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Top 10 Trails for Fall Hiking in Colorado | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog

Top 10 Trails for Fall Hiking in Colorado | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog


hiking trail in the mountains during fall

Hike Colorado in the autumn months to witness the infamously colorful fall foliage. When the aspens turn in Colorado the bright autumn colors are spectacular. There are countless fall hikes to choose from if you’re on the hunt for the infamous yellow, orange, and red leaves, but this list contains ten of the best. Remember that fall comes quickly in the mountains. September and October are often great times to see the leaves change, but don’t put off your fall hiking until later in the season when temperatures have cooled down and the bright leaves are covering the ground.

1. Mt. Bierstadt, Georgetown

The drive up Guanella Pass to reach Mt. Bierstadt is stunning, and the hike up Colorado’s “easiest” fourteener is an excellent way to see the aspens. Begin this 7-mile round-trip hike at the Guanella Pass Trailhead. If you don’t feel like summiting, simply follow the trail until you’re ready to turn around. The views and colors will still be worthwhile.

2. Piney River Falls, Vail

This 5-mile round-trip journey is one of the many ways to experience Vail’s fantastic foliage. It’s an easy to moderate fall hike that terminates at the gentle cascade of Piney River Falls. Follow the signs toward Upper Piney Lake and enjoy the colors. You’ll have expansive views of the impressive Gore Range, too. To get there, head to Piney River Ranch at 700 Red Sandstone Road, Vail, CO 81657. The ranch itself is private property but there’s public parking available outside the entrance.

3. Elk Falls Overlook, Pine

This trail can be found in Colorado’s newest state park, Staunton State Park. Find the park at 12102 South Elk Creek Road, Pine, CO 80470 and get ready to enjoy the leaves. It’s a 10.8-mile round-trip trek that will be filled with changing aspens: yellow, orange, and possibly even red if you visit at the right time. Plus, the proximity to Denver is great for anyone living in the city.

4. First Flatiron, Boulder

Boulder might not be on the top of most fall hiking lists, but it’s a great option for hikers who want to stay close to Denver and Boulder. Hiking the First Flatiron is a 2.9-mile round trip hike that’s fairly difficult. Once you’re at the top you’ll be rewarded with views across the Continental Divide, and you’ll hopefully see a colorful fall display across the mountains. You won’t be in the aspens, but you’ll get a great birds-eye view. Start out from Chautauqua Park and follow the signs for the First Flatiron.

5. The Dyke Trail, Gunnison

This difficult 13.9-mile loop is a favorite in the Crested Butte and Gunnison area, especially this time of year. The Dyke Trail is well loved by mountain bikers, but fall hikers can get in on the action, too. During autumn the aspens will be brilliant, and the views of the Ruby Range and Anthracite Mountains don’t hurt, either. Plug the following coordinates into your GPS, and get out there! 38.858361, -107.096555.

6. Kebler Pass, Crested Butte

Kebler Pass isn’t a trail, but the fall foliage it holds makes it worth its own mention. Consider hiking Elk Creek/Gunsight Pass after you drive along the road. For hiking, drive down Kebler Pass Road traveling west for 4.6 miles and park near the ravine. You’ll see a trail off to the right – take the trail, hiking on the left side of the stream. Once you’re at the top of Gunsight Pass, return via the same route. It’s a difficult 4-5 mile hike, but the colors make it worth every step.

7. Maroon Bells, Aspen

A fall hiking guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Aspen’s famous Maroon Bells. There are some restrictions about when you can drive your own vehicle and when you’ll have to take the bus, so be sure to make a game plan before departing. The journey to Maroon Lake is an easy 3 mile round trip. It’ll be crowded, but it’s a must-do. If you want to escape the crowds, there are plenty of trails to explore past Maroon Lake, too.

8. Lizard Head, Telluride

Lizard Head Trail is one of the most popular trails in Telluride, and the scenery only improves once autumn hits. You have a number of trip options, one being a 7.6-mile round trip journey to Black Face Peak. It’s a difficult hike, so be ready to work! Stopping to take plenty of photo breaks is encouraged.

9. Spring Creek Trail, Steamboat Springs

Spring Creek Trail is an easy, albeit long, trail that’s perfect for enjoying fall color displays in Steamboat Springs. Its 10.5 miles round trip, so be sure to bring some snacks and give yourself enough time to thoroughly enjoy the trail. Find the trailhead at the corner of Amethyst Drive and Maple Street.

10. Three Island Lake Trail, Steamboat Springs

Another Steamboat-area favorite, Three Island Lake Trail makes for an excellent fall hiking trip. You’ll hike through a dense aspen forest that should be brimming with colors if you time it right. The 7-mile trip is rated as moderately difficult. The trail is straightforwardly accessed from Steamboat Springs, and you can easily find the trailhead by plugging the following GPS coordinates into Google Maps: 40.76389, -106.70833.