, Main Street, and the Breckenridge Troll, check out our Airbnb at the Village


Now that I’ve convinced you to go hiking in the winter, here are some tips to ensure you have a successful (and fun!) experience!

10 Tips for Winter Hiking
  1. Check the weather forecast ahead of time, the morning of, and be prepared for sudden weather changes.
  2. Check the road conditions before you go.
  3. Wear the right winter gear (you are on the right post for these suggestions…scroll up!)—avoid cotton and wear layers. Check out my recommendations for dressing kids from head to toe in the winter
  4. Pack the 10 essentials—here is my packing list for hiking with kids! Emergency items like an emergency blanket, waterproof matches, a GPS, and a Trail Magik Carrier  are more important this time of year. I also add hand and feet warmers to our kit for the winter. Plus, micro spikes are a must for adults and kids!
  5. Download your maps from AllTrails in advance, or have a navigation system as the trails can be difficult to navigate in the snow. Bring a backup map and compass should you lose battery on your electronics.
  6. Keep electronics warm and close to your body as cold temps can drain batteries.
  7. Be prepared and know the local avalanche dangers. We tend to stay in the front range and on more local hikes below tree line in the winter to avoid these dangers. You can find watches and warnings here. I recommend taking an avalanche course if you are venturing into the backcountry—you can check REI’s class schedule or a more advanced course through Colorado Mountain School. 
  8. Drink plenty of water and opt for a water bottle instead of a water vestibule, as the tube can freeze if it gets too cold. If you are able to carry the extra weight, I recommend warm beverages in a thermos as well. 
  9. Eat extra calories to help you stay warm, but take short snack breaks so your body doesn’t cool down. I recommend easy snacks on the go for winter hikes. 
  10. Go pee when you need to—don’t waste your energy storing it in your bladder.
Amazon winter gear list


I hope this blog post has inspired you to try some hikes this winter. These 7 unique and easy winter hikes in Colorado with kids are a great start. Let me know if you do any of these and what you think!

You Trail Mom,


Interested in more winter inspiration? Check out  these posts!

How to dress kids for winter hiking
Collage of photos on a frozen waterfall hike
Ultimate Gift Guide for the Outdoorsy Family



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