Hiking in Aspen
Ute Trail (Aspen)
It takes a bit of work, but the fantastic view from this rocky promontory is your well earned reward. The Ute Trail in Aspen is very steep and heavily used. Some Aspenites ascend the trail daily to condition themselves. The view of Aspen from the rocky promontory at the high point of the trail is a generous reward for the persistent hiker. Despite the proximity of people, there have been several reported sightings of bears along this trail. That fact (plus the trail’s steepness) makes this hike not suitable for dogs or for children. Some people elect to ride the Silver Queen Gondola up Aspen Mountain (operating weekends in May and September, and daily from June through August) and then take one of several trails back down to the valley (including connections to the Ute Trail.) Stop by the gondola office for information and a trail map. Keep in mind though that it is 3,000+ feet of knee-crunching downhill from the 11,212-foot gondola terminus to town.
Snowmass Village Nature Trail
This gentle little trail loop has “take the kids” written all over it. Meandering easily up toward Divide Road and the high country west of Snowmass Village, the hike offers up wildflowers to identify, the ruins of a miner’s cabin to explore, and a creek to splash in. Anyone with a hankering for wilderness on a small-scale will enjoy this jaunt.
Rio Grande Trail West
The volatile Roaring Fork River dominates the first part of this easy, relatively flat hike, thundering through a gray-rock canyon where whitewater rushes past sun-baked rocks and feeds cool, inviting pools. As the trail climbs away from the river, the environment becomes arid. Scrub clings to the hillsides above the wide track; the air gets noticeably hotter; and the cyclists that share the trail with hikers get grumpier. Then, around the proverbial next bend, water appears to bleed from the rock overhanging the route. Cascading gently into a pool alongside the trail, and streaking the hillside with mineral color and lichen, the little waterfall makes for a delightful turnaround point.