Hiking in Aspen is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the area, and enjoying a day hike is a great way to appreciate the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains that surround our location in the Roaring Fork Valley. Our condominium hotel’s convenient location in downtown Aspen means hiking will be right out your front door on your next vacation. Explore some of our favorite trails below.
Best Hiking in Aspen, Colorado
DOWNTOWN ASPEN HIKING TRAILS
Hiking options found just outside of downtown Aspen include the Rio Grande Trail, the Smuggler Loop, Ute Trail, and Sunnyside Trail.
The Rio Grande Trail is an easy, undulating hike along the Roaring Fork River, and it is paved for the majority of its 43 miles.
- The Smuggler Loop is a popular hike that starts at the base of Smuggler Mountain and ends at the Hunter Creek Trailhead. It is a moderate uphill hike that offers beautiful views of the town of Aspen, the four ski areas, and the Roaring Fork Valley. Easy access is one of the many reasons Smuggler is popular with locals and visitors alike. Learn more about the Smuggler trail network.
- The Ute Trail is a short and strenuous hike that winds part of the way up Aspen Mountain. It includes steep portions and switchbacks through meadow and wooded areas. Hikers can trek to the top of the Ute Trail for breathtaking views of the city of Aspen, or continue up to the top of Aspen Mountain—whose summit registers at 11,212 feet—to enjoy a well-deserved break and lunch at the Sundeck Restaurant. Hikers can descend the mountain via the Silver Queen Gondola.
- Sunnyside Trail connects Red Mountain to the Hunter Creek valley. It is 10 miles long and considered an intermediate hike. Enjoy stunning views of Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen Highlands ski area, Aspen Mountain, Pyramid Peak and Mount Sopris in the distance. As its name indicates, the trail is in direct sunshine most of the day, so this hike is the most enjoyable in the early morning, late afternoon, and evening.
CASTLE CREEK VALLEY HIKES
A hike up to a high alpine lake is a truly rewarding experience, and nestled in the mountains that surround the city of Aspen are some of the most scenic alpine lakes in the state. A short drive up Castle Creek Road brings hikers to the trailheads of Cathedral Lake and American Lake. Both alpine lakes are situated at approximately 11,000 feet, presenting an idyllic setting for an alpine picnic.
- Cathedral Lake is an intermediate to difficult level trail. A 2.8-mile one-way hike to a scenic lake, the trail winds through open meadows and peaceful forests on the way to the lake. Learn more about hiking to Cathedral Lake.
- American Lake is an intermediate hike to another lovely lake. It is 3.2 miles one-way to reach the lake. Learn more about hiking to American Lake.
INDEPENDENCE PASS HIKES
Exploring Independence Pass is a must during your Aspen vacation. There are numerous hikes that range from easy to difficult. Trailheads are easily accessible via parking in designated lots on Highway 82 as you drive up towards the Pass.
- For an easy hike to an alpine lake, the peaceful hike to Weller Lake is the perfect length at only 1.2 miles round trip. Weller Lake is a great family hiking destination for all ages.
- Lost Man Loop is a fantastic high-altitude hike, with its highest point at 12,800 feet. At just under 9 miles, the Lost Man hike begins at either the Linkins Lake Trailhead or the Lost Man Trailhead, since hikers begin or end the loop at either trailhead. The trail leads to both Linkins Lake and Lost Man Reservoir, both being exceptional spots to enjoy lunch and take a break. Lost Man can also be explored as an out and back hike to reduce the length to whatever is fitting for your group.
- Midway Pass Trail can be accessed from the Lost Man Trailhead, and is a shorter alternative hike compared to the Lost Man Loop. Follow the beginning of the Lost Man Trail as it heads west over a wood bridge. Just beyond the bridge, there is a junction where Lost Man continues straight and there is a left turn towards Midway Pass. The Midway Trail climbs up a forested hillside with 18 switchbacks that gradually ascend up to a wet meadow with willow patches above the treeline, affording stunning views of the surrounding mountains and a little glacial pond – the perfect spot to enjoy a snack before heading back down.
For additional information on any of these Aspen area hikes, Aspen Square guests can call the Aspen Square Condominium Hotel concierge at (866) 285-7876 ext. 3515, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Non-guests can contact the Aspen Chamber Resort Association by calling (970) 925-1940.