Hiking in Colorado is a year-round activity for many (me included) but let's face it, during the winter months it can be a bit more challenging with the snow, cold, and wind but on nice sunny days, it's hard to beat a day with snowshoes in the mountains.

Typically, when spring comes rolling around, people are looking to break out, stretch their legs and explore, and thankfully, there is no shortage of places to go and hikes to enjoy some incredible views that don't require a ton of effort and are great for hikers of all skill levels and ages.

The holy grail for many hikers is finding that hike with the perfect distance that's not too far, not too short, not too far of a drive, and not too steep with some sweet views for a reward at the end.

In the spring, that can be a little trickier because of the snow that is still prevalent in many areas of the higher elevations but there are some spots that you can hit that can you can certainly get your money's worth.

Another thing to keep in mind is, for safety purposes, this is the time of year when bears typically awaken from their winter hibernation and are searching for food so if you are having food on your hike, make sure it is sealed properly and disposed of properly to avoid any issues because bears have some really good noses and are very curious creatures.

Now, as for the best spring hikes - at least in my humble opinion - that are in or close to Fort Collins that are pretty doable for all different kinds of hiking levels and give you some sweet rewards with incredible views at the end.

Just to put it in perspective, my son, who was 6 on pretty much all of these hikes, was with me for them.

1. Arthur's Rock (Fort Collins)

This hike is located within Lory State Park and is about a four-mile hike roundtrip. Nice easy trail to follow and if you want to explore further when you summit, there are more trail options as you approach the summit.  On this particular day, I took my son Max (in the camo shirt) on the hike with one of his neighborhood pals.

2. Royal Arch (Boulder)

This is one of the nicest hikes anywhere and the best part is, it's not really difficult at all. It's just about a four-mile roundtripper with some of the best views of Boulder and the surrounding area waiting for you at the summit.

Just be careful at the top as there are rocks you can climb to get a better look around but watch your step and please keep your dogs leashed up here.

3.Gem Lake (RMNP Estes Park area)

This hike with a pretty tame grade is another one that's right around a four-mile roundtrip hike with a cool little lake on top with some awesome rock formations surrounding it. This is a great hike to take on a really warm day so you can cool off a bit in the water.

I'm not saying to a full on dip because the water is cold but it's refreshing to splash a little on your face and arms.

4. Mt Falcon Castle Trail (Morrison/Red Rocks area)

If you're looking for a little longer of a journey but still not on the crazy difficult side, this hike offers views all the way up and down including some views of historic Red Rocks in the distance plus a really interesting and cool castle ruins at the top. If you park in the lower parking lot like we did, you're looking at about an eight-mile roundtrip hike but if you go to the upper lot, it cuts the hike in half.

5. Kruger Rock (Estes Park)

For about a fie-mile roundtrip hike, this one offers a lot of bang for your buck in terms of effort and reward.  I haven't been on all of the hikes around Estes Park but I've been on a lot and in my opinion, this one right here gives you the best view of Estes Park and the valley below.  It's also an equestrian trail so you might get lucky like us and run into some horses on the trail too.

6. Horsetooth Falls (Fort Collins)

This one is literally in our backyard. For a couple miles you follow a trail that leads you to Horsetooth Falls but don't wait til later in the summer to do this hike because the falls will be mostly dried up.

Easy peezy, great views and fun for the whole family. You can also follow a trail that takes you above the falls too which is super cool and a nice perspective.

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