Hiking

From the steep stone walls of Glenwood Canyon, towering above the Colorado River to wildflower-strewn meadows above Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley offers a wealth of sights and environments for hikers. This valley includes chaparral and high deserts, deep forests, red cliffs, alpine lakes and craggy passes. There’s something here for hikers of all ages and abilities.

Below, you’ll find a sampling of local favorite hikes. Explore these links and you will find many more:

Beginner’s Hikes


Grottos Trail, near Aspen

Difficulty: 1 mile, minimal elevation gain - an easy hike
Trailhead: Go east on Highway 82 from Aspen. Continue 9.9 miles to the Grottos Day Use Area sign, located on the right side of the road.
Description: More of a short, relaxed ramble than a hike. From the picnic area on the Roaring Fork River, cross the footbridge and turn left, heading uphill past granite slabs to the Ice Caves, where water and ice have carved deep, swirling channels and caverns into the rock. Parental supervision is advised. Beyond the Ice Caves, the trail continues to a series of roaring cascades and waterfalls.

Linwood Pioneer Cemetery, Glenwood Springs

Difficulty: 1 mile round trip, 300 feet elevation gain – an easy stroll
Trailhead: From downtown Glenwood Springs, the trailhead is at 12th and Bennett, which is three blocks east of Grand Avenue.
Description: This short trail winds up a somewhat steep hillside to a historic pioneer cemetery that was started in 1886. Halfway up the trail decorated with ribbons; tie a ribbon with a wish note on it as you pass. From the cemetery, hikers and history buffs get a view of the town and can wander around looking at the old headstones. This cemetery holds the graves of John Henry "Doc" Holliday and Henry Logan, better known as the train robber "Kid Curry."

Maroon Lake, near Aspen

Difficulty: 1.2 miles round trip, 120 feet elevation gain – an easy hike
Trailhead: Unless you arrive early in the morning, summer access to Maroon Lake is restricted to shuttle buses only. Buses run from Aspen Highlands Village off Maroon Creek Road. Call 970-925-8484 for information.
Description: Maroon Lake, with its much-photographed view of the famous Maroon Bells, is one of the easiest and shortest hikes in the Aspen area. On the lake's northwestern side you’ll find an active beaver pond. Maroon Lake is also a major gateway to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, and everything from half-day walks to multi-day backpacking and climbing trips begin here. These include:

Intermediate Hikes


Grizzly Creek, near Glenwood Springs

Difficulty: 12 miles round trip, 2,5 feet elevation gain – intermediate hike
Trailhead: From I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, take Grizzly Creek exit 121. The trailhead is accessible from the lower and upper parking lots.
Description: The trail climbs along Grizzly Creek, offering many viewpoints of a beautiful mountain stream cascading down through a rocky streambed. The first 1/4 mile to an old-time picnic spot is wheelchair accessible. Beyond there, the trail climbs steeply through a steep canyon with high rock walls the site of a 1958 forest fire. The rocky rail ends at the city of Glenwood Springs water diversion structure.

Hanging Lake, about 10 miles from Glenwood Springs

Difficulty: 2 miles round trip, 1,000 feet – a very steep climb, but well-marked and maintained.
Trailhead: From eastbound I-70, take Hanging Lake exit 125, drive 1/4 mile to the Hanging Lake Rest Area parking lot. From westbound I-70, motorists must drive to the Grizzly Creek Rest Area, turn around and drive back to the Hanging Lake exit.
Description: The turquoise-blue waters of Hanging Lake are a geologic wonder, a home for cutthroat trout and an unforgettable sight. Waterfalls cascade into the sparkling lake through mossy overhangs. The Spouting Rock Trail climbs steeply above the lake to a spot where you can see water gushing straight out of a hole in the limestone cliff and enjoy the cooling spray. (Dogs and fishing forbidden.) The lake is very popular, so go early in the day and take water and sunscreen.

Boy Scout Trail near Glenwood Springs

Difficulty: Length: 3 miles round trip, 2,000 feet elevation gain – somewhat challenging
Trailhead: From downtown Glenwood Springs, walk east up 8th Street. Just before the last house, look for a sign pointing left to the Scout Trail.
Description: For expansive views of Glenwood Springs, the Flat Tops, and Mount Sopris the Scout Trail is a great choice. The trail climbs up a gully and then contours east, swinging out onto dry hillsides and then back into an oasis-like gulch. After heading to another outlook, it makes a beeline for the summit of Lookout Mountain. Below the summit, the Scout Trail intersects with the Bear Creek Trail, which takes hikers along the south rim of Glenwood Canyon.

Not for the Faint of Heart


Lost Man Trail, near Aspen

Difficulty: 9 miles total, 2,300 feet elevation gain
Trailhead: From downtown Aspen, go east on Highway 82 toward Independence Pass. Drive to the big switchback at 18.5 miles. The recommended route leaves from this point and ends at the lower Lost Man trailhead, four miles down the road. (Hikers can leave a shuttle car at the lower trailhead, or hitchhike back to their car.)
Description: This semi-loop involves either a car shuttle or a short hitchhike, but it passes two beautiful alpine lakes near the Continental Divide and meadows full of wildflowers, with 13,000-foot peaks on all sides. From the upper Lost Man trailhead, the trail climbs for roughly two miles to Independence Lake, surrounded by boulders and fields of flowers. A steep climb follows to the saddle at 12,800 feet. Cairns lead down to Lost Man Lake.

Ute Trail, near Aspen

Difficulty: 2.2 miles, 1,200 feet elevation gain
Trailhead: From I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, take Grizzly Creek exit 121. The trailhead is accessible from the lower and upper parking lots.
Description: The Ute portion goes by an Indian cemetery dating from the 1800’s and provides grain views of the Town of Aspen. The trail then continues up the Aspen Ajax Mountain to the Aspen Gondola over uneven ground with many switchbacks. An exhilarating accomplishment.

Cathedral Lake, near Aspen

Difficulty: 5.6 miles round-trip, 2,000 feet elevation gain - difficult
Trailhead: Take Main Street/Highway 82 from downtown Aspen west to the roundabout, and follow the Castle Creek spur up the valley for 12.2 miles. Shortly after the ghost town of Ashcroft, turn right onto a gravel road, and drive a half-mile to park.
Description: Nestled amid 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks high above the Castle Creek Valley, Cathedral Lake is a favorite local destination. This trail climbs through beautiful aspen forests and then continues steeply through spruce forests, past rockslides and up some short, steep switchbacks. Bear left at all forks. From the lake you have a gorgeous view of Cathedral Peak and 13,500-foot Electric Pass. From the lake, many hardy hikers backtrack to an earlier fork in the trail and then head north through fields of wildflowers to the Pass. Be aware of summer afternoon rainstorms and possible lightning at high altitudes. Take water and sunscreen and leave early in the day.