Top Rated Dog Friendly Hiking Trails Near Grand Lake Co

Grand Lake Colorado offers dogs and their owners some great hiking trails to enjoy together. But you have got to know where to find those dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Colorado. And that’s why this guide comes in handy.

What are the best dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Co as rated by dog owners? 

  1. Kruger Rock Trail – Estes Park, CO
  2. Doe Creek Trail – Granby, CO
  3. Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake – Tabernash, CO
  4. Monarch Lake Loop Trail – Granby, CO
  5. Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail – Tabernash, CO
  6. Lily Mountain Trail – Estes Park, CO
  7. Watanga Lake via Roaring Fork Trail – Granby, CO
  8. Colorado River and River Run Trail – Grand Lake, CO
  9. Gourd Lake Trail – Granby, CO
  10. Upper Lake and Stone Lake via Roaring Fork Trail – Grand Lake, CO
  11. Lost Lake Trail from Wolverine Bypass – Grand Lake, CO.

In this article, you are going to find out (in much detail) what’s so good about the above dog friendly hiking trails and why you should try them out with your dog. So let’s get started.

Best Hiking with Dogs Near Grand Lake Colorado According to Dog Owners

Rating dog-friendly hiking trails, particularly in mountain regions is difficult. There are trails that are amazing adventures for our pups in September, but lingering snow, fallen trees and debris, and the mud of late spring and early summer may make some of these trails difficult for some dogs to traverse.

When considering taking your dog on any trail, always read reviews closely, be aware of your dog’s stamina, and adhere to posted leash requirements.

Enjoying some of the dog-friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Co requires some driving.

Rocky Mountains National Park

Much of the area around Grand Lake is part of Rocky Mountain National Park and there is no dog-friendly hiking in the RMNP.

Never Summer Wilderness Area

It should also be noted, online you will find a number of dog-friendly trails that are a part of the nearby Never Summer Wilderness (NSW) Area. Unfortunately, some NSW access points and trailheads nearest Grand Lake are on RMNP property where dogs are not allowed, on or off-leash, at any time. Luckily, Colorful Colorado is overall one of the most dog-friendly states and there is plenty of hiking for pups to be found. 

There are trails to be found

We have done our research and found a couple of dog-friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Co that we know you and your dog will enjoy.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails Near Grand Lake Co

Grand Lake is a wonderful place to visit with your pup.

There are a number of hotels, rental properties, and campgrounds that are dog-friendly, and even two restaurants that welcome dogs on their patios when weather permits. Of course, like most areas in Colorado, it is the great outdoors that is the real draw. And you can those great outdoors with your dog both on-leash and off-leash.

Colorado River and River Run Trail 

Distance4.2-mile loop trail
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain269 ft

Multi-use* and Seasonal
Nearby CampingGreen Ridge Campground, Arapaho National Forest
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

* You and your dog may meet horseback riders, mountain bikers, and four-wheelers on the trail.

Lots of beautiful ponds to hike around, great for kids and dogs.”

Thomas, Trails Reviewer.

Unfortunately, the last few years have been tough ones for this usually popular trail. An infestation and subsequent Mountain Pine Beetle Mitigation Project followed by a forest fire in late June 2018, led to a significant tree and brush clearing and side-trail closures or re-routes. Happily, this once busy trail area is on the mend

The Trail begins near the Grand Lake Golf Course and brings hikers right up to the Colorado River almost at the halfway mark. Along the trail you will encounter a few lovely ponds, blooming with lily pads in early summer.

Like all of Colorado’s open spaces, there is a chance that you will encounter wildlife on this trail. Most notably, moose and fox have been known to be active in the area. Is your dog a breed that will protect you when hiking?

Previously prized as a fantastic spot for bird watching, the hope is that regrowth will bring back the populations of birds that resided here before the 2018 fire. 

The nearest camping to this trail is Green Ridge Campground in Arapaho National Forest. A lovely spot, albeit without much shade, nestled between the Colorado River and Shadow Mountain Dam. Reservations can be made for stays between July 5 and September 1. The campground runs on a first-come-first-serve basis between September 2 and its closing date of October 13. As with most developed areas in National Forests, dogs in the campground must remain on a leash no longer than six feet. 

