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5 Best Trail Runs in Aspen

Posted: 25 Sep 2019

Just about every Aspen local, as well as seasoned visitors, have a favorite trail. With an abundance of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Roaring Fork Valley, there are some ideal routes for long, picture-perfect runs with some serious ascents and descents.

The fall season is the time to try out some of our favorite Aspen trail runs. With the aspen trees changing color, the golden-clad panoramas are unbeatable. Here are some of the top trail runs in and around Aspen.

1. Hunter Creek Valley

With two main access points from the town of Aspen, Hunter Creek Valley offers an extensive trail system with routes for all skill levels. Runners can make their way up the Hunter Creek Trail to the west of the valley or trek up Smuggler Mountain Road (a dirt fire road). Once in the valley, runners can opt for a variety of routes throughout the area.

The valley separates two parallel ridges covered in aspen groves. The open meadow offers great views of the surrounding Elk Mountains, and trails meander near a few historic mining cabins. Accessing the Hunter Creek Valley during the fall is commonly rewarded with time spent among the golden-colored aspen groves.

2. Sunnyside

Beginning at Cemetery Lane, this trail climbs more than 2,000 feet. From the highest point, runners are rewarded with views of all four ski mountains and the Maroon Bells. After the 6.3-mile one-way trail, runners have the option to traverse Red Mountain and connect with a number of trails in the Hunter Creek Valley. There is also the option to run along the Rio Grande Trail back to your starting location.

3. Government Trail

The popular mountain biking trail beginning in Snowmass and ending in Buttermilk, is often enjoyed by trail runners who take it in the opposite direction (Buttermilk to Snowmass). The reverse route gradually ascends and then transitions to quick up and down terrain.

With 6.6 miles of singletrack trail, Government offers runners the chance to run through wildflower fields and shaded aspen groves. If you are too tired to turn around and make it back to the base of Buttermilk Mountain, you can always hop on the bus from Snowmass Base Village back to your starting point.

4. Crater Lake/East Snowmass Creek Trail

For a 10-mile out and back run, East Snowmass Creek Trail is a good option. The gently sloping eastern edges of the Maroon Creek valley offer good views of Pyramid Peak. Running this route in the summer offers breathtaking wildflowers, and the fall gives runners great lookout points of the golden aspen trees.

Runners can continue along the path to East Maroon Pass, then on to Copper Basin, and eventually to Crested Butte. The run / hike from the Maroon Bells to Crested Butte is popular during the summer months among overnight campers.

5. Conundrum Creek Trail

With the reward of natural hot springs, the Conundrum Creek Trail is well worth the 2,500 vertical feet climb over 9 miles. During summer months, runners can expect meadows of wildflowers and shaded groves of aspen trees. However, the trail is gorgeous in the fall season, as it is filled with the golden turned-aspen trees.

The view from the furthest point, Conundrum Hot Springs, offers amazing views of the valley runners have just completed.

Join us in Aspen!

If you're inspired to take on some of these trail runs, contact the Frias Properties Reservations Team to book your Aspen lodging.