Of all the hikes I’ve done in Colorado, Chief Mountain is my favorite. This 3-mile, snowy hike in Colorado’s Front Range stretches above the tree line to 11,709 ft and offers a truly 360-degree panoramic view of the nearby mountains. The hillsides are covered with dense alpine forests and gradually becomes covered in thick layers of snow near the peak. It’s incredible to be surrounded by mountains and seeing the Colorado Rockies from such a high vantage point.
Chief Mountain is about one hour west of Denver and the trailhead is right off of Squaw Pass Road. The drive there offers great scenic views as you drive towards Mt Evans.
The hike itself is only 3 miles round trip with about 1,000 ft in elevation gain. It does start at 10,723 at the trailhead and reaches an elevation of 11,709 at the peak, but the climb felt gradual so it wasn’t too difficult.
The trail starts immediately on snow and ascends steadily into the thick pine forest. It zig-zags through the trees and occasionally veers out into a clearing to give us a view of the endless layers of mountains. In some areas, the snow is so deep that we saw footsteps sank at least three feet under!
About halfway into the hike, we came across a viewpoint that overlooks the trees below and mountains in the distance. It was astounding to only see snowcapped mountain peaks along the horizon, and nothing else.
The wind really picked up after we cleared the tree line and the landscape turned into a rocky terrain. It got pretty cold with blowing snow, so I had to pull on my hood and fully zip up to stay warm. But we pressed on and followed the faint footprints towards the peak.
We thought the wind was harsh on the hike up, but man, it got real windy at the tippy top of Chief Mountain.
The views from the summit were spectacular. It was a clear day and we had a truly 360-degree view of the landscape below. We were completely surrounded by mountains and could see for miles into the distance where entire mountains were covered in snow.
Despite being so windy, we stayed at the summit for about 20 minutes snapping photos and taking in the nature around us. It was such an amazing view and I definitely had a moment where everything felt so surreal.
Having done a handful of hikes in Denver and probably the most popular ones, Chief Mountain is by far my favorite hike and offers the most stunning views. I would highly recommend this hike if you had to pick one. You won’t regret it.