As the leaves continue to change, adventure enthusiasts are flocking to Colorado’s trails to catch a glimpse of the golden hues. While fall is typically a crowded season at some of the state’s most popular leaf-peeping destinations, this year, it’s more important than ever to find some solitude among the foliage. So instead of hitting up your usual favorites, why not try one of these seven trails that offer incredible views without the crowd. Pro tip: Start early to ensure the most peaceful (and socially distant) experience.
Length (roundtrip): 17.1 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 3,300 feet
While everyone else is headed up to Kenosha or Guanella Pass to check out the changing aspens from behind a car window, stretch your legs along the Abyss Trail. Although usually done as an overnight, Abyss Trail opens to incredible views at mile-marker three while winding your way through aspen groves. Be sure to take one of the spur trails to view the yellow sea of changing colors along the mountainsides.
Length (roundtrip): 6.3 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 1,700 feet
Check out Colorado’s largest aspen grove with a quick hike off Kebler Pass connecting Crested Butte to Somerset. The views along this trail are jaw-dropping beautifully, bordering on unreal. With the craggy East and West Beckwith mountains as a background, we promise that the views won’t disappoint. Make sure to do this trail in a counterclockwise direction to avoid some fairly steep sections along the Dark Canyon loop.
Length (one-way): 29 miles
Approximate elevation gain: n/a
This is not technically a trail but a windy, narrow, dirt road high above the Deep Creek confluence of the Colorado River. It’s the perfect place to view patches of aspens and pop up a tent under a full moon. Even on a busy holiday weekend, this road is the epitome of seclusion—the only sounds you’ll hear are the whistling of the wind through quaking aspens.
Length (roundtrip): 4.1 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 1,400 feet
If you want to give your lungs a workout, look no further than Booth Creek Falls trail. A strenuous climb up the two miles to the falls, this trail follows the banks of Booth Creek through countless aspen stands. To get the most out from your adventure, start early in the day so you can see the golden colors pop as the sun rises across the sky. You can continue further to Booth Lake (adding 5 miles) but the aspens don’t grow after the falls.
Length (one-way): 42 miles
Approximate elevation gain: n/a
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re starring in an old western, take the bumpy dirt road up to Owl Creek Pass just outside Ridgway. The road is difficult in spots but winds through oceans of aspens culminating with views of the famous Chimney Rock. If you think it looks familiar, it’s because it probably does. Chimney Rock has been featured in many films, including the original True Grit with John Wayne.
Location: Woodland Park
Length (roundtrip): 5.0 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 1,000 feet
This under-appreciated trail boasts sweeping views of Pikes Peak and the Crags. You’ll find patches of aspens throughout, and with few people on the trail, you’re sure to feel alone in the wilderness here. This is an especially good trail for any out-of-towners needing to adjust to the altitude or novice hikers who aren’t ready for those big climbs yet.
Length (roundtrip): 5.3 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 850 feet
Want a family-friendly hike that will leave your kids in awe? Check out the West Brush Creek trail in Sylvan Lake State Park. The elevation gain across this trail is so gradual, you won’t even notice the climb. Plus, you’ll be so distracted by the countless aspen groves, you likely won’t notice anything going on in the background (cough, ahem, like loud toddlers).