Summer hiking in Aspen
Trail of the Buckskin Pass hike from Aspen, Colorado

hikes in Aspen

Region in Colorado, United States
Aspen Trail Map

Known as Colorado’s winter playground, mere mention of Aspen immediately conjures a vision of soft powder and towering, snow-capped mountains. However, this town’s charms don’t fade away when the snow melts. Spring and summer unveil Aspen in bright new colors, wild flowers peep up from the rocks and litter the meadows, and the mirrored lakes perfectly reflect the bright blue Colorado sky. Aspen is the ultimate destination for adventure in the Rocky Mountains.

Aspen is packed with things to do for those in search of thrills out in the countryside. Head for the mountains and climb high onto dramatic ridges, overlooking incredible Rocky Mountain vistas, or take to the fast-flowing waters and try your hand at whitewater rafting or kayaking. The scenery in this part of the Rockies is simply spectacular, with jaw-dropping views over the mountains, vibrant green valleys and serene, glittering lakes.

The town of Aspen boasts a rich history and a lively atmosphere, making it a wonderful base for a hiking trip. From here you can head out to a number of regions for hiking, whether around Mount Aspen itself, or nearby Snowmass, where you’ll find routes that snake through lush, flower-filled forests, or high ridge trails that rise above the tree line for phenomenal views.

What are you waiting for? Head to Aspen for high-altitude adventures and bag yourself one of Colorado’s 14ers, or simply dip your feet into a pristine mountain lake and enjoy the views. Whatever you’re looking for, Aspen has it all.

Top 10 Hikes In Aspen

Aspen has long been a major attraction for adrenaline junkies and adventure sports enthusiasts, with plenty of thrilling activities on offer in both summer and winter. In particular, if you’re looking for a challenging hike, and perhaps an opportunity to tick off one of Colorado’s iconic 14ers, Aspen is an excellent base, with access to seven of these impressive peaks. You’ll find plenty of strenuous day hikes and steep ascents that will challenge even the most enthusiastic and experienced hikers, so this is really the place to come if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure.

However, if you’re a beginner hiker, or simply looking for something a little more low-key, don’t despair! Aspen offers many low-elevation trails where you won’t need to wear yourself out or deal with the challenges of high altitude. Head for the lakes, rivers and streams and enjoy the lush scenery and family-friendly hiking and cycling trails. There’s a route here to suit everyone.

  • West Maroon Pass Hike: This classic route is one of the best hikes in Aspen, and one of our favorites in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. The views across Maroon Lake with Maroon Peak in the backdrop are incredible, and the panorama from the pass at the top is simply spectacular. You’ll have an uninterrupted view down onto the Purity Basin, set off by the looming Galena Mountain. There are several water crossings that can be treacherous during the snowmelt season, so bring trekking poles and waterproof shoes!
  • Lost Man Trail Hike: This splendid hike is a good option if you’re looking for a slightly less strenuous hike in Aspen, as the access route via the Independence Pass Highway helps you gain some elevation at the beginning. You’ll pass through a wooded alpine valley, filled with wildflowers, with incredible views over the imposing Geissler Mountain. The Lost Man Loop can also be extended as a popular one-night backpacking trip.
  • Midway Pass Hike: Looking for a way to avoid the crowds on the trails of Aspen? This is a quiet, peaceful route with incredible views into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, and Grizzly Peak, Independence Mountain and Green Mountain. The trail itself is lovely, passing by a tranquil alpine lake, which makes an excellent spot for a pit stop and a picnic. Take care in summer as this region is prone to afternoon thunderstorms, so you may get wet!
  • Buckskin Pass Hike: This hike requires a grueling climb, but you’ll start at one of the most photogenic lakes in the whole of the Rocky Mountains, and the views just keep getting better and better as you ascend to the pass. Once you reach the top you’ll be treated to an incredible panorama over Snowmass Mountain, and the crystal clear Snowmass Lake. This is one of our favorite challenging hikes in Aspen.
  • Maroon Lake Hike: Looking for an easy hike in Aspen? The route alongside Maroon Lake is a popular choice, and with good reason. The view of North Maroon Peak rising up behind the tranquil waters of the lake is simply breathtaking and is said to be one of the most photographed sights in the Rockies! Start early to avoid the crowds, and take your time as you contemplate the majesty of the Rocky Mountains and this incredible natural spectacle.
  • Crater Lake Hike: The trek to Crater Lake is one of the loveliest in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, with fantastic views of North Maroon Peak. The path contours around the north side of Maroon Lake, before gaining elevation through the trees and arriving at the east side of Crater Lake. Here you’ll have wonderful views over North Maroon Peak, Pyramid Peak and Sievers Mountain. The trail is usually quiet and allows a more intimate view of the beautiful mountains in this stunning region.
  • Electric Pass Hike: This epic hike is not for the faint-hearted, but you’ll be rewarded with one of the most stunning views over the Rocky Mountains. The climb starts quickly, with a relentless ascent above the roaring Pine Creek. You’ll pass through a beautiful hanging valley before reaching the Electric Pass at an elevation of 3962m. It’s best to go slowly and take care if you’re not used to hiking at elevation, but if you’re if good shape this is one of the best hikes in Aspen.
  • New York Creek Trail: This slightly challenging trail is the perfect way to escape the crowds in downtown Aspen. You’ll pass through a wonderful lush forest before climbing high above the tree line to the long ridge of New York Peak. Start early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and come prepared as you’ll unlikely to meet many other hikers on this beautiful, secluded trail.
  • Cathedral Lake Hike: Get ready to worship the glory of nature at this remarkable spot in the Rocky Mountains! The breathtaking Cathedral Mountain towers high above Cathedral Lake, a pristine body of water set in the midst of some truly spectacular scenery. The looming spire of Cathedral Peak is an impressive sight, flanked by Malemute Peak and Leahy Peak. This is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy a rest after the steep climb.
  • The Grottos Loop Hike: This easy route is one of the best family hikes in Aspen, passing through some truly otherworldly landscapes. The Roaring Fork River has shaped the rocks over thousands of years, creating a unique spectacle of strange, statuesque pillars. This route will also take you past the Ice Caves, small pools of water that freeze in winter, before reaching a stunning waterfall. Kids will love this route, packed with wonderful things to see and places to explore.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Aspen?

