This summer, people flocked to the mountains to escape the pandemic blues. Now that fall is on the way, there’s even greater reason to head to the hills: the glorious fall show as the leaves change from green to brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange, all shimmering against Colorado’s famous clear blue skies.
“The annual turning of the aspens, that glorious time when the mountains are awash in gold and crimson, is one of the most beautiful times of year in Colorado…” notes 5280 magazine.
Key to a heart-stopping display is lots of sunshine and low, but not freezing, temperatures, according to one forest entomologist who spoke with 5280. Also key to a great leaf-peeping experience is knowing the best places to visit.
5280 suggests these amazing hikes:
Continental Divide Trail to Fishhook and Lost Lakes (Steamboat): This hike to two gorgeous alpine lakes near Rabbit Ears Pass won’t disappoint and gives hikers a colorful glimpse of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail.
Boreas Pass (Breckenridge): 5280 makes this sound like a hunt, as well as a hike. It suggests hikers take Aspen Alley Trail, “an unmarked singletrack path located just past the winter gate, on the right side of the road.” If you can find it, you can enjoy a brief .75-mile walk through glorious aspen groves. And if you’re not the adventurous type, simply drive the pass – no hunt involved!
Maroon Bells (Aspen): A statewide favorite, the Maroon Bells hike is a sure-fire hit. But it also brings crowds. If you’re looking for something more socially distanced in the Aspen area, 5280 suggests American Lake Trail in White River National Forest, or Hunter Creek Valley Loop, which you can start in downtown Aspen.
Gem Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park): Here, you’ll hike to a “pristine alpine lake,” winding through pines and aspen trees. “Plus, because the trailhead is just outside of RMNP, you can explore the area without the entry fee.”
North Twin Cone Peak (Kenosha Pass): Expect lots of fellow hikers in this popular spot that will take you up 12,232 feet. 5280 promises the exertion will be well worth the view.