If you live in Denver, the perfect autumn hike might be closer than you think. Here’s the skinny on when to see the leaves changing in 2011 and where to go for the best fall hiking in Colorado.
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When do the leaves change in Colorado
Expect cooler high elevations to color up before the valleys. Last year leaves peaked as late as October 4-8th, but the changes typically start to happen around the 2nd or 3rd week of September. The National Forest Service publishes information to help you catch the peak aspen viewing in most areas of the state.
Where to View Fall Colors for 2011
Trails Near Denver (Click on each trail name for directions and more info):
Kenosha Pass West, near Bailey, CO: Up to 24 Miles as an out and back with moderate elevation gain in the first few miles. This is a section of Colorado trail that is extremely accessible and offers gorgeous panoramic vistas of the valley below. You also have the option of hiking East from the parking area to find some large Aspen groves that sometimes peak at different times, oddly enough.
Hells Hole Trail, near Idaho Springs, CO: 8.2 Miles out and back with 1600 feet of elevation gain. This trail lies in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area, which contains two 14ers and some cirques (glacial basins)- not bad at all for being just outside of Denver.
Hessie Trailhead to Lost Lake, near Nederland, CO: A shorter 2.7 mile round trip hike that’s big on scenery. This trail sits outside the boundary of Indian Peaks Wilderness area, so the surrounding mountains make it gorgeous year round, but it’s particularly great in the fall.
A Bit Further, but guaranteed to be a beautiful drive:
The Dyke Trail, just West of Crested Butte, CO: Almost 15 miles as a complete loop with a portion on dirt road and some steep sections. This trail gives you great views of Kebler pass, one of the largest aspen groves in the world. It makes a long mountain bike loop or a nice out and back day hike.
Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO: After a short hike you will see why this is one of the most photographed spots in all of Colorado. The reflection in Maroon Lake, makes fall the ideal time to visit the Maroon Bells. If you prefer a more strenuous workout near Aspen, The near by Rim Trail makes a great 7 mile fall trail run or bike ride.
Search for your favorite trail on Panorak’s RouteFinder. Don’t worry if it’s not there, you can always add it in by using the large “Create New Shared Route” button above the map.