The best time to hike in Aspen is between June and September, when the trails are free of snow and it’s possible to access the highest-elevation routes. Although lower-elevation trails may be accessible in May and October, take care at this time, as you may find that many trails are still inaccessible. May and June can be very wet, as the snowmelt floods the rivers and streams, meaning that you may get wet feet if attempting any water crossings! However, early in the season the wildflowers decorate the trails with beautiful colors, textures and shapes, creating a magical setting for a hike.

July and August can be very busy, meaning that you may struggle to find accommodation and the trails may be crowded. There are also many culinary and cultural festivals throughout the summer, and the weather is perfect for hiking. However, if you want to escape the crowds, we’d recommend visiting in September when the aspen forests show off their finest colors and the trails are a little quieter. When the snows set in, Aspen is transformed into one of the best winter playgrounds in the United States, and you’ll find many opportunities for snowshoeing as well as other winter sports.

Other Outdoor Activities In Aspen

Although hiking is one of the most popular things to do, there are many other outdoor activities on offer in Aspen. This part of Colorado is a fantastic place for a backpacking trip, with many campgrounds and trails suitable for the entire family. Cycling enthusiasts will have plenty of opportunities to get out on the trail for either mountain biking or road biking. The fast-flowing rivers are a great place to try whitewater rafting, and the calmer lakes and streams are perfect for paddle boarding and canoeing. In winter, in addition to skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, you can try your hand at ice-skating on the frozen lakes, or get that adrenaline fix on a snowmobile or sleigh ride.

How To Plan A Trip To Aspen

Aspen is Colorado’s playground, winter or summer, and there’s never been a better time to explore this fantastic region! To help you get started, we’ve put together a guide to planning a trip to Aspen, with everything you’ll need to enjoy the perfect hiking adventure. You’ll find advice on when to go and where to stay, as well as insider tips on all the best hikes. It’s time to grab your hiking boots and head out on the trail!

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Aspen

What is Maroon Bells in Aspen?
The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, often described as some of the most photographed mountains in North America. Reflected in the glassy waters of Maroon Lake, these towering mountains create an incredible Rocky Mountain vista, surrounded by fields of wildflowers. The mountains get their name from their distinctive bell shape, and the soft red shale that covers their peaks, which glows a maroon color under the sun.

How far is Maroon Bells from Aspen?
The Maroon Bells are approximately 10 miles from Aspen.

Is it better to stay in Snowmass or Aspen?
Both Aspen and nearby Snowmass are pleasant places to stay and either one offers a good base for some of the best hikes in the Aspen area. Aspen is a little more developed, with more restaurants, bars and places to stay, but either one is ideal for a hiking trip. Whichever one you choose, you’re likely to spend some time visiting the other!

How many 14ers are there in Aspen?
Aspen is home to seven 14ers (legendary Colorado mountains that exceed elevations of 14,000 feet). These are North Maroon Bells, South Maroon Bells, Pyramid, Capitol, Castle and Snowmass, all in the Elk Mountains, and the nearby La Plata Peak, just over Independence Pass.

