Fall hikes are a sensational time to explore the wilderness, and it is not always about the leaves changing color. Leaves shimmering in the bright fall sunshine are spectacular; however, taking a trail beyond the tree line into open alpine tundra in the fall is a rainbow of stunning reds and gold.

Fourteen trails we loved in the fall and found popping in colors unique to high altitude in autumn and lots of shimmering Aspens. These trails in Sept/Oct are quiet, with fewer hikers than in other famous fall color-searching spots.


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Brainard Lake Recreation Area / Ward, CO

Isabelle Glacier Trail is hiking into a Colorado postcard. Unmatched in its scenic beauty from beginning to end. It’s a hike that screams, “This is Colorado.” You can hike to gorgeous Isabelle Lake for a more leisurely yet beautiful day or be adventurous and hike onto Isabelle Glacier. One of my top hikes!

 NOTE: In Late June to Mid Oct this is a fee area and reservations are required as of late Sept. 2021. Located in the Brainard Recreation Area > CLICK HERE for more information. > CLICK HERE for reservations.

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Isabelle Lake

4.2 miles out & back

Rated: moderate

Isabelle Glacier

8.4 miles out & back

Rated: strenuous

Indian Peaks Wilderness


No bikes, no horses

Dogs ok


Rollinsville, CO

Crater Lakes is in the heart of the James Peaks Wilderness and is the perfect day hike or backpacking weekend. Nestled just below the Continental Divide, the setting is unbeatable.


6.5 miles out and back

Rated: Moderate

Restrooms at Trailhead

The trail starts on South Boulder Creek Trail

No bikes

Open to dogs on leash & horses

James Peak Wilderness

Boulder Ranger District

Roosevelt NationalForest


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Bakerville, CO

Watrous Gulch to Mount Parnassus is a challenging and sensational hike to the Summit of 13,580′ with breathtaking views across some of the highest peaks in Colorado. Shorten your day to the saddle just before climbing Mount Parnassus and still see incredible peak views in golden meadows. 


7.3 miles out and back

Rated: Strenuous

Elevation Gain: 3,290′

Summit – 13,580′

Portable Toilets

Large parking area – starts at Herman Gulch Trailhead

Nearest Town: Georgetown, CO

Arapaho National Forest

Watrous Gulch Trail begins at Herman Gulch Trailhead



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Marble, CO

The Iconic Crystal Mill and the historic town of Crystal are the main attraction but hiking the 9 miles there and back is packed with pristine views along the Crystal River, passing colorful Lizard Lake and the fantastic White River National Forest surrounding you. You can go by 4×4, horse, or bike, but hiking is magical and much more rewarding.

This hike was in early October, and the road was quiet. No 4×4 traffic, only hikers. I imagine it’s pretty dusty and noisy in the summer months. Still vibrant in fall colors in October.


9 miles out and back

Rated: easy/moderate

Open: only in summer and fall months

High 4×4 off-road traffic

Family friendly

Rough, rocky & muddy

No restrooms

Bring: water & snacks!

Dogs ok on leash

RESTROOMS: Portable Potties are available at Beaver Lake State Wildlife Area before reaching the town of Marble.

LOCATED: 7 miles from Marble, CO. From Carbondale, CO, travel 28 miles on CO133 to the town of Marble. When in Marble, stay on the paved road through town to where the pavement ends. You will see a red house on your left. Park here and start hiking up the dirt road. (Crystal City Road #314). Or drive .06 miles farther up the dirt road to the top of the hill and park in a small lot. High clearance is recommended.


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Aspen, CO

American Lake Trail has got it all. Just minutes from beautiful Aspen, CO, this hike is what Aspen is about. Incredible aspen groves line the trail for the first mile, soon leading into a dense forest of pines and spruces, arriving at an alpine lake with sweeping high peaks views. Wow, stunning!


6.4 miles out and back

Rated: Strenuous

Elevation gain: approx: 2000′

Highest elevation: 11,390′

No restrooms

Dogs ok on leash

Nearest Town: Aspen, CO

Known for Wildflowers in Summer and Aspens in Fall.

Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness



Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, CO

There is nothing like a hike in the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Hiking Blue Lakes Trail was above and beyond our expectations. If you are looking for a trail that won’t disappoint? This is it! Wow, I loved this hike! Summer is sensational with wildflowers, yet crowded. Fall is spectacular, with stunning high alpine fall colors and fewer crowds. 

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Trail # 201

Rated: Strenuous

6.3 miles out and back (first lake)

11 miles out and back to Blue Lakes Pass

Start elevation: At the trailhead, 9350 ft.

Elevation: Upper Lake, 11,720 ft.

Elevation: Blue Lakes Pass: roughly 13,000 ft.

Closest Towns: Ridgway, Ouray

From Ridgway, CO, head west on Hwy 62 for 4.8 miles and take a left on CR-7/ FR851. (marked Dallas Creek Road). Follow CR-7 for 2 miles to the intersection with CR-7A. Stay to the right on CR-7, 9 miles to the trailhead from Hwy 62. (Note: rough road but doable for a 2WD in summer).

Altitude Sickness is Real – Acclimate, hydrate, and know the signs of altitude sickness before your day hike or backpacking adventure > Colorado High Altitude Hiking Effects and Advice


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Evergreen / Idaho Springs, CO

Chicago Lakes Trail is a high-altitude delight as it winds its way to two alpine lakes into the Mt. Evans Wilderness. Wildflowers, wildlife, and views are abundant in summer. Fall and Winter hold magic as the snow settles in on the peaks. A favorite local trail!


