Aspen and the surrounding mountains are great to explore on foot. When the snow recedes up into the highest reaches of the mountains for the summer, an endless array of hiking trails become accessible for incredible sightseeing. From short day trips like Smuggler and the Ute trails, to multi-day adventures like the 4 Pass Loop, there’s something for everyone. If you are visiting Aspen for the first time, do consider the effects of high altitude and pick day hikes in the lower mountains to allow yourself to acclimatize before exploring the high alpine regions. Also, don't forget to bring the essentials: day pack, food, plenty of water water, sunscreen, hat, appropriate warm clothing for changing weather, and a first aid kit, just to name a few. You never know what you might need when venturing into the backcountry for a few hours! Here are a few of our favorite Aspen area hikes.
This trail provides great views of the Roaring Fork Valley and all four ski areas as you ascend multiple switchbacks. This trail is 4.8 miles to the antennas in the woods with a starting elevation of 7,700 feet. You can continue into the Hunter Creek Valley off the Sunnyside trail. To access the trail, turn right onto Cemetery Lane as you leave Aspen. Parking is 1.1 miles from the turn near the Slaughterhouse Bridge after you cross the Roaring Fork River.
The Ute Trail is frequently traveled by locals and visitors alike who are looking for a quick work-out. Known for its steep switchbacks and rocky terrain, the Ute Trail ascends quickly out of Aspen to a rocky view point 1,700 feet above the trailhead. Consider bringing hiking poles to aid in the descent, as it is quite steep. The trailhead is on Ute Avenue just southeast of Aspen, walking distance from the Aspen core.
ACES Nature Trail
The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is a 25-acre preserve at Hallam Lake, and truly a hidden gem of the Aspen area. It is a great place for a nature walk, with plenty of peace and quiet. ACES is two blocks south of Main Street off of Mill. Hang a left on Puppy Smith Street, park and head down a short foot path to the visitor center. ACES is open Monday – Saturday.
Hunter Creek Loop
The Hunter Creek Loop is 5.5 miles round-trip and is located just .4 miles from the heart of Aspen. The trail starts at 7,850 feet and ascends to 8,800 feet. Highlights include mountain meadows, a creek, ghost ranch buildings, and great views of the Elk Mountains. For a hike so close to the heart of town, Hunter Creek offers incredible views and a great workout. The Hunter Creek Trail is accessible near the Aspen Art Museum off of Red Mountain Road. Look for a sign reading “Hunter Creek Trail."
Rio Grande Trail
The Rio Grande Trail begins on Puppy Smith Rd (behind the Post Office) and is a very doable hiking and biking trail that extends for miles. After cemetary road, it becomes a dirt trail. With an elevation of just under 8,000 feet and an easy level of difficulty, this is one of the more rewarding hikes in the Aspen area!