Almost every trail in Colorado’s High Country offers stunning fall hikes with colors. The most popular ones seem to be well known and full of hikers. We hiked last year in a few areas and found ourselves enjoying more solitude and enjoying the fall season in splendid scenery and colors.

Even in places where fall colors are not as prominent, there is nothing like hiking in the fall in Colorado, guaranteed to have amazing blue skies, crisp air and the perfect temperature. 

Not all the trails mentioned here are packed full of Aspens but they are packed full of an amazing Colorado fall experience!

 

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

 

Mini Mine Trail 

The prettiest little hike through reds, oranges and golds with exceptional views of the mountain peeks while hiking through some of Colorado’s most historic remnants of mines. Known as the most colorful hike in Breckenridge because of the minerals in the soil leftover from mining days. It was magical, with aspen leaves floating blissfully about and covering the trail as we hiked. We had this trail all to ourselves in late September, which is rare anywhere in Summit County! 

For more info: Mini Mine Trail, Breckenridge’s Most Colorful Hike 

LOCATED: 3 miles down well maintained French Gulch Road, Breckenridge, CO

TIDBITS

1.8 mile loop

Rated: moderate

Dog friendly

Family friendly hiking and snowshoeing

Popular for mountain biking

Lots of history

Exceptional trail for fall colors

Views of Breckenridge Ski Resort

LOCAL TIDBIT:  it’s less expensive to stay in Summit County in late fall and with so many trail opportunities around the area you could spend days hiking through fall colors! 

 

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Inter-Laken Trail 

Need an easy trail with stunning views in Colorado’s high country? Inter-Laken Trail is one of our favorite fall hikes. Sitting at the base of Independence Pass in Twin Lakes, Inter-Laken Trail rolls gently up and down right alongside one of Colorado’s most beautiful lakes. Within minutes you are hiking along the lakeshore with intermittent views of Twin Lakes and glimpses of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest 14er.

FOR MORE INFO: Discover Inter-Laken Trail!

TIDBITS

Rated: easy

4.7 miles out and back

Start Elevation: 9,272 ft. minimal gain

Popular for: hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback, fishing and trail running

Open year round

Nearest Towns: Twin Lakes, Leadville, Buena Vista, CO

Part of the Colorado Trail/Collegiate West Trail

San Isabel National Forest

 

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Blue Lakes Trail 

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. Looking for a trail that won’t disappoint? This is it! Rated hard (which always intimidated me before) until we hiked Blue Lakes Trail. It was a bit of a scramble to reach the Upper Blue Lakes but its doable so don’t let the rating scare you! It’s the most breathtaking hikes we’ve done to date.

FOR MORE INFO: Blue Lakes Trail, Beyond Expectations!

TIDBITS

Trail # 201

Rated: Strenuous

6.3 miles (first lake) – 11 miles out and back 

Start elevation: At trailhead, 9350 ft.

Elevation: Upper Lake, 11,720 ft.

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

Closest Towns: Ridgway, Ouray, CO

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Uncompahgre National Forest

LOCAL TIP: If not camping and desire less expensive lodging, try Montrose, CO, just 35 miles from the town of  Ridgway. 

 

 

 

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Lower Cataract Trail 

Short but “oh so sweet”, a childlike adventure for both young and old. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the unexpected beauty surrounding this trail while wandering through thick Aspen grooves and eventually into a dense spruce-fir forest passing one of the areas most popular waterfalls. The perfect casual day hike or beginner snowshoe trek.

FOR MORE INFO: Lower Cataract Lake Trail, a Colorado Hiking Gem

TIDBITS

2.5 mile loop

Rated: easy

Trail # 57

Family and dog friendly

Open to: Hiking, Snowshoeing, Fishing

Start Elevation: 8,652’ Minimal elevation gain

Restrooms

Nearest Town: Silverthorne, CO

Eagles Nest Wilderness

White River National Forest

Another popular trail in Silverthorne, CO: Lily Pad Lakes Trail which is best in fall for less crowds and a magical setting!