Trailhead is located at Echo Lake.

Trail #52

12 miles out & back

Rated: strenuous

Elevation gain – 2,536′

Upper Lake Elevation – 12,868′


A popular area so sometimes parking is tricky. Come early.

Chicago Lakes Trail enters the Mt. Evans Wilderness

Open to horses and leashed dogs

Nearest Towns: Idaho Springs / Evergreen

Chicago Lakes Trailhead begins at Echo Lake Park

Important to keep hydrated on any hike in Colorado


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Boreas Pass / Breckenridge / Fairplay, CO

Black Powder Pass Trail at the Summit of Boreas Pass near Breckenridge, CO. is a 3.2-mile, slightly challenging trail. A hike to a panorama of gorgeous high-peak views! Pack a lunch, check out the railroad relics of yesteryear, and wander up Black Powder Pass. 


3.4 miles out & back

Rated: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 1,000′

Located: Summit Boreas Pass – 11,481′

Nearest Town: Breckenridge, CO

Boreas Pass Rd

19.8-mile point-to-point dirt road. Easily accessible by car.

Closed in winter, (approx: Oct-May) popular for snowshoeing and XC skiing when closed to traffic.


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Guanella Pass / Georgetown, CO

Silver Dollar Lakes Trail on stunning Guanella Pass is an authentic Colorado experience! Beautiful dense pine forest to high above timberline reaching spectacular views while passing one alpine lake, being greeted by a 2nd alpine lake, and reaching the 3rd lake at 12,178 in elevation.


Trail #79

3.3 miles out and back to Silver Dollar Lake

4.3 miles out and back to Murray Lake

Rated: Moderate

Silver Dollar – 11,950′ elevation

Murray Lake – 12,178′ elevation

Camping: Guanella Pass Campground

Open to leashed dogs, horses

Nearest town: Georgetown, CO

Clear Creek Ranger District

Hiking in Colorado, you want to be prepared with appropriate hiking gear. > Day Hiker Checklist


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Green Mountain Reservoir / Heeney, CO

Lower Cataract Lake Trail Loop is “oh so sweet”! An adventure for both young and old. The perfect casual day hike or beginner snowshoe trek. The fall foliage in fall is gorgeous against the deep blue sparkling water. 


2.5-mile loop

Rated: Easy

Trail # 57

Family and dog friendly

Open to: Hiking, Snowshoeing, Fishing

Start Elevation: 8,652’ Minimal elevation gain


Eagles Nest Wilderness

White River National Forest

Finding the trailhead: From Silverthorne: Travel north on Hwy 9 out of town towards Green Mountain Reservoir. Just before the reservoir turns left onto Heeney Rd. Travel 5 miles, turn left on Cataract Creek Rd. The road is dirt and slightly narrow and rough in spots but passable. Go past the Surprise Lake Trailhead to the Lower Cataract Lake Trailhead and parking.


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Telluride, CO

Bridal Veil Basin to Blue Lake will leave you stunned with its scenic beauty. The famous 365′ Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, is the first highlight of many more to come as you hike deeper into the Bridal Veil Basin.

Hiking in the San Juan Mountains never disappoints! Located at the edge of town in Telluride, CO.


Rated: Moderate/strenuous

Start at Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead

8.7 miles out & back

Start Elevation: 10,400′ End 12,220″

Portable Potties

Uncompahgre National Forest


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Kebler Pass / Crested Butte, CO

Dark Canyon, Irwin, and Dyke Trail Loop are located on Kebler Pass, which is known for its massive aspen trees in the fall. But, not to leave out its sensational wildflowers in the summer months. Beautiful hike with endless views, incredible forests, beaver dams, and rugged mountains. Glimmers in Aspens!

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5.9 Mile Loop

Rated: Moderate


Open to dogs, horses

Gunnison National Forest

West Elk Wilderness

Ragged Wilderness

PATAGONIA has a Nano Puff Vest and a Nano Puff Jacket I have owned for years and carry with me year-round in Colorado’s High Country. Warm, lightweight, packable, and comfortable. The vest is my most prized possession. I have all the colors. You will have your vest and jacket for years of hiking. 

Perfect for Colorado Fall Weather!


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Telluride / Ophir, CO

Hope Lake Trail is one of the most sought-after trails near Telluride, CO, and we enjoyed discovering why and loved it!

High peaks hover above us as we hike through green/golden lush forests, crossing creeks, views all around, and beautiful alpine tundra to a crystal clear alpine lake high above the treeline in a basin lined with 13ers. 

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5.3 miles out and back

Rated: Moderate

Start Elevation: 10,750 ft.

Lake Elevation: 11,880 ft.

Open to hiking, horseback.

Uncompahgre National Forest

Closest town: Telluride, CO

No restroom

Dispersed camping along FR #627


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Breckenridge, CO / French Gulch Area

The most colorful hike in Breckenridge, Minnie Mine Trail, is an easy hike through reds, oranges, and golds with exceptional views of the mountain peaks while hiking through some of Colorado’s most historical remnants of mines.

We started our hike 3 miles down well-maintained French Gulch Road past the B&B Mine Trailhead & across from the historical  > Reiling Gold Dredge


1.8-mile loop

Rated: Moderate

No restroom

Dog friendly


Hike, Bike, Snowshoe

Exceptional fall colors

Views of Breckenridge Ski Resort


These are random photos from various Colorado Ghost Towns in Colorado. Crispy air, crunchy leaves, and fall colors enhance the historic areas; fall is our favorite time to explore them.

> Colorado Ghost Town Guide: to find the best! By Kenneth Jessen.

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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