Aspen Hiking Trails Cater to Various Skill Levels and Abilities
When most think of Aspen, they think skiing. However, the area offers many sightseeing options where visitors see mountains, wildlife and stunning scenery. The better news is: It’s easy to hike in Aspen, too. Aspen-Snowmass has multiple options ranging from easy and short, to long and difficult. To pick the right one, here are the top Aspen hiking trails in Colorado.
Aspen Hiking Trails: Top 7 From Easy to Difficult
Maroon Lake Scenic Trail
Perfect for newcomers and those short on time, Maroon Lake Scenic Trail measures 1.9 miles. On this trail, hikers get the best of both worlds. The trail offers an easy hike as well as some of the best views in Aspen. Due to popularity, Maroon Lake’s loop stays pretty busy, so expect to see walkers, runners, nature groups and dog owners.
While the trail is accessible year-round, the road closes in wintertime. For the best experience, hike Maroon Lake Scenic Trail from May to October.
Ranked among the easiest Aspen hiking trails, Grottos Trail offers a 0.6-mile loop suited for all skill levels. Most prefer to use this trail from June to September when hikers see a waterfall, ice caves, wildlife and blooming wildflowers in the summer.
With only an elevation change of 29 feet, this trail welcomes families as well. Dogs may join the fun but should be leashed at all times. Visitors should note: Roads that access this trail may close during inclement weather, so plan in advance.
Crater Lake Trail
This option ranks among the best Aspen hiking trails for its scenic beauty and smaller crowds. Crater Lake Trail begins at Maroon Lake and measures 3.6 miles. Visitors should follow Crater Lake signs and prepare to climb higher in the valley. On the trail, expect to see mountain views, Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak.
Crater Lake Trail consists of dirt and rock. Visitors are welcome to bring dogs and should practice safety during inclement weather.
Aspen Hiking Trails: Moderate to Difficult
Hunter Creek Trail
For a more moderate option, Lani White and Hunter Creek Trail offers a 5.2-mile loop near Aspen. Hikers enjoy this trail because it features a waterfall, observation deck, foliage and wildlife. Hunter Creek Trail also provides a place to ride mountain bikes, watch birds and walk leashed dogs.
This trail is heavily used and has spots with residential homes and vacation rentals. Expect to follow Hunter Creek through woodlands and rocky terrain to see the waterfall and observation points.
Cathedral Lake Trail
Cathedral Lake Trail ranks among the most difficult Aspen hiking trails. It climbs over 2,070 feet and measures 5.3 miles suitable for experts. To find Cathedral Lake Trail, head to White River National Forest from June to September.
Due to the length and difficulty, hikers should bring plenty of water and hiking poles. Cathedral Lake Trail offers a steep but open hike, and some spots can become icy in the winter. For the best views and safest conditions, hike from June to September. Leashed dogs are permitted as well.
West Maroon Trail
At 20.4 miles, West Maroon Trail offers a difficult hike in the Maroon Bells area. Most visit this trail from April to September to see a lake and unforgettable views. In the summer, enjoy open views of wildflowers and wildlife; while fall brings foliage in bright colors.
West Maroon Trail demands caution and preparation. It has an elevation gain of nearly 5,400 feet, so bring poles, snacks, water and wear appropriate clothing. Pet owners are welcome to bring leashed dogs.
Rio Grande Trail
Serious hikers can’t miss Rio Grande Trail, a 42-mile multi-use trail free from most vehicles. This option provides point-to-point, semi-paved journey that includes Glenwood Springs, Aspen and Carbondale. In addition, expect to see hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, families and pets.
For an easier – and shorter hike – ride or walk out and take the bus back home. Roaring Fork Transit Authority offers bus stops along Rio Grande Trail, and allows bikes onboard until 7:30 p.m. In addition, remember to keep right on the trail and allow others to pass if necessary.