There are many draws to the quaint, historical settlement of Georgetown. Some people visit to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Others come for Loveland Ski Area, lodging in the town to be closer to the slopes. But the vast majority of Georgetown’s visitors come to hike the mountains that surround the place. Hiking near Georgetown is easy because of all the trails you can find within arms reach, making it a little overwhelming to find the best hike. These five hikes are the locals favorites and will definitely not disappoint. Don’t forget to pack your camera!
Silver Dollar Lake
Silver Dollar Lake is first on the hiking near Georgetown list for good reason — this trail features three alpine lakes, towering slopes in all directions, and is just hard enough to challenge any hiker. This trail is 4 miles out and back if you park at the trailhead. To reach the trailhead, it’s best to have a sport utility or 4WD vehicle. If you don’t have a vehicle of this type, that’s okay! You can park at the paved parking lot along Guanella Pass Road. If you park here instead, just keep in mind that your hike will take a little longer.
The entire distance of the hike is uphill. It’s great for elevation gain and those looking to break a little sweat. For hikers that are trying to take it easy, this trail offers some magnificent views during breaks. The descent is a breeze, all downhill, and also feels like a well-earned reward. Naylor Lake is the first lake you can see from the trailhead and it’s gorgeous. The second lake you will see on your journey is Silver Dollar Lake, which is equally stunning. Many people like to stop and turn around once they’ve reached Silver Dollar Lake. The north-facing slopes take your breath away and provide the experience you desire from a good Colorado hike. But if you push on just a little further, you can reach Murray Lake, which is well beyond worth it. The views here are impossible to describe, so you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Keep In Mind
There are a couple things you’ll want to keep in mind when hiking Silver Dollar Lake. The trail is predominantly above treeline so a windbreaker, beanie, and gloves are not a bad idea to pack. You will want to prepare for the heavy gusts of wind that sweep through this area often. Also, while this is a hike that you can bring your dog on, it is a popular hike, so please be respectful of other hikers and their furry companions.
Photo of Mt. Bierstadt near Guanella Pass Scenic Byway
Mount Bierstadt’s popularity comes from its elevation. A peak sitting at 14,060 feet, Bierstadt is one of Colorado’s fifty-eight 14ers. A 14er, for those who aren’t aware, is a summit above 14,000 feet in elevation. Because Bierstadt is just above the 14,000 foot mark, it is a perfect fourteener first! It’s about an hour away from Denver, so it’s also ideal for those visiting the city and seeking a challenge not far away. That said, this is a strenuous hike, not for those that cannot handle long distance or are having trouble adjusting to the altitude.
The trailhead starts at Guanella Pass Summit to the right of the lower parking lot. The beginning of the hike is easy on its travelers. You take a boardwalk through marsh and pass Deadman’s Lake, a wildy peaceful spot to stop before the climb. Moose and other wildlife are seen here frequently so maintain your distance, but don’t miss out on an opportunity to view the animals that pass through! After Deadman’s Lake is furthering behind you, you cross Scott Gomer Creek, and this is where the actual work begins. The climb to the summit starts out gradually and increases in difficulty as you go. It’s 2,700 feet of elevation gain in only three miles of distance, so be ready to face the steep for most of the hike.
Reaching the Summit
It can be a very windy climb up the rocks that surround the base of the summit, so get ready to scramble to the top! But once you’ve reached the summit, there really is no better feeling and the views are just the icing on the cake. It is one of the most remarkable Colorado views out there; it feels like you are on top of the world!
Because there is such a great elevation gain, the descent can be hard on the knees. Consider packing some trekking poles so you can enjoy the trip back down. This is also not a hike you will want to do with insufficient water supply or without a lunch. At the very least, snack on some trail mix or protein bars so you can complete the hike with the energy that’s required. It’s also crucial to pay attention to the weather here too; it can change fast! The hike may start out sunny and without a cloud in the sky, and then in no time at all, it could start raining or snowing. This can be dangerous depending on where you are in your hike! Pack appropriately and don’t prioritize reaching the summit over facing the dangers extreme weather can bring.
It’s wise to start this hike early in the day because the trailhead parking lot fills up fast. It’s also worth mentioning that dogs are allowed on this trail, but must be on a leash because of the fragile alpine and tundra ecosystem. If you’re not willing to leash them the entire hike or your pup cannot resist splashing around in the water, you might leave them at home. That all said, this is not only one of the greatest hikes near Georgetown, but is one of the greatest hikes near Denver!
