Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the Aspen Snowmass area offers quick and easy access to varied hiking terrain. Home to some of the most scenic spots in the state, this area is loaded with amazing hiking opportunities for hikers of all levels.
While you can hike all year long, the months between mid-June and September are optimal for hiking as most of the snow has melted and the temperatures are warm. July is wildflower season so hikers can peep these beautiful blooms in mid-summer, but afternoon thunderstorms make venturing about the higher elevations dangerous later in the day. The monsoon season will have dissipated by August for more calm and stable afternoon hiking weather, and September will begin the turning of the aspen leaves for a jaw-dropping experience set in fields of gold.
Local Tip: Hiking is popular here, so be prepared. This means planning ahead for any necessary permits or reservations and leaving early in the day, before sunrise, to beat the crowds.
BEST BEGINNER HIKES IN ASPEN SNOWMASS
These hikes are great for almost everyone including families with young children or visitors struggling with the altitude.
AJAX Trail is an easy hike that crosses the front side of Aspen Mountain. This trail skirts the base of the mountain and offers stunning views of the town.
Local Tip: Hike this trail in the evening for a more shaded adventure.
Rio Grande Trail
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 a long, generally flat trail connecting Aspen to Glenwood Springs that makes for an easy hike as you can turn around at any point and head back to where you started.
Local Tip: The Roaring Fork Transit Authority also offers transportation back to Aspen with stops on the route if you don't want to hike out and back.
For a unique experience that's a favorite of locals, this is one of the best easy hikes in Aspen for exploring. This short but dramatic trail offers hikers an amazing glimpse of waterfalls, boulder gardens, and strange rock formations along the Roaring Fork River.
Local Tip: Springtime often means a high runoff which can make sections of the trail dangerous.
Maroon Bells Scenic Trail
Probably the most popular trail at Maroon Bells, even with the locals, this hike runs along the cascades of Maroon Creek and offers incredible views. Further down the loop, the trail winds past beautiful cascades before turning back towards Maroon Lake.
Local Tip: Advanced reservations are needed to park or ride the shuttle to the trailhead from May through October.
This beautiful hike through the Aspen groves culminates with an epic panorama of the snow-dusted Maroon Peak looming above the alpine lake. Revel in the sights of the picturesque beauty of the peak and the crystal waters.
Local Tip: The terrain is often snow-packed, so you may want to bring snowshoes in early spring and fall.
The Brush Creek Trail is the main artery of the Snowmass Village Paved Trail System. Use the Brush Creek Trail to access Base Village, the Village Mall, the Village Center, Anderson Ranch Art Center, and the Snowmass Chapel, or descend approximately 2.5 miles to The Snowmass Village Recreation Center.
Local Tip: Dogs must be leashed at all times on this popular trail.
Often used with Lowline Trail as a short but fun loop, this trail works best when traveled counterclockwise. Enjoy views of the Village while traveling through Oak Mountain Shrublands.
Local Tip: This is a great hike for folks with only an hour or so to dedicate who are looking for great views.
BEST INTERMEDIATE HIKES IN ASPEN SNOWMASS
Best for hikers with some experience or those looking for a bit of a workout, these hikes are worth the extra effort.
Smuggler Mountain Road
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.
Local Tip: Those looking for a longer hike can continue up to Smuggler Open Space ordrop down into the Hunter Creek Valley and loop around to connect with the Hunter Creek Trail.
Crater Lake Trail
Take this beautiful hike to reach the base of the bells. A popular trail, the trail winds through a forest of aspens into rocky terrain and ends at Crater Lake. Revel in the breathtaking views of the bells as they reflect off the crystal waters.
Local Tip: The trail is family-friendly, but it might be more challenging for some. Stick to easier trails for younger children or those looking for a less challenging hike.
North Fork Trail
The gorgeous North Fork Trail is a true hidden gem as it affords exceptional views without the heavy crowds of other more popular trails. The trail takes hikers through a broad valley to Fryingpan Pass in the Mount Massive Wilderness where they can enjoy stunning alpine landscapes.
Local Tip: A more challenging hike, the last 1/2 mile up to the lake is the steepest incline of the trek.
Located in Woody Creek, this lesser-known dirt trail is ideal for those looking to avoid the crowds for a quieter hiking experience.
Local Tip: This trail is not pet friendly. Please leave dogs at home.
Sierra Club Trail
Local Tip: Bikes are not allowed.
BEST ADVANCED HIKES
Best for experienced hikers and those looking for a more strenuous hike with steeper inclines, greater altitude gain, and more difficult terrain.
Arguably one of the most stunning trails in the country, the Ute Trail is full of switchbacks and challenges along with a steep climb. Once you reach the summit, however, the view is unbeatable.
Local Tip: There is a free gondola ride down the mountain if you are looking to save your knees.
Conundrum Creek Trail
An all-time hike with an incredible hot springs and expansive aspen-filled views. Many visitors make the hike a 2-day event, but permits are required for overnight camping so be prepared.
Local Tip: A huge 2019 avalanche hit this area and hiking through the avalanche field is an incredible sight.
East Snowmass Trail
Ideal for strong hikers looking to avoid the crowds from Maroon Lake, this hike is another hidden gem that leads into the heart of Maroon Bells. Guests can enjoy exceptional views across the Willow Lake basin and a line of peaks across the Elk Range.
Local Tip: Camping is limited due to steep terrain.
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