Lost Lake Trail from Wolverine Bypass

Distance1.8-mile loop trail
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain259 ft

Multi-use and Seasonal
Nearby CampingDenver Creek Campground, Arapaho National Forest
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“Around the lake there were a lot of boulders, so it was hard for our dogs to climb but at one point our pup just got in and swan around to a flat spot. You are supposed to keep your dog on a leash and I would just remind people that this a good idea for multiple reasons. One being we did see Moose. It’s a peaceful hike with very little traffic we only saw 2-3 people.”

Amanda, Alltrails Reviewer.

This trail is a great example of when you need to be cognizant of your own dog’s abilities and limitations.

While many dogs enjoy a bit of a challenge, hopping atop boulders, or swimming around them, may not be something all dogs want to do.

Many reviewers indicated that this trail may be miscategorized as moderately difficult. However, despite its short length, there are some scrambles, steep sections and rock issues that may not be everyone’s (human or canine) cup of tea. 

The consensus according to most reviewers is that the hike itself is beautiful, but the reward for your efforts is the stunning lake at the end.

You may be compelled to reward your pooch with a swim in the lake.

Lost Lake Trail from Wolverine Bypass
Lost Lake Trail from Wolverine Bypass.
The photo was taken by Rebekah P.
Photo Credit: Image shared here with the kind permission of Alltrails.com

A few hikers that reviewed this trail complained of dogs unleashed.

Before allowing your dog off-leash for any reason, consider the risks carefully.  Bears, moose, and mountain lions have all been encountered on this trail. As the crow flies, the trailhead might be eight or ten miles from Grand Lake. But sadly, we don’t yet have that ability and instead have to commit to a 40-mile roundabout drive that takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Grand Lake.

A much more appealing option is grabbing a site at Denver Creek Campground(40.254° N, 106.079°W) in Arapaho National Forest. The best time to grab a site at this first-come-first-serve, 22 site campground is during the week. If you are looking for an open spot on the weekends you will want to get an early start.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails, Estes Park, CO 

This is a 46-mile drive from Grand Lake.

There are a number of dog-friendly hotels in Estes Park, the most notable is The Stanley Hotel, famous for being the inspiration for Steven King’s horror novel The Shining. Before or after hitting any of the trails you and your pooch are welcome to enjoy outdoor seating at eight of the town’s eateries.

Kruger Rock Trail

Distance4.0-mile Out & Back
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain977 ft

Hiking Only and Seasonal
Nearby CampingDispersed camping in Roosevelt National Forest – Coyote Hill Road
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“The best part is that it is dog-friendly. We bring our dog to Estes every year and it is a popular hike for people with pets.”

Igi, Tripadvisor Reviewer.

“Had a blast at Kruger rock will definitely be back to check out the area Estes park is so beautiful we climbed to the very top with our wiener dog and soaked in the views.”

Clevelands Finest, Alltrails Reviewer.

Located in Hermit Park Open Space, there is a fee to enter the park before reaching the trailhead.

This is a great hike when you aren’t making a day of it as it is an out & back of only four miles. Don’t let the short distance fool you, this is a challenging hike for novice hikers and visitors not adjusted to the altitude. With nearly 1000 feet in elevation gain over two miles, you should feel the burn

At the right time of year, a variety of wildflowers decorate the length of the trail.

Expansive views of Estes Valley are encountered from various sections of the trail, while plenty of shade will keep you and your pup cool during the warmer weeks of the year.

The last half-mile of the hike is the most challenging with a rock scramble at the very end. Don’t give up. The view from the top is worth every ounce of the effort.

Lily Mountain Trail

Distance3.6-mile Out & Back
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain1240 ft

Multi-use and Seasonal
Nearby CampingOlive Ridge Campground – Roosevelt National Forest 
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“Some spots in the beginning were exposed rock, so the snowshoes were a little difficult, but they came in handy the rest of the time. It’s a steady incline the whole way and the view at the top was breathtaking. Wow! Our dog had a great time too!”

