Aspen is an excellent destination during the fall season because of its gorgeous autumnal colors and great weather. Going out on foot is one of the best ways to truly experience the area's beauty this season. Fall hiking is a treat with fewer crowds, crisp autumn air, and breathtaking fields of gold along the mountainside.
There are many options available for hiking in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley that vary in difficulty. While several of our suggestions are geared toward those looking for more challenging trails, we’ve also given options if you are looking for shorter, easier walks. Regardless of where you decide to venture, you are sure to be awarded with spectacular scenery and a fantastic Aspen experience.
Here are our favorite trail recommendations for fall:
CATHEDRAL LAKE TRAIL
(5.4 miles out and back)
This route is particularly stunning in the fall as it winds through groves of aspens before climbing high up into the valley, where you can take in the amazing view of Castle Creek Valley with its blanket of seasonal color. The switchbacks make the last part of the trails more challenging, but do not be discouraged, as the view of the emerald green waters of Cathedral Lake at the end is well worth the trek.
(16.8 miles out and back)
If you take this challenging trail, you’ll be rewarded with the views of Capitol Creek as your constant companion throughout the hike. At the end of the rugged dirt road are majestic views of Capitol Peak, with miles of golden aspens showcasing its beauty. The area has become more popular over the past few years, but it is a favorite of adventurous hikers.
AMERICAN LAKE TRAIL
(6.8 miles out and back)
This shorter hike ascends steep switchbacks through colorful aspen groves, forests, and meadows to American Lake. The views are pristine, with forests and wildflower-filled meadows, while the hike itself is a good workout and perfect for acclimating to more challenging trails.
(8.9 miles out and back)
With aspen-ringed meadows of gold and alpine meadow backdrops, this trail is a popular one amongst locals and visitors in the fall. The hike features scenic bridges over Hunter Creek and breathtaking scenery throughout, with beautiful views of the forest, river, wildflowers, and wildlife. This hike can be made shorter by turning around at any of the scenic destinations along the way. You can also extend it connecting it to other nearby trails like Smuggler. Additional information is available at Aspen Trail Finder.
(3.5 miles out and back)
This moderately difficult trail winds through a beautiful aspen grove before winding up at Crater Lake. This stunning alpine lake is nestled in the center of Maroon Valley, with sister mountains Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak rounding out the views for a picturesque end to your hiking efforts.
(3.1 miles from the trailhead to the Sundeck)
Generally considered a challenging hike, the Ute Trail takes you through dense foliage and a blanket of autumnal aspen trees as you navigate the many switchbacks. This is a technical trail with falling rock hazards, but the adventurous will find a payoff in a stunning panorama of Aspen from the rocky outcropping of Ute Rock.
MAROON BELLS SCENIC LOOP
(1.9 mile loop)
The Maroon Bells are by far the most photographed lake in Colorado–for good reason. This hike makes everyone’s list of recommendations due to its accessibility and awe-dropping beauty. While it stuns any time of year, the changing leaves make this hike particularly swoon-worthy in the fall.
CONUNDRUM CREEK TRAIL
(16.9 miles out and back)
An epic day trip, the Conundrum Creek Trail is popular due to it leading to the well-known Conundrum Hot Springs. However, you don’t have to partake in the hot springs to reap the rewards of this trail. The hike heads through autumnal aspen groves, exquisite meadows, and a roaring creek with awe-inspiring views of the mountains. Hike and climb to the end, or simply wander through the open meadows looking for local wildlife while taking in the scenery. You can choose your own adventure with this popular trail.
(10.8 miles out and back)
Climb thousands of feet in elevation through beautiful aspen groves with stunning views of the mountains and surrounding valley, Sunnyside Trail is a great place to start your Aspen fall adventures. Because the trail receives some of the last light in the valley, it makes for a breathtaking afternoon hike with views of all four Aspen Snowmass mountains and the surrounding fourteeners.
(20.4 miles out and back)
This trail between Aspen and Snowmass is a classic hike through evergreen forests, aspen groves, and alpine meadows. Look for local wildlife amongst the beauty of the displays of autumn foliage and flowered meadows while enjoying this amazing hike through the woods.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO ASPEN THIS FALL
Aspen is the ideal destination for a vacation any time of year, but Fall offers its own rewards.
At Aspen Square, we offer the convenience of walking to the mountains, hiking trails, downtown restaurants, shopping, and special events. We are located just a block from the main free skier bus terminal which will take you to Buttermilk, Snowmass, or Aspen Highlands, with the Aspen Mountain gondola situated only one block away.
Explore our Aspen condo rentals to view our available rentals and start planning your fall vacation. Call (970) 925-1000 and let us help you get your vacation started, or contact Aspen Square’s Reservations desk (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need assistance booking your stay with us.