The 7 Best Hikes in and Around Aspen to Tackle This Summer
Check out the top hikes in and around Aspen to plan out your summer treks:
- Smuggler Mountain Trail
- Ute Trail
- Sunnyside Trail
- Crater Lake
- Four Pass Leak
- Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs
- Cathedral Lake Trail
Here’s a closer look at each.
Aspen Hike #1: Smuggler Mountain Trail
Tackle the strenuous 4.6-mile Smuggler Mountain Trail and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Roaring Fork Valley. The trailhead is located just outside of Aspen and the hike itself gains 2,400 feet of elevation. Though it’s a tough hike, it’s doable for most people with a decent level of fitness. After you reach the summit, you’ll be able to see all the way to Independence Pass.
Aspen Hike #2: Ute Trail
This moderate, 4.8-mile hike takes you through Aspen’s west end and up into the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Area. The trailhead is located near the Aspen Golf Club and the hike takes you through forests, meadows and wildflowers. You’ll also have great views of the Maroon Bells along the way.
Related: 5 great restaurants to try in Aspen this summer
Aspen Hike #3: Sunnyside Trail
This is a great beginner-friendly hike that’s only 1.6 miles round trip. The Sunnyside Trail is located on the north side of Aspen Mountain and it’s an easy, out-and-back hike with little elevation gain. You’ll get great views of downtown Aspen, the Roaring Fork River and, on clear days, the Maroon Bells.
Aspen Hike #4: Crater Lake
Crater Lake is a beautiful alpine lake that’s a popular destination for day hikers and backcountry campers. The trailhead is located just outside of Aspen and the hike to the lake is just over 3 miles round trip with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Once you reach the lake, you’ll be surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. And, if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife like elk or deer.
Aspen Hike #5: Four Pass Loop
This strenuous 26.8-mile loop hike takes you through four 12,000-foot mountain passes. The trailhead is located near Aspen and the hike takes you through some of the most scenic areas in the state, including Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Castle Creek Valley and the Elk Mountains. You need to be in good shape to tackle this hike, but it’s well worth it for the incredible views.
Related: Check out Aspen history
Aspen Hike #6: Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs
This moderate, 8.5-mile hike takes you through a beautiful valley to a pair of hot springs. The trailhead is located just outside of Aspen and the hike follows Conundrum Creek for much of the way. You’ll cross a few streams along the way and, at the end, you can take a soak in the hot springs.
Aspen Hike #7: Cathedral Lake Trail
This moderate, 4-mile hike takes you to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by towering mountains. The trailhead is located near Aspen and the hike gains about 1,000 feet of elevation. Along the way, you’ll pass through forests and meadows full of wildflowers. When you reach the lake, you’ll have great views of the Maroon Bells.
Hiking Safety Tips
If you’re new to the area, check out these hiking safety tips:
- Be sure to check the weather forecast before you head out. storms can pop up quickly in the mountains and you don’t want to get caught in one.
- Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. This is especially important if you’re hiking alone.
- Pack plenty of food and water, especially if you’re doing a longer hike. It’s also a good idea to pack some extra clothes in case the weather changes.
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay on the trail. Don’t try to shortcut the trail or go off-trail, as this can be dangerous.
- If you see wildlife, admire it from a distance.
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