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The best hikes in Aspen

Trail of the Buckskin Pass hike from Aspen, Colorado

01. Buckskin Pass
Difficulty

10.0mi 3,346ft 5.5-8h

This hike starts from one of the most photogenic lakes in the entire Rocky Mountains.… Read More

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9.7Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenic views from the Electric Pass hike in Aspen, Colorado

02. Electric Pass
Difficulty

9.1mi 3,652ft 5.5-8h

This is hike has the most elevation gain on this list. The trail up to… Read More

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9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Lost Man Trail hike in Aspen, Colorado

03. Lost Man Trail
Difficulty

4.6mi 1,280ft 2.5-3.5h

This is another super high hike in the Colorado Rockies; however, access in on the… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the West Maroon Pass hike near Aspen, Colorado

04. West Maroon Pass
Difficulty

14.5mi 3,878ft 7.5-10.5h

One of the classic long hikes though the Maroon Bells Wilderness, the trek up to… Read More

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9.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery of the Midway Pass hike in Aspen, Colorado

05. Midway Pass
Difficulty

7.2mi 1,657ft 3.5-5h

This hike is a good way to avoid the crowds but still get a fantastic… Read More

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9.2Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Views from the Crater Lake hike near Aspen, Colorado

06. Crater Lake
Difficulty

4.1mi 581ft 1.5-2.5h

A classic hike through the Maroon Bells Wilderness, the trek out to Crater Lake leaves… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery on New York Creek trail hike in Aspen, Colorado

07. New York Creek Trail
Difficulty

8.7mi 2,129ft 4.5-6h

The less-traveled trail up New York Creek is certainly a fantastic way to hike away… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Views from the Maroon Lake hike in Aspen, Colorado

08. Maroon Lake
Difficulty

1.5mi 190ft 0.5-1h

Although crowded, the quick hike along Maroon Lake is definitely a must for anyone spending… Read More

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8.9Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Views from the Cathedral Lake hike in Aspen, Colorado

09. Cathedral Lake
Difficulty

5.9mi 2,090ft 3.5-5h

Although it is a steep hike, the alpine atmosphere obtained by reaching this stunning basin… Read More

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9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
The Grottos Loop hike near Aspen, Colorado

10. The Grottos Loop
Difficulty

0.6mi 82ft 0.5h

Hiking into the Grottos is like visiting an alien country. It’s different from all the… Read More

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8.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

Yes, there are more than 10

Aspen is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Aspen that you should take a look at as well

Aspen Mountain Trail Map

11. Aspen Mountain Trail
Difficulty

8.8mi 3,232ft 5-7.5h

Immerse yourself in the alpine terrain as you hike up one of Colorado’s beloved ski… Read More

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Lower Hunter Creek Trail Map

12. Lower Hunter Creek Trail
Difficulty

1.7mi 456ft 1h

Immerse yourself in a sea of lush aspens interspersed with towering pines along the Lower… Read More

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Lani White and Hunter Valley Loop Trail Map

13. Lani White and Hunter Valley Loop Trail
Difficulty

5.2mi 1,161ft 2.5-3.5h

The Lani White and Hunter Valley Loop Trail is an exciting adventure near Aspen, CO.… Read More

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Red Butte Trail

14. Red Butte Trail
Difficulty

0.9mi 440ft 0.5-1h

Boasting breathtaking views of Aspen and encompassing snow-capped peaks, the Red Butte Trail is a… Read More

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Ute Trail Map

15. Ute Trail
Difficulty

6.2mi 3,064ft 4.5-6h

The Ute Trail is a scenic summertime adventure along the slopes of one of the… Read More

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Linkins Lake Trail Map

16. Linkins Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.6mi 528ft 1-1.5h

Immerse yourself in Colorado’s high country as you venture the Linkins Lake Trail. Incredibly scenic,… Read More

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Grizzly Lake Trail Map

17. Grizzly Lake Trail
Difficulty

7.1mi 1,962ft 3.5-5h

The Grizzly Lake Hike is an undeniably scenic adventure near Aspen, Colorado. Boasting stunning alpine… Read More

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Difficult Creek Trail Map

18. Difficult Creek Trail
Difficulty

9.8mi 1,916ft 4.5-6h

There is nothing better than a scenic, peaceful nature walk, right? Well, the Difficult Creek… Read More

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Smuggler Mountain Trail

19. Smuggler Mountain Trail
Difficulty

14.0mi 3,179ft 6.5-9.5h

The Smuggler Mountain Trail is a crowd favorite amongst Aspen locals, and it is easy… Read More

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Tabour Creek Trail Map

20. Tabour Creek Trail
Difficulty

7.4mi 2,215ft 4-5.5h

Explore what the alpine terrain of Colorado has to offer along the Tabour Creek Trail.… Read More

