Who needs New England when Colorado has some of the most majestic fall hue displays right in our own backyard? Celebrate the season’s splendor (it may snow in the High Country soon) with an escape to the mountains for a last-chance glimpse. Here, some best bets for leaf gazing:
Near Breckenridge: (about 1:40 minutes from Denver)
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
1. Take a scenic drive or bike your way through Boreas Pass Road
Why: Rising from Breckenridge to over 11,400 feet, Boreas Pass Road offers numerous views of the town below and surrounding mountains. Trails parallel the upper, dirt portion of the road, where golden aspens are plentiful. Drive or ride it as an out-and-back.
Getting there: At the south end of Breckenridge, find the intersection where Highway 9 meets Boreas Pass Road.
2. Hike along the French Gulch (includes access to the B&B Trail, Reiling Dredge Trail, and Minnie Mine
Why: Take in a bit of history while viewing aspen groves. The trails of French Gulch pass through Breckenridge’s “Golden Horseshoe”—one of Colorado’s most fertile mining regions—where dozens of sites were once active.
Getting there: Via the B&B Mines Trailhead, access is located about one mile uphill from the Wellington/French Gulch/Reiling Road intersection.
Near Glenwood Springs: (about 2:50 minutes from Denver)
1. Bike the Rio Grande Recreation Trail along the Roaring Fork River
Why: Built in the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western railroads corridor, the 44-mile trail from Glenwood Springs to Aspen offers panoramic mountain views, which are dappled with golden and fiery red hues now. It is a relatively flat trail with some rolling hills. The path is paved for 33 miles from Glenwood Springs to Woody Creek, and is a soft-surface dirt trail for the last 11 miles into Aspen.
Getting there: The Rio Grande Trail begins at Two Rivers Park on Devereux Road, where the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers meet.
2. Hike near Sunlight Mountain Resort
Why: Before Sunlight becomes a winter wonderland, take in the crisp air and fall colors while exploring the resort’s miles and miles of trails (all levels of difficulty) Tip: The view from the top of Compass Mountain is one you won’t want to miss.
Getting there: Sunlight Mountain Resort is located about 10 miles from downtown Glenwood Springs on 10901 County Road 117.
Near Steamboat Springs: (about 3:15 minutes from Denver)
1. Run along the Spring Creek Trail
Why: The not-too-difficult terrain is ideal for trail running. The path climbs gently for five miles through a wide canyon that is glowing gold right now with ferns and aspens.
Getting there: Once you are in town, the trailhead is located right next to the high school.
2. Bike any of the various trails within Emerald Mountain Park- Howelsen Hill
Why: With miles of new trails for biking, this has become a mountain biker’s playground. Don’t miss the Bluffs loop, which will lead you to the top of Howelsen Hill for views breathtaking views of the stunning foliage, Mt. Werner, and town.
Getting there: Park at the Howelsen Lodge and take any of the trails up the mountain.
—Image courtesy of the Glenwood Springs Chamber