It is never a bad time to plan a trip to Colorado, but Fall might be the best. Once Autumn hits, hikers from around the world flock to the state to witness its famously colorful foliage. There are so many places to go it can be hard to choose just one. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Crested Butte, and Steamboat Springs are just a few of the amazing parks you can visit to see the colors. Keep reading to see our list of the best fall hikes in Colorado.
Distance: 3 mi
Elevation Gain: 160 feet
Our list starts with a classic fall hike. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness has got to be one of the best places to see fall foliage in Colorado. This short hike takes you up close and personal with Maroon Lake and offers stunning views of the famous Maroon Bells. This is one of the best fall hikes in Colorado!
Distance: 4.3 mi
Elevation Gain: 528 feet
The next hike on our list is also located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. It’s a short roundtrip that’s more of a leisurely stroll than uphill cardio. On your hike, you’ll be treated to sweeping panoramic views of the Maroon Bells and Mt. Daly. The trail can get crowded so we recommend starting early in the morning.
Distance: 10.5 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,469 feet
Spring Creek Trail is a long, but gentle trail perfect for seeing fall colors. It’s 10.5 miles roundtrip, but there are plenty of places to stop for pictures! So pack a snack, give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy your stroll through the lush aspen groves and beautiful fall foliage found on Spring Creek Trail. You can shorten it by turning around whenever you’d like!
Distance: 10.8 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
Elk Falls Overlook can be found in Colorado’s newest state park, Staunton State Park. This is a great hike if you want to see a lot in a single day. This trail takes you by waterfalls, through aspen groves, and offers picturesque views of the Colorado landscape! So if you’re looking for something with a lot to offer, look no further because this is one of the best fall hikes in Colorado.
Distance: 7.6 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,897 feet
Located in scenic Telluride, Lizard Head Trail offers amazing rock formations and beautiful fall colors. This difficult hike takes you up to Black Face Peak and ends at a 400-foot tall lizard-shaped rock, known as Lizard Head. Along the way, there will be plenty of photo ops, including of Trout Lake and the mountains to the East, so be sure to take full advantage of those on this fall hike.
Distance: 7 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,541 feet
The Three Island Lake Trail is a Steamboat favorite! It will take you through dense aspen forests that burst with color in the fall. You also get views of pristine lakes, towering rock faces, and sprawling mountain scenery. This isn’t the easiest hike, but the views are worth it and there is something to satisfy everyone.
Distance: 7 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,043 feet
This hike is perfect for those who enjoyed the Maroon Lake hike but want more of a challenge, (and less of a crowd). Climbing just over 2,000 feet, this hike navigates through colorful aspen groves and features stunning views of the Maroon Bells. The final destination is American Lake, a crystal clear lake, perfect for swimming! It’s rated as difficult but the views and reward are well worth it.
Distance: 5.7 mi
Elevation Gain: 698 feet
Located in Mueller State Park, this stunning trail is a 5.5-mile loop that allows horses, mountain bikes, and hikers. It weaves in and out of aspen groves and has plenty of opportunities to see wildlife native to the area. We recommend this local favorite for anyone desiring more of a nature walk and less of a hike.
Distance: 10.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,437 feet
The Pancake Rocks hike attracts people year-round but it’s best in fall when the trees are full of color. The trail is lined with beautiful vegetation and unique rock formations, from which the trail gets its name. This is a moderately difficult trail but is great for families with older kids who like to explore.
Distance: 15.4 mi
Elevation Gain: 3,185 feet
This is the toughest hike on our list. The trek along 401 Trail is worth it, but it’s long and climbs more than 3,000 feet. If you’re up for the challenge you’re treated to sprawling views of Crested Butte and lead to a serene alpine meadow. The colors along the way are as good as you’ll find anywhere else! A bonus is the trail is multi-use and is a popular mountain biking destination.
With that, we conclude our list of the best fall hikes in Colorado. If you’re interested in experiencing the state’s famous fall foliage, check out our trip to Rocky Mountains National Park! We will hook you up with local guides who will ensure you see everything there is to see!
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