Aspen, Colorado—Obermeyer’s hometown for more than 75 years— is a renowned winter playground that beckons skiers and snowboarders from all corners of the globe. However, the autumn season in Aspen is equally enchanting, with its vibrant fall colors and crisp mountain air. There’s no better way to soak up the fall colors in our picturesque town before the ski season kicks into high gear than going for a hike colored in yellow aspen leaves. Here are four of the best hikes in Aspen that will allow you to soak in the stunning fall foliage while getting ready for ski season.
Maroon Bells Scenic Loop
The Maroon Bells, two iconic 14,000-foot peaks, are a must-see for locals and guests. The Maroon Bells Scenic Loop is an easy, family-friendly hike that takes you around Maroon Lake, reflecting the brilliant autumn colors of the surrounding aspen groves. This relatively flat trail is perfect for all ages and skill levels, making it an ideal warm-up for the winter sports ahead.
LOCAL TIP: Later in the fall—after leaves are gone and temperatures drop—you’ll find locals ice skating on Maroon Lake and playing pickup hockey in the most beautiful setting in the world!
Hunter Creek Trail
For a moderate hike that allows you to explore the changing aspen leaves, take on the Hunter Creek Trail. This four-mile loop takes you through a lush forest, across picturesque bridges, and to scenic overlooks of Aspen and the surrounding valley. In the fall, the trail is ablaze with golden aspens, providing a magical backdrop for your hike.
LOCAL TIP: You’ll see skiers trail running down the Hunter Creek boulders trying to simulate the quick reflexes needed to ski moguls in Aspen (we love bump skiing here!).
If you're looking for an adventure that combines a scenic drive and a hike, head to Independence Pass. This high mountain pass offers jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks, and you can choose from various short hikes and overlooks along the way. The pass is renowned for its fall foliage, with aspen trees forming a golden canopy over the road.
LOCAL TIP: Our favorite trail on Independence Pass is Lost Man Lake where you’ll find old mining relics surrounding the small high-alpine lake.
Cathedral Lake Trail
For a more challenging hike that rewards you with panoramic views of the Elk Mountains, embark on the Cathedral Lake Trail. The trail takes you through aspen groves, lush meadows, and rocky terrain before reaching the stunning Cathedral Lake. The lake, surrounded by golden aspens and towering peaks, is a sight to behold during the fall season.
LOCAL TIP: Start early! Ask any mountain guide and they’ll tell you that an early start is your best bet when heading into the alpine.
BONUS: Castle Creek Road
The earn-your-turns ethic runs deep in Aspen, but you don’t always have to break a sweat to soak up the colors. If you prefer a leisurely drive with occasional stops for short hikes and photo opportunities, Castle Creek Road is an excellent choice. This scenic route follows Castle Creek and offers numerous pull-offs where you can stretch your legs and admire the fall foliage. Keep an eye out for the historic Ashcroft Ghost Town, a unique spot to explore along the way.
As you prepare for the ski season in Aspen, take some time to savor the beauty of autumn in the Rockies. These adventures will not only help you stay in shape for the slopes but also allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning fall colors that blanket the landscape. Grab your hiking boots, pack a picnic, throw an insulation layer into your pack, be sure to bring a camera, and set out to explore Aspen before winter's snow blankets our town.