Amy Angelilli loves time spent outside (we do too!), so she’s sharing her favorite Colorado lake hikes to help your romance bloom as the wildflowers do.
Oh Colorado, I love to love you when the weather turns warm and the wildflowers start poking out. It’s the perfect season to bring romance into the wilderness and next to your lake of choice. One of my favorite warm weather dates is a scenic hike coupled with a picnic by the lake. Throw a local brew into the mix and it takes a promise of some fun between the sheets to lure me back to the city.
Here are five of my favorite lake experiences for a quick couples escape:
Location: 156 miles west of Denver
Nearby city: Glenwood Springs
Length: 1.2 miles one-way
Skill level: (Very) strenuous
I climbed to Hanging Lake as part of a pit stop between Aspen and Denver International Airport when my friend was visiting from the East Coast. Needless to say, my friend almost missed his flight as it took me so long to get up—and back down—this series of steps. As I was struggling, I thanked the universe that I was with a male friend rather than a date as my inability to catch my breath was less than sexy.
However, if you’re really fit—and your date is too—this is a gorgeous getaway with a massive payoff at the top. The green-blue color of the lake is awe-inspiring and the waterfall (instead of the climb) will take your breath away. Word of caution, start very early in the morning as the trail fills up with families and there’s nothing less romantic than seeing groups of small children run circles around you and your date.
Location: 51 miles northwest of Denver
Nearby city: Ward
Length: varies depending on the trail
Skill level: varies depending on the trail
As a gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, there’s one thing to be said about Brainard Lake: views, views and more views! Besides the abundant wilderness, there are several alpine lakes and a small glacier. And, there are a number of trails with varying lengths and difficulty, so you can return again and again and always have a fresh perspective.
Pack a picnic as once your hike ends, Brainard becomes the perfect place to relax for the remainder of the day. If you’re lucky, you may just spot some moose!
Location: 79 miles northwest of Denver
Nearby city: Estes Park
Length: 0.8 miles
Skill level: easy
There’s a reason Bear Lake Loop is so popular! Tucked away in Rocky Mountain National Park, nine miles from the turn-off at Highway 36, Bear Lake is a cozy getaway that makes you instantly forget that you woke up in the city earlier in the day.
In order to avoid crowds, and to shoot the best couples photos, go early. If you’re worried that you’ll get stuck in the crowds, killing the romantic vibe, don’t. After your hike you can go to a less crowded area of the park for a picnic or even a little smooching.
Evergreen Park & Recreation District
Location: 29 miles southwest of Denver
Nearby city: Evergreen
Length: 1.25 miles
Skill level: easy
This is the perfect place to sneak off to when you only have time for a quickie—a quickie nature walk! The views are lovely from every side of the lake, and, if you want to make it really romantic, go in the evening. The kids will have gone home and you can take in the sunset as well as a picnic dinner. If you really want to get some quiet space to only focus on each other, rent a canoe and practice your serenading skills!
Location: 81 miles west of Denver
Nearby city: Breckenridge
Length: 1.5 miles round trip
Skill level: easy
I love this area for so many reasons! One, you can park in downtown Breckenridge and walk to the Sawmill Trailhead which is located at the Snowflake Lift, near the intersection of Four O’clock Road and Kings Crown Road. Two, it’s filled with shade. Three, it’s like a little secret gem that winds around a creek with the ski lift above it. Climb a few steps and you come out onto a small reservoir that many people don’t even realize exists!
When I go to Breckenridge for the weekend in the summertime, as soon as I empty the car I’m on the Sawmill Trail ready to do a little Friday evening meditation next to the reservoir. It’s the perfect spot to wash off the stresses of the city—and the traffic along Route 70—and prepare for a weekend of mindfully connecting with yourself, with nature and with your partner. Who said hiking dates have to be one day only?
[Image: via Dita Margarita on Flickr]