Discover the beauty of Grand County, Colorado on foot. Experience nature first hand with miles of scenic trails that are great for strolling or hiking. Whether you are up for a challenging overnight backpacking trek into pristine wilderness areas, or simply looking for a leisurely stroll through a wildflower-filled valley, you can have it your way on any of the hundreds of miles of trails available to hikers in Grand County, Colorado—no extra charge for the spectacular views!
For complete information on hiking and backpacking in each of the four main areas of Grand County, Colorado and to request a trail map, please contact each chamber directly.
Hiking Guide to Grand County
Nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, Grand County is fortunate to have numerous breathtaking trails and wilderness areas to explore. Not only is hiking available in Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests also offer hundreds of routes to explore in addition to trails you can access from within or nearby cities.
The Official Hiking Guide to Grand County, which traces 18 trails from Winter Park to Grand Lake including elevation maps for each trail, descriptions, photos and a rating system for each hike, can be ordered online here from Guest Guide Publications.
Favorite Grand County Trails
After accumulaing experience in the backcountry, hikers often want to feel the rush of summiting a mountain. There are enough 13ers and 14ers in Colorado to keep you busy for years. Start with an easier summit, like Elk Mountain or Mount Flora and work your way up to summits like James Peak and Longs Peak. For more information about trails in Grand County, take a look at the current Trail Guide from the Headwaters Trails Alliance.
Backpacking and Camping
Visitors travel across the nation to experience camping and backpacking in Colorado. Residents often enjoy these favored hobbies too. But no matter where you come from and what your travel plans are, Grand County can provide the campgrounds or dispersed camping of your dreams. Either way, it's imporant to plan your route, know what roads are open, pack out everything you take in, whether you can bring Fido, as well as other rules and regulations.
If you're seeking a typical campground with restroom facilities and a firepit, the Sulphur Ranger District surrounding Grand County, which includes Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, provide an at-a-glance list of campgrounds, fees and permits, locations, reservations requirements, etc., to help you make the best destination decision for your party.
Backpacking, though it may require more preparation, is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Grand County has numerous trails leading to exciting wilderness camping and unforgettable remote vistas. Some of the most popular trails for thru-hikers include the Continental Divide Trail, Lake Evelyn Trail, Horseshoe Lake Trail, Second Creek Trail and Grays Peak Trail. You can also find recommendations here. Dispersed, or free camping is often permited within 300 feet of Forest Service roads. Check the Motor Vehicle Use Map to see if camping is legal in the area you wish to visit. See great tips on backpacking 101 here.
Orienteering and Geocaching
If you're looking to develop your map and compass skills, explore the orienteering opportunities at Devil's Thumb Ranch or in Rocky Mountain National Park. Once you've mastered orienteering, try the fun and challenging geocaching experiences at Devil's Thumb Ranch.
The Across the Divide GeoTour features Rocky Mountain National Park and the mountain villages of Estes Park & Grand Lake. This geocaching tour will take you from town to town crossing the Continental Divide and all the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Looking for the Best Views?
The best vista in Colorado? Now that's an interesting debate. In Grand County, we think we have multiple contenders for the title, especially the 10 best scenic views we've rounded up for our website. Whether you're looking for a scenic drive or to experience the wild from the comfort of your hiking boots, we bet you'll agree that these vistas are as good as it gets. For our favorite scenes off the highway, check out some of our hiking and biking recommendations, like Lone Eagle Peak or Byers Peak.
More information about hiking and county surveryor maps in Grand County visit its website.
Be sure to review and follow Leave No Trace principles to keep our land Grand! Whatever your means for exploration, it pays to be prepared on the trail or in the backcountry. Some tips may not surprise you, like you should always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return. But if you're just starting out, it's best to know more than the location of your trail head. As with any form of exercise, consider expert advice before you begin.
To be adequately prepared for a wilderness hike, there are 10 essentials systems you should always carry:
Navigation: compass and maps
Sun Protection: sunscreen, hat, polarized sunglasses
Insulation: extra clothing/layers
Illumination: headlamps or flashlights
First Aid: kit or supplies
Firestarter: waterproof matches, lighters, flint, trioxane tablets
Repair Kit: tools, a multi-tool with a knife, duct tape
Nutrition: at least an extra day's worth of food
Hydration: a means of treating water, one extra water bottle, know your closest water sources
Emergency Shelter: a tarp and ropes, space blanket, even a large plastic bag
At altitudes above 8000 feet, oxygen deprivation can cause altitude sickness, which is common and easily treatable, but can be life threatening in some cases. Work towards higher elevation changes over several hikes, plan short trips until you are acclimated and use heavily trafficked trails until you know your limitations. If you feel short of breath, fatigue or headache, take a break until it passes or move to a lower altitude. If your symptoms worsen or include chest tightness, dizziness, loss of appetite, cough or confusion- immediately seek medical attention.
Be prepared for Colorado's ever-changing weather conditions. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer months. You should be especially cautious when you're going on a summit hike. Bring your ten essentials and begin early enough to be off the mountain by noon. In winter, check avalanche conditions before you depart and carry the recommended safety equipment. View current weather conditions here.