Our Favorite Colorado Dog-Friendly Backpacking Trails

Posted On | January 8, 2024

Welcome to Colorado, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and their four-legged companions. If you’re seeking unforgettable backpacking adventures with your dog, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ve curated a selection of top-notch dog-friendly backpacking trails across Colorado, ensuring both you and your loyal companion have a safe and enjoyable experience.

To help you plan your journey, we recommend utilizing two valuable resources: Alltrails.com and the COTREX App. These resources provide essential trail information, including difficulty levels, mile markers, maps, and recent hiker comments. Most importantly, AllTrails specifies whether dogs are allowed, enabling you to plan with confidence and prioritize your furry friend’s presence. The COTREX app allows you to download maps offline for free and we love to use their trail measure tool to measure distances to water sources and key features.

It is crucial to stay informed about local regulations, restrictions, and trail conditions before setting out on your backpacking adventure in Colorado. Contact local ranger stations to check for closures or restrictions on campfires.

While exploring these trails, remember to prioritize your dog’s well-being. Ensure they have access to water, take breaks during challenging sections, and adhere to Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment and wildlife.

Now, let’s dive into the heart of this guide. I’ve handpicked a range of dog-friendly backpacking trails that showcase Colorado’s breathtaking landscapes, from majestic peaks to tranquil alpine lakes. These trails cater to various skill levels and preferences, offering both day hikes and multi-day expeditions.

Chicago Lakes

Location: Mt Evans Wilderness/Arapahoe National Forest | Idaho Springs, CO

Difficulty: Moderate-Hard

Distance: 4.6 miles one way to great backcountry camping spots (opportunity to hike further up to Upper Chicago Lake or even summit Mt. Evans)

Elevation: 1,587 ft

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/chicago-lakes-trail

Pros: Best views down the Chicago Lakes Basin. Waterfall for fresh water. Lots to explore and good day hike to Upper Chicago Lake.

Cons: It’s not the easiest of hikes. Definitely has some distance and elevation gain. Right below the tree line, so does get colder at night. Firewood can be sparse.

Wigwam Trail

Location: Lost Creek Wilderness | Bailey, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.3 – 11 miles one way (our favorite meadow area to camp at is approximately 3.7 miles from the Wigwam Trailhead)

Elevation Gain: 1,616 ft to our favorite camping spot

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/wigwam-trail-609

Pros: Great for early-season backpacking since the majority of the camping spots are at a lower elevation

Cons: Close to the Denver area and can get busy, especially in early season.

Mayflower Lake & Mohawk Lakes

Location: White River National Forest | Breckenridge, CO

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.5 miles one way from the Spruce Creek Trailhead (If you have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle starting in mid-June to July you can drive up further to 39.421479, -106.075044 and make it only a .38 mile hike)

Elevation Gain: 982 ft

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/mayflower-lake-and-mohawk-lakes

Pros: It’s a fairly easy hike and the option to drive further up when you’re heading up backpacking late on a Friday afternoon is great. There is an awesome day hike to Mohawk Lakes.

Cons: Can get busy at Mohawk Lakes. Mayflower Lake was partially destroyed/covered in tree debris due to an avalanche.

Wheeler Lakes & Lost Lake

Location: Eagles Nest Wilderness | Copper Mountain, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.3 miles one way (additional 2 miles and 697 ft of elevation gain to Lost Lake)

Elevation Gain: 1,496 ft

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/wheeler-lakes

Pros: We love the expansiveness of the area next to wheeler lakes (we saw a few elk and a moose on our trip). You can either backpack up to or do a day hike from Wheeler Lakes to Lost Lake which is one of the most pure, blue, stunning, high-elevation mountain lakes we’ve seen in Colorado

Cons: The water seems pretty stagnant at Wheeler Lakes so be confident in your water purification system. There are also the weirdest “dinosaur fish” with legs that are quite unique/creepy (but nothing to be scared of)!

Blue Lakes

Location: Mount Sneffels Wilderness/Uncompahgre National Forest | Ridgeway, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.2 miles one way (additional 1+ miles and 800+ ft of elevation gain to Middle and Upper Blue Lakes with option to summit Mount Sneffels)

Elevation Gain: 1,641 ft

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/colorado/lower-middle-and-upper-blue-lakes

Pros: Absolutely stunning and unique scenery! You MUST hike up above the Lower Blue Lake so you can truly experience its turquoise color. Lots of campsite spots at Lower Blue Lake.

Cons: Very popular area and backpacking sites. Campfires are prohibited.

Crater Lakes

Location: Indian Peaks Wilderness Area | Rollinsville, CO

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.8 miles one way (additional .9 miles to upper Crater Lake)

Elevation Gain: 1,418 ft

Trail Link: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/colorado/crater-lakes-trail-via-south-boulder-creek-trail

Pros: Beautiful area around Lower Crate Lake for camping. Nice easy day hike to Upper Crate Lake.

Cons: Very popular area and backpacking sites. Campfires are prohibited.

Are you an adventurous couple in need of wedding, engagement our couples photos in Colorado?

Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two born and raised Coloradoans who have photographed 200+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of photo experience that is just as adventurous as you are. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your advendure elopement and couples photographer today!

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