Candace Sayre, Alltrails Reviewer.

While this trail is rated moderate, the elevation gain is something to be considered. People and pups unaccustomed to activity at this altitude should be prepared for a challenge.

However, as with all the hikes on this list, the reward for your efforts will be grand. Highly regarded as one of the premier spots to see wildflowers at their peak, this trail also delivers expansive views of the surrounding national forest. 

The first half of the hike is relatively easy and traverses mellow terrain.

dog friendly hiking trails near grand lake co
Lily Mountain Trail, Estes Park, Colorado.
The photo was taken by Charlotte Green.
Photo Credit: Image shared here with the kind permission of Alltrails.com

After the halfway mark you will hit the steeper section where elevation gain is almost one thousand feet in just over one mile. With plenty of shady spots for water breaks or a picnic lunch, many dog lovers rate this as one of the best hikes in the area.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails, Granby, CO

It’s a 15-mile drive from Grand Lake.

Like Grand Lake, Granby allows visitors to explore the mountains and partake in water sports on the same day.

Home to Colorado’s second-largest lake, there are many dog-friendly hotels, vacation rentals, and even yurts that provide accommodations for visitors with pups.

Grand Elk Grill is the only restaurant in town that has a patio that welcomes dogs in the warm weather months, but according to reviews, it would be a top pick regardless.

Whether you are just looking for great hiking, or you want to explore other activities as well, Granby has it all. Mountain biking, boating, snowshoeing, or skiing, you will find your bliss in Granby. Of course, it wouldn’t have made this list if it didn’t offer some of the best dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Co.

Doe Creek Trail

Distance7.3-mile loop trail
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain1617 ft

Multi-use and Year-round
Nearby CampingSunset Point Campground, Arapaho National Forest
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“Great spot for the pups. Mostly shaded along the loop.”

Susan – Alltrails Reviewer.

If you are looking to workout, or wear out, for you or your dog, this is the place to do it, for sure.

The data on this one can be a bit misleading at first glance.

Normally, an experienced hiker wouldn’t think that an elevation gain of 1600 feet over 7.3 miles would be that challenging, but most of that elevation gain starts a short distance from the trailhead and requires about 20 minutes of strenuous effort to get through.

Also, by all accounts, the signage at the trailhead and along the trail can be confusing. You should study and print a trail map to make sure you have your bearings before heading out. 

This trail is popular with mountain bikers. Not all dogs appreciate sharing a hike with cyclists.

Another thing to keep in mind when leashing up the pup and heading out to tackle Doe Creek Trail, is that sections of the year-round trail may have enough snow that snowshoeing would be necessary. 

Hikers appreciate this trail for its varying terrain, shady forest sections, and wildflower laden meadows in the summer months.

Monarch Lake Loop Trail

Distance4.2-mile loop trail
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain223 ft

Multi-use and Year-round
Nearby CampingArapaho Bay Campground, Arapaho National Forest
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“Tons of shade for my two dogs (8 years old and 2 years old) who were both easily able to navigate the trail. Plenty of spots where the inlets to the lake pass over the trail so they were able to get wet and stay cool.”

Val – All Trails Reviewer.

Monarch Lake Loop Trail is one of the easier, therefore busier, dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Colorado. For that reason, it is best to get an early start if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet that this gorgeous lake hike provides.

hiking with dogs near grand lake colorado
Monarch Lake Loop Trail, Granby Colorado.
The photo was taken by Alla Gill.
Photo Credit: Image shared here with the kind permission of Alltrails.com.

It is ideal for families and pups of all ages and abilities with only a slight elevation gain. Encounters with moose in the area are not unheard of and keeping your dog leashed is advisable even if you want to give them a chance to cool off in the creeks that pass over the trail.

Also, it is recommended that you carry a pair of snowshoes if you want to attempt this hike between October and mid-May. 

The cascading waterfalls, created by snowmelt, that appear in the late spring and early summers are a great addition to the lush forested trail and intermittent lake views.

