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From Easy Trails to Leg-Burning Ascents, Aspen Offers It All

Aspen offers incredible hiking, whether you’re embarking from your downtown vacation rental in search of quaking Aspen trees or venturing farther afield to see high-alpine lakes and above-treeline scenery. There are plenty of trails to choose from, with pitches for a leisurely stroll or a leg-burning trek. Here are few of our favorite Aspen hikes. For more information, request our full Aspen Hiking Guide from our concierge at (970) 429-2449.


Download local guides and map Aspen trails on your mobile device. Here are two apps we recommend to our guests:

  • Aspen Trail Finder – This comprehensive trail index covers Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Redstone and Marble. With trail distances and difficulties noted, this app is a great resource for mapping out your Aspen adventure. More info >>
  • Pitkin Outside – This app showcases nearly 1,000 miles of trails and 250 points of interest in and around Aspen. Search for hiking, biking and horseback riding trails; picnic areas; parks; fishing access and more. More info >>


If this is your first visit to Aspen, visit the iconic Maroon Bells, the most photographed place in Colorado. Stroll around Maroon Lake or hike up to Crater Lake (3.6 miles roundtrip).

GETTING THERE: Reservations are required to access Maroon Bells Scenic Area and can be made on Car traffic is restricted during peak summer months between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. During these hours, there is bus service between Aspen Highlands and Maroon Bells Scenic Area. For more information, see our guide to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area.


These hikes are all located close to downtown Aspen and are perfect for visitors looking to venture into the scenic wildness without traveling too far. If you’re looking for a bigger adventure, we have tons of suggestions! And if you are visiting during a peak summer or fall week, we have compiled ideas about The Best Alternative Hikes to Aspen Classics so that you can avoid the crowds. Contact our Concierge for more information.

  1. SMUGGLER MOUNTAIN ROAD (moderate) – Originating from the east end of town, Smuggler Mountain Road steadily climbs 1.2 miles to a lookout deck with views of town, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. The road is frequented by hikers with dogs and mountain bikers. For those looking for some extra mileage, continue up to Smuggler Open Space or drop down into the Hunter Creek Valley and loop around to connect with the Hunter Creek Trail.

  2. HUNTER CREEK (moderate) – Also starting close to town on the north side of Aspen, the shaded trail gradually climbs alongside the creek with bridge crossings and lots of photo opportunities. Hikers emerge into the Hunter Creek Valley, a wide alpine meadow with aspen groves, abandoned homestead cabins and beaver dams in the creek.

  3. RIO GRANDE TRAIL (easy) – Flanking the Roaring Fork River, the trail begins at No Problem Bridge just off Main Street at Original Curve. With a gentle grade, the Rio Grande is great for walking, jogging and biking and continues all the way to Glenwood Springs with some paved sections and some dirt sections.

  4. SUNNYSIDE (moderate) – Known for its dramatic views of the four ski areas, town and Independence Pass, this trail takes hikers up switchbacks passing by water ditches until they reach the edge of Red Mountain. This hike is typically a there-and-back route, but some ambitious hikers continue along Red Mountain and connect to the Hunter Creek trail system to head back into town (approx. 10 miles).

  5. UTE TRAIL (difficult) – As one of the closest hikes to town, the Ute Trail starts on Ute Avenue and steadily climbs 1,000 vertical feet in 0.9 miles. The terminus rewards hikers with a spectacular view from the rock outcropping. Feeling ambitious? Continue all the way up Aspen Mountain and ride the gondola down! 

  6. EAST OF ASPEN TRAIL (easy) – Winding 3.1 miles along the Roaring Fork River southeast of Aspen, this peaceful trail is great for a leisurely walk or bike ride. Stop along the points of interest stands to spot wildlife and learn about the ecology of the Northstar Nature Preserve.
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