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Hunter Creek Trail

21. Hunter Creek Trail
Difficulty

8.9mi 1,040ft 3.5-5h

The Hunter Creek Trail, though conveniently located near Aspen’s city center, will transport you to… Read More

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Sunnyside Trail Map

22. Sunnyside Trail
Difficulty

10.8mi 2,684ft 5.5-7.5h

The Sunnyside Trail is a challenging, but highly rewarding day-hike located just outside of Aspen’s… Read More

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Independence Townsite

23. Independence Townsite
Difficulty

0.4mi 43ft 0.5h

Explore the Independence Townsite, a preserved ghost town in the valley of the Roaring Fork… Read More

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Taylor Pass Hike

24. Taylor Pass Hike
Difficulty

13.8mi 2,444ft 6-8.5h

The Taylor Pass Hike is an incredibly scenic adventure in Colorado’s high country. This trek… Read More

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Weller Lake Trail

25. Weller Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.1mi 233ft 0.5h

The Weller Lake Hike is an incredibly picturesque alpine excursion that can be enjoyed by… Read More

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Maroon Creek Trail

26. Maroon Creek Trail
Difficulty

6.9mi 1,161ft 3-4h

The Maroon Creek Trail will undoubtedly leave you at a loss for words. Though the… Read More

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Independence and Lost Man Lakes Hike

27. Independence and Lost Man Lakes Hike
Difficulty

5.5mi 1,601ft 3-4h

What’s better than one picturesque alpine lake? Two! The Independence and Lost Man Lakes Hike… Read More

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Rio Grande Trail West

28. Rio Grande Trail West
Difficulty

7.5mi 325ft 2.5-3.5h

Featuring a picturesque running river, cascades, lush vegetation and mountain views, the Rio Grande Trail… Read More

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White River Ajax Trail

29. White River Ajax Trail
Difficulty

3.3mi 597ft 1.5-2h

Enjoy wonderful vistas of Aspen’s active cityscape below as you wander the White River Ajax… Read More

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Triangle Peak Hike

30. Triangle Peak Hike
Difficulty

4.9mi 1,870ft 3-4h

The Triangle Peak Trail summits a small, but impressively scenic peak near Aspen. Though not… Read More

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Ute Rock Hike Map

31. Ute Rock Hike
Difficulty

1.6mi 1,060ft 1.5-2h

Hike up some vertiginous terrain to Ute Rock, a rocky outcrop on the slope of… Read More

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Crater Lake and Maroon Creek Hike

32. Crater Lake and Maroon Creek Hike
Difficulty

10.4mi 3,107ft 5.5-8h

The Crater Lake and Maroon Creek Hike is an epic one-way adventure through the Colorado… Read More

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Petroleum and Anderson Lakes Trail Map

33. Petroleum and Anderson Lakes Trail
Difficulty

4.1mi 1,122ft 2-3h

Explore the Petroleum and Anderson Lakes Trail and relish in the unforgettable highland scenery. Hike… Read More

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Lost Man Reservoir Trail Map

34. Lost Man Reservoir Trail
Difficulty

1.3mi 171ft 0.5h

Explore the stunning alpine terrain along the Lost Man Reservoir Trail. Short and sweet, this… Read More

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Richmond Ridge Trail

35. Richmond Ridge Trail
Difficulty

3.8mi 686ft 1.5-2.5h

The Richmond Ridge Trail is a stunning high-country adventurer that exhibits the grandeur of Colorado’s… Read More

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Independence Pass Ridgeline Trail

36. Independence Pass Ridgeline Trail
Difficulty

4.7mi 1,198ft 2.5-3.5h

The Independence Pass Ridgeline Trail is a stunning high-country expedition that exhibits sweeping mountain views.… Read More

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Tiehack Hike Map

37. Tiehack Hike
Difficulty

2.9mi 1,709ft 2.5-3h

Seeking a killer workout? The Tiehack Hike is a butt-burner of a trek in the… Read More

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Montezuma Basin Trail

38. Montezuma Basin Trail
Difficulty

8.8mi 2,835ft 5-7h

The Montezuma Basin Trail is an epic hike that attracts outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts.… Read More

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River Run Trail

39. River Run Trail
Difficulty

3.0mi 276ft 1-1.5h

Reconnect with nature and learn more about Colorado’s historical mining operations along the River Run… Read More

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East of Aspen Trail

40. East of Aspen Trail
Difficulty

6.3mi 269ft 2-3h

The East of Aspen Trail is a great escape into nature. Conveniently located near the… Read More

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New York Creek Trail Map

41. New York Creek Trail
Difficulty

7.8mi 2,300ft 4-6h

The New York Creek Hike is a stunning adventure through Colorado’s high country. Featuring lush… Read More

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