Saxon Mountain Summit
Saxon Mountain made the list of great hiking near Georgetown because of the breathtaking views at the summit. However, it is not your typical hike. Ranked difficult, Saxon Mountain trail is a steep shelf road with many switchbacks and is popular for ATV and 4WD travel. If you’re looking to travel the path by car, you’ll want a high clearance 4WD vehicle. For those of you hiking it, your dog is more than welcome to tag along!
Not a crowded hike because of its difficult terrain and long distance, Saxon Mountain trail is not for casual hikers. It’s pretty steep and rockfalls can be common here. But if you’re up for the challenge, it will certainly test your stamina! Along the way there are several old log cabins and the higher you climb, the better the view of Georgetown gets. The rewards at the summit are well worth the work you put into getting there. From the top, you can see Mount Evans, the Alvarado Cemetery, an unobstructed view of Georgetown and the Interstate 70 corridor, and you may even catch an incredible Colorado sunset!
If you go later or earlier in the hiking season, bring snowshoes with you. Snow melt is very slow in the area, so its presence can prevent you from reaching the summit. You’ll also want to be sure to pack some snacks and more than enough water. This trail is perfect for visitors staying in Georgetown who want to walk to a trailhead. Saxon Mountain towers right above Georgetown Lake and is easily accessible right from town.
Square Top Mountain
What’s so great about this hike is that it’s the same location as Mount Bierstadt with the same views, but doesn’t have the crowds the 14er draws. There are two parking lots at Guanella Pass Summit. To access the Square Top trailhead, you’ll want to park at the upper parking lot. The trail is relatively easy at the beginning, with a mellow but gradual climb with an open landscape. But then a steep ascent takes place the rest of the way to the summit. Wildflowers are abundant on this trail, and the exposed landscape is perfect for those who like to pack a pair of binoculars.
The summit has everything you can imagine! Sunrise and sunsets here are some of the best in the state! There’s also a magnificent view of Greys and Torreys, Mount Bierstadt, the Sawtooth just to the left of Bierstadt, and you can even see a ski resort towards Summit County. Trekking poles for your way back down are going to help you and your knees. This is also a trail that requires a good application of sunscreen. If you are looking for great hiking near Georgetown that’s a 14er-like hike, Square Top Mountain should be the first on your list!
Rutherford Trail is the easiest of all the hikes on this list! It is perfect for all skill levels, for your children, or for those not adjusted to the altitude. You can access Rutherford Trail two different ways. If you drive up Guanella Pass Road south and above Georgetown, the Silverdale Interpretive Site has a trailhead you can park at. The Sporting Times trail turns into Rutherford Trail, lengthening the hike for those wanting to be out in nature a little longer. If you want to access Rutherford trail right from the historic district of Georgetown, you can do that too!
If you’re on Sixth Street (downtown Georgetown,) head south on Rose Street towards Third Street. Once you’ve reached Third Street, take a left and go all the way to the end of Third. The beginning of Rutherford trail starts here with a very steep climb. Don’t let the steep beginning deter you from the rest of the hike! Once you reach the waterfall and the footbridge that crosses it, the rest of the hike is very mild and beautiful.
Rutherford follows to the left of South Clear Creek, so there are plenty of water features on this hike. There are also some fun wooden bridges scattered throughout, built over areas of snowmelt or water runoff. It’s also an interesting way to learn about the area! This is because of the QR code signs along the trail. By scanning these codes with your phone, you can learn about historical locations in the area.
Closest Hike To Georgetown
If you’re looking for a mild hike and a wonderful place to witness the changing of the aspen leaves, Rutherford is ideal! It’s rare you see another hiker on the trail, feeling like you have the place all to yourself. Once you get to the point of the trail where Rutherford merges with Sporting Times, you are in aspen heaven. The leaves pop off here, making it the perfect spot for lunch or to hang a hammock and enjoy a delightful book! Sometimes, you can hear the Georgetown Loop Railroad echo through the canyons, even over the sound of the rushing water, which is always a welcomed sound! This is a hiking near Georgetown must!
Hiking Near Georgetown, Colorado
Photo of The Town of Georgetown, Colorado
For many years, Georgetown has been a destination for all kinds of hiking and hikers. It’s also a unique and charming little town that loves to host visitors from all over the world. Lodging in Georgetown will allow you to spend more time out in nature, seeing the best of Colorado, and less time commuting back home. Here’s a pro tip; stop into the shops, restaurants, bars, and breweries in Georgetown and ask the locals which of these trails is their favorite! The people of Georgetown love to discuss the area and will be happy to share what they know. We hope to see you on the trails soon!