 

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Hiking Independence Townsite

Stunning scenery all around us lead us into a history filled trail. Not our usual hiking experience but one to share for the location! High on Independence Pass you’ll find a Signpost with a small parking area. Doesn’t look like much but start hiking down and explore. Old buildings with signage throughout from the Aspen Historical Society keep us in the loop of how the town was originally laid out and with fall colors this area was stunning. ADD THIS TO A FALL COLORS ROAD TRIP!

FOR MORE INFO: Hiking Around Colorado Ghost Towns

1 mile or more if desired

Rated: easy

Dog friendly

Elevation:10.380 ft

Located: Independence Pass

Closest Town: Aspen, CO

White River National Forest

Another great fall road trip: St. Elmo Ghost Town, near Mt. Princeton. 

 

 

 

 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison 

Sensational hiking trails, dramatic canyons, and never ending spectacular views kept us for hours exploring the “Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park”. Numerous trails throughout the Park and we did every one of them! We geared our day hiking within the Park as a “tourist experience”. There are Wilderness Trails that require a permit for  more adventurous hiking with specific regulations. We went in Sept. when the tourists were gone and the weather was perfect.

FOR MORE INFO: Unforgettable Hiking Trails in Black Canyon

TIDBITS

Trails rated: easy too moderate throughout the park.

Address: South Rim Visitor Center, 9800 Highway 347, Montrose, CO 81401

Black Canyon South Rim: 15 miles from Montrose, CO and 63 miles from Gunnison, CO

Black Canyon North Rim: 11 miles south of Crawford, CO, the road is closed in winter

No public transportation within the Park

No restaurants within the Park – Visit Montrose CO for the nearest snacks & goodies.

Picnic tables throughout the Park

Plan Your Visit

 

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Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Want to start hiking in Colorado and end up above timberline at an alpine lake surrounded by views of 13ers & 14ers? Ptarmigan Lake Trail is it! We were smitten from start to finish. Beautiful forest and several lakes along the way make this hike one of my favorites. Would be an excellent first backpacking weekend adventure.  A true Colorado experience and in the fall, less crowds with those awesome bluebird skies!

For more info: Ptarmigan Lake Trail is Pristine Colorado Hiking

TIDBITS
Rated: moderate

6.2 miles out and back

Trail #1444

Elevation start: 10,680 ft.

Elevation end: 12,300 ft.

Outhouse at trailhead

Dog friendly

Chaffee County

San Isabel National Forest

Nearest town: Buena Vista

 

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Limber Grove Trail

Limber Grove Trail is a little known hidden gem and just off the beaten path, its a bit of a secret! We had an adventurous hike through Aspens and dense forest that lead us to trees over a 1000 years old. Gnarled trunks and twisted branches from years of harsh winters were truly spectacular. We did this trail in winter but added it to the list for fall because in any season this hike is one like no other. Getting above tree line in Colorado is always a treat and anyone could do this trail. It’s like a magical forest in the middle of nowhere on top of nowhere!

For more info: Limber Grove Trail is an Adventure

TIDBITS:

Rated: easy

3 miles out and back

Start Elevation: 10,565 ft. end 10,921 ft.

No restrooms at trailhead

Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative: has a brochure you can print

Closest Town: Fairplay, CO

Located between Horseshoe Campground and Four Mile Campground

South Park Ranger District: for more information

Not recommended for horses

Dog and family friendly

 


 

 

Browns Creek Falls & Browns Lake Trail

Want to push yourself a bit farther in your day hike? This is the hike for you. Browns Lake Trail was a complete surprise! Our day hike destination was originally to Browns Creek Falls but the itch to see Browns Lake was too much and after hanging around the Falls we keep going. Now the trail gets much more intense and our day hike became an adventure. Was so worth it! Browns Lake nestled beneath Jones Peak and Mount White is breathtaking and memorable. If you desire, just hiking to the Falls is an exceptional day hike! The fall are incredible.

