Check back each season to learn about great wildflower hikes, waterfall hikes, hikes with a lake, hikes for the fall and great snowshoe trails!
get ready, leaf peepers!
It's never too early to begin planning some amazing fall hikes when the aspens start to change. Mid-September to early October is generally the peak season, but Mother Weather is ultimately in charge. Keep an eye on the local weather reports and they will keep you up-to-date. Here are some of my favorite fall color hikes in Colorado:
1. Maroon Bells in Aspen, CO is a premier spot for aspen viewing, but you need to plan ahead and get shuttle reservations. While you're in the area, drive down Castle Creek Canyon drive too. American Lake and Cathedral Lake trails have huge aspen groves! Both of these trails are on the steep side, but have a gorgeous payoff. Neither need reservations, so unlike Maroon Bells, you don't have to plan ahead for these.
2. Kenosha Pass along 285 is always a beautiful spot for leaf peeping! The Colorado Trail runs through here and the Kenosha Pass North trail has stunning aspen groves. If you can avoid this area on a weekend, you will save yourself lots of time in the car!
3. Abyss Lake Trail is off Guanella Pass, which is always a great drive. As of September 26th, this trail is peaking, but Guanella Pass has a lot of color left to come. The aspens begin about 2 miles in - you don't need to hike all the way to Abyss or Helms Lake to see the aspens here!
4. Meridian Trail in Bailey is a nice hike that is way less crowded than Abyss. There is a mile-long stretch of amazing aspens along this trail after you hike in about 1.5-2 miles.
6. The drive from Twin Lakes to Aspen over Independence Pass is always beautiful and there are many places to pull over and view the aspens along this route. The Interlaken Trail at Twin Lakes is another trail worth hiking! At the Twin Lakes campground, there is a 4wd road that leads to the trailhead to Mt. Elbert; this road and the first mile or so of the trail to Mt. Elbert are also lined with HUGE aspens, so if you are in this area with a high-clearance vehicle, check it out.
7. Acorn Creek Loop trail and the Ptarmigan Trail in Silverthorne are two easier hikes that have great aspens. Summit County is usually on fire with color, if Mother Nature doesn't blow down the leaves with early wind or snow.
8. Black Bear & Horseshoe Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park come into color later than Guanella pass and the aspen area, generally, but are great trails for a lot of fall colors. The aspens are mostly along Horseshoe and in Fraser Meadow; Black Bear is a great hike, but not as many trees.
9. Looking for a drive? The Peak to Peak highway has lots of aspens to view and places to enjoy the trees without a big hike!
10. If you are in the Vail area, hike the ski trails or explore Booth Falls! Strawberry Lane to Berry Picker have great aspen groves and Booth Falls (or continue to Booth Lake) also has spectacular trees along the way! Both Gore and Pitkin Lake also have aspens along the trail, but these trails are significantly more difficult.