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5 Hikes to See Fall Foliage in Aspen

The most colorful season.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Aspen, Colorado gets so meta in the fall, when its namesake tree splashes the mountains and valleys with brilliant shades of yellow and orange. Apart from the spectacular show—which is absolutely worth seeing on its own—fall is a magical time of year to be in the mountains. The crush of summer has passed, the trails empty (especially during the week!), and hotels drop their rates for that sweet season before the ski mountain opens.

If you make your way to Aspen, we're sure you won't be disappointed. Peak foliage is a little hard to predict, as it changes from year to year, but it's usually the third and fourth week of September in this part of Colorado.

Here are five of our favorite hikes to find that golden color in Aspen.

Adventure by Eric Schuette

Sometimes the reward is in the challenge, but on the quick-and-easy 1.8-mile hike to Crater Lake, it's almost all reward. You'll only need to climb 500 feet to reach this clear alpine that boasts views of the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak.

Adventure by Mike Fennell

Weave through bright aspen trees on this 10-mile hike from Aspen to Snowmass. The trail begins with a steep ascent then, after reaching the top of Buttermilk Ski Area, climbs gently all the way to Snowmass. Either arrange with a buddy in advance to drop a car at the far end, or take the free shuttle back to Aspen.

Adventure by Jennifer Broome

Short, sweet, and a killer workout for the legs and lungs...that's the Ute Trail. Climb a little over 1,000 feet in a mile to reach a rock outcropping with panoramic views of the Aspen valley below. You'll not only be surrounded by changing trees, but the town itself will be awash with autumn colors, too.

Adventure by Eric Schuette

The Maroon Bells are some of the most iconic mountains in Colorado, and seeing them in the fall is the icing on the cake. Aspens are one of—though not the only—tree that changes on the sweeping slopes that rise from Maroon Lake. You won't get a lot of solitude at Maroon Lake, but you might be too busy gaping at the scenery to notice.

Adventure by Kyle Frost

There is a little bit of extra planning required to enjoy a night at Conundrum Hot Springs, but it's worth every moment. This 18-mile round-trip backpack leads to two hot springs with incredible views. In the fall, pass through stands of glowing aspen as you climb to the 16 campsites that are available by reservation only. 

Cover photo by Mike Fennell

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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