Wildlife is very active in the area. Many people enjoy bird watching along the trail and finding secluded spots for shore fishing.

Of course, as with most of the trails in the area, a kaleidoscope of wildflowers makes for stunning photo ops in summer. 

Tabernash, CO

It’s a 26-mile drive from Grand Lake, Colorado.

People travel from all over to visit Tabernash.

In addition to the outdoor adventures that all of the small towns in this area provide, Tabernash has a number of guest ranches where you can get an insider’s view of life on a working ranch.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa is one such ranch that offers limited dog-friendly cabins as accommodation.

One of the dog-friendly cabins available at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa

On the Devil’s Thumb property there are eight miles of dog-friendly hiking trails and you can even take skijoring lessons with your pooch.

Skijoring at Devils Thumb Ranch
Skijoring at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa.
Photo Credit: shared with the kind permission of the Devils Thumb Ranch, Colorado.

If you think this might sound like a place you and your pup might enjoy, remember, this is an actual working ranch with livestock and a leash is required at all times. If the ranch life isn’t your cup of tea, fantastic hikes in Tabernash have the added benefit of designated camping along the trail. 

Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake

Distance16.3-mile Out & Back
DifficultyModerate
Elevation gain2335 ft

Multi-use and Seasonal
Nearby CampingPermits required for designated camping spots along the trail June thru September
On/Off Leash trailOn-leash

“Great trail. My dog had a great time jumping in and out of the water.”

Emily – Trails Reviewer.

Unlike other dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Colorado, Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake is a full-day or multi-day commitment.

The full round trip is certainly not for all dogs, or people for that matter.

However, with a permit, you can make a weekend of the excursion and grab one of the designated campsites along the trail. Many reviewers of this trail stress that the permits sell out quickly, planning is required, and this is not a great choice for a spur of the moment excursion. 

Many dog owners prefer instead to tackle the first half of the trail with their pups. Unfortunately, turning around at the halfway mark will prevent you from seeing the aptly named Mirror Lake, but gorgeous waterfalls, wildflowers, and a lovely shaded 8-mile out & back constitute a solid day hike for you and your dogs.

Related Questions

Are dogs allowed on the AA Barn trail near Grand Lake?

I didn’t find any useful information about the AA Barn Trail (see links below). It isn’t listed with All Trails which is a go-to for hikers. I have a feeling it may be more of a walk than anything that would be recognized as a hike. 

http://www.mountainmongrels.com/dog-friendly-hikes-in-grand-lake.html
http://www.mountaintravelguide.com/Colorado/Grand/Hiking/GrandHiking.htm
https://www.rei.com/campgrounds/camp/115196581/cutthroat-bay-group
https://forestcamping.com/dow/rockymtn/arapcmp.htm

Is the Lost Lake trail from Wolverine Bypass a dog friendly trail? 

Yes it is and it is one of the most popular dog friendly hiking trails near Grand Lake Colorado.

Where To Next?

We’ve covered a slither of the dog-friendly hiking opportunities in Colorado, let alone the whole of the U.S.A. Would you like to know where else you can hike with your trusty canine companion?

Check out our epic guides below. We’ll be adding to the list as time goes on but here’s what we have right now.

DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING GUIDES
Name and link to the articleState covered
Can You Hike With Dogs In National Parks?Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Utah, Maine and Virginia
Top Rated Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails Near Grand Lake CoColorado
Hiking With Dogs Off-Leash in Colorado (15 Epic Hikes)Colorado

Enjoy your next adventure!

Author - Eileen

Eileen is dog mom to 2 Shetland Sheepdogs - Shellie and her pup Bernie. They enjoy a couple of walks each day plus 2-3 sessions with the frisbee or Chuck-it! She enjoys many road trips with her dogs. She has tent camped all over the U.S. The dogs love exploring new hiking trails. Regardless of the season, Eileen has plenty to share with you about outdoor dog life whether it's in the Rockies in winter, Massachusetts in the summer or Oregon and Minnesota in between. She loves to find new off-leash parks while traveling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content