Aspen, Colorado is a hiking paradise. With the seemingly endless wilderness that surrounds the mountains and forests of Aspen, hikers who are new to the area often become overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing the perfect hiking trail. What Aspen does have to offer is a versatile range of hiking trails suitable for everyone from the day hiker to the backcountry trekker.
Popular Aspen Hiking Trails
When visiting Aspen, you don't have to drive very far before you've reached a number of breathtaking hikes. Trails are typically categorized from easy to difficult.
Easy Hiking Trails
The following trails are perfect for an afternoon outing in nearby Aspen. They are categorized as easy. It's important to keep in mind, however, that elevation levels for some trails are still high-some beginning at around 10,000 feet, so if you aren't used to higher elevation hiking, it's important to take it easy until your body adjusts.
- Grottos: If you want a trail that offers an interesting area for the whole family, then Grottos may be the perfect place for you. The area includes rock formations, waterfalls, short trails, and other interesting terrain. The highest elevation at Grottos is 9,600 feet. You can access the trailhead off of Highway 82, east of Aspen.
- Weller Lake: Typically classified as an easy to moderate hiking trail, the Weller Lake Trail takes between one to two hours to hike. The trail is approximately 0.6 miles one way in length with a beginning elevation of 300 feet and an ending elevation of 9,600 feet. You can access the trailhead off of Highway 82, east of Aspen.
- Discovery Trail: Created specifically for sight-impaired hikers, the Discovery Trail features nylon guide cords, self-guided tape and headphone sets, and messages printed in Braille. It begins at approximately 10,400 feet elevation. The trail is a half mile in length and can be accessed off of Highway 82, east of Aspen.
- Rio Grande Trail: Classified as an easy to moderate hiking and biking trail, the Rio Grande Trail begins on Puppy Smith Road. Bikers may enjoy the first two miles, which are paved. The rest of the trail is a dirt track with a total length of 8.4 miles. Elevation levels are 7,700 to 7,900 feet.
Moderate Hiking Trails
For those who want a bit more of a challenge in their hiking adventure, there are numerous moderate hiking trails in and around Aspen. Some of the most popular include the following:
- Grizzly Lake: Although the Grizzly Lake Trail is only 3.6 miles in length, one quarter of a mile on the trail contains switchbacks. The length of the trail includes an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. The trail can be accessed off of Highway 82.
- Pearl Pass: Located in the Castle Creek Valley Area, Pearl Pass is classified as a moderate to difficult trail, partly because of its length. In total, the trail is 25 miles long, but day hikers often choose to hike the 6.5 mile hike on the old four-wheel drive road.
- Spruce Creek Trail: Located in the Woody Creek area, Spruce Creek Trail is approximately eight miles in length with an elevation gain of over 2,300 feet.
- Crater Lake: Located near the Maroon Bells area, the Crater Lake trailhead is located at Maroon Lake. This trail follows the river and is a bit less than two miles in length one way.
Difficult Hiking Trails
When you are ready, the Aspen area features a great selection of difficult hiking trails. Some of these trails start out as moderate hikes but either their difficult terrain, elevation level, or length may categorize the trails as difficult later into the hike. Some of the most popular include the following:
- Midway Trail: Before you attempt this nearly nine mile trail, access a topographical map. The Midway Trail actually begins at Lost Man Trail, which is another moderate hiking trail, and is located in the White River National Forest near Aspen.
- Ute Trail: Accessible near Aspen on Ute Avenue, Ute Trail is only approximately one mile in length, but it is virtually all uphill and includes several switchbacks. While the trail is challenging, the view is amazing.
More Aspen Trail Information
The above trails range in difficulty from easy to difficult, and there are numerous informative websites that list the many hiking trails located in and around the hiking area, including the following:
- AspenChamber.org: Trails are categorized by location and labeled according to difficulty at this site.
- Trails.com: Hiking enthusiasts from all over the country access this site to find information on a wide variety of hiking trails.
- Aspensnowmass.com: Find out the ins and outs of hiking in the Aspen, Colorado area at this site.
- ColoradoHikingVacations.com: Check out information on some of the more well-known Aspen hiking trails at this site.
Each of the above websites give information on some of the many hiking trails located near Aspen. Trails can range from leisurely strolls to extremely difficult treks. However, whether you are a novice hiker or a seasoned backpacker, you should find plenty of challenges in the beautiful mountains and forests that surround Aspen.