Winter Park may have built a reputation as a winter wonderland, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have just as much to offer in the summer! As the snow clears out, the trails open up, and nature comes to life, you’ll discover a whole other side to the magical mountain town. While winter is ideal for snow sports, summer gives you the chance to have exciting adventures throughout Winter Park’s many beautiful parks. You can hike, bike, and climb all through the season! But with so many parks, how can you decide where to begin? We’ve curated a list of can’t-miss parks and trails around town so that you can have the best, most adventurous summer ever!
Arapaho National Forest
Together, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland cover 1.5 million acres of central Colorado, extending all of the way up to the Wyoming border. When you’re in Winter Park, you’ll find that many of the local summer outdoors activities revolve around Arapaho National Forest and its assortment of wilderness areas.
Across the broader national forest, you’ll find 1300 miles of trails, each of which cuts through breathtaking, wild scenery. There are options for hikers of all skill levels! If you’re based out of Winter Park, then you’ll want to check out fantastic, easily accessible trails such as…
- Byers Peak Trail (hard, 2988 ft elevation gain, 9.1 miles, out-and-back)
- Jim Creek Trail (moderate, 1473 ft elevation gain, 8 miles, out-and-back)
- Berthoud Pass Trail (moderate, 1591 ft elevation gain, 6.2 miles, out-and-back)
- Discovery Challenger Trail (easy, 131 ft elevation gain, 1.2 miles, loop)
- Lower Roof of the Rockies (easy, 298 ft elevation gain, 3.6 miles, out-and-back)
For more trails across Arapaho National Forest, visit AllTrails.
Within Arapaho, there are a few wilderness areas that are worth checking out.
James Peak Wilderness
James Peak Wilderness is a 17,015 acre wilderness area that boasts several peaks over 13,000 feet and more than a dozen alpine lakes. This gorgeous region of the Rockies covers a range of elevations and ecosystems, allowing visitors to enjoy diverse hikes. Two popular moderate hikes are Blue Sky Loop and Clayton Lake and Rogers Pass Trail. Blue Sky Loop is a 3.9 mile loop trail that features 436 feet of elevation gain, while Clayton Lake and Rogers Pass Trail is a 5.7 mile out-and-back trail that features 1781 feet of elevation gain. Both are great trails with forest scenery, wildflowers, and active wildlife. For more hikes in James Peak Wilderness, visit AllTrails.
Indian Peaks Wilderness
Indian Peaks Wilderness is a 73,391 acre area that is home to over 50 lakes and 133 miles of trails. It is a popular destination for activities including hiking and fishing. In fact, it is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country. According to AllTrails, the most highly rated trail in Indian Peaks that is close to Winter Park is High Lonesome Trail, King Lake Trail, Bob and Betty Lakes Trail. This moderate, out-and-back hike traverses 3.7 miles and 1125 feet of elevation gain. It features lake views and lots of wildflowers. It is commonly used for both fishing access and hiking.
Vasquez Peak Wilderness
Vasquez Peak Wilderness is a 12,300 acre wilderness area made up of tundra, spruce forest, and fir forest. It centers around the 12,947’ Vasquez Peak. A modest 15 miles of trails are located around Vasquez Peak, with hikes taking visitors to two small lakes, six peaks above 12,500’, and many small creeks. The majority of the trails are above the timberline. One of the top hikes in Vasquez Peak Wilderness that is accessible from Winter Park is Tunnel Hill and Little Vasquez Loop. This moderate, loop hike is 4.6 miles long and features a 780 foot elevation gain. The forest and river views are fantastic.
Other Recreational Areas
Looking to spend a calm day at the park? Winter Park is home to an assortment of parks, including three public parks and a skate park.
Want to enjoy an adventure in a national park? The western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park can be accessed by US Highway 34. The 37 mile drive takes a little under an hour.
Do you have a favorite park or outdoors space to visit during the summer in Winter Park? Share it with us in the comments!