FOR MORE INFO: Browns Creek Falls & Browns Lake Trail

TIDBITS

6.2 miles out and back to Browns Creek Falls

Rated: easy to moderate

12 miles out and back to Browns Lake

Rated: moderate to strenuous

Open to Dogs and horses

Restroom at Trailhead

Salida Ranger District – (719) 539-3591

Nearest Towns: Salida, CO and Buena Vista, CO

San Isabel National Forest

 

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McCullough Gulch 

Breathtaking from the beginning to the end this hike is as good as it gets! Known for its waterfalls and above timberline lakes, it’s a popular trail and very crowded during peak season. I’ve hiked in every season and going in late fall was the favorite! Beautiful light sprinkling of snow and the most brilliant blue skies it was like hiking up to heaven. Wanted to suggest this trail if you are looking for a late fall hike, not a lot of colors but an abundance of scenery! 

FOR MORE INFO: Fall Hike: McCullough Gulch Trail is as Good as it Gets! Summer Hike: McCullough Gulch in Summer!

TIDBITS

2.7 miles out and back from trailhead + a half mile trek to the Trailhead making it 3.7 miles.

Rated: moderate, consider its an uphill trek with lots of rocks and steep areas at high altitude.

Start Elevation: 11,100 ft. Elevation gain: 1,578 ft.

2 portable restrooms at the overflow parking lot for Quandary Peak

Highly popular trail, can become very crowded, limited close parking.

Dog friendly

Popular for snowshoeing: Contact Dillon Park Ranger District for Trail conditions.

NOTE: The road to the trailhead may be gated for weather issues. 

 

For more Colorado hiking trails, we posted a list of our favorite Colorado Trail Guide Books. 

 

Hermans Gulch

A moderately challenging hike through alpine forest and open meadows before reaching spectacular alpine tundra above tree line which soon leads to Herman Lake. This trail is crazy crowded in the peak season. It’s close proximity to Denver brings in a lot of hikers. We hiked in October after a few small snowfalls and just 2 wks before the big snows came and had only 10 other hikers about. What a great time to go… and it’s was warm! Still Indian summer. A trail not to miss hiking in the fall!

FOR MORE INFO: Herman Gulch Trail Adventure into Snowcapped

TIDBITS

6.3 miles out and back

Elevation gain: 1,755ft.

Herman Lake sits at 11,987 ft. 

Rated: moderate

2 portable potties at the Trailhead

Popular Colorado Wildflower hike in summer

Leashed dogs allowed

Dispersed camping

Arapahoe National Forest – for camping information

Clear Creek Ranger District – for trail conditions

Nearest Towns East on I-70, Georgetown and Idaho Springs

Nearest Town West on I-70, Silverthorne (Summit County)

 


 

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The Crags Trail

Get ready for the unexpected when you hike The Crags Trail, not your normal trek through the Colorado forests when reaching the top! The views and the rock formations will leave you stunned. This photo is in summer, however in the fall season the colors are vibrant throughout the forest. Highly recommend even beginners to try this trail. It has its challenges but is so worth the few uphill areas to see scenery like no other trail in Colorado.

FOR MORE INFO: The Crags Trail, A Local Favorite!

TIDBITS

Rated: easy/moderate, yet be aware there are sections that are definitely more moderate.

4.9 miles out and back

Trail #664

Nearest Towns: Divide, Woodland Park & Colorado Springs

869 ft. elevation gain

Pike National Forest

Open year round, best May-October

Dog and horse friendly

Restroom at Trailhead

Note: the gate before the trailhead might be closed in winter, park at the gate and snowshoe in.

Hoping this finds you out on the trails this fall season and enjoying some of Colorado’s most scenic spots! 

Are you a new hiker? or new to Colorado? I’d love to help you get out there and inspire you to do the trails you might feel you can’t do. Leave me a comment below and let’s be friends and inspire each other! 

HAPPY TRAILS!

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

 

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