5 Colorado Hikes for the Best Fall Colors

Fall colorful colorado leaves foliage color

Fall officially begins on September 22 and lasts through the middle of October. Since Colorado has such a short Fall season, you'll need to have your hikes selected, your weekends blocked off, and your backpack ready to hit the road. Starting your hikes the weekend before the official start to fall will put you in a position to see the best hues of yellow, orange, and red as the aspens shed their leaves for the coming winter. Here are five colorful trails, selected from each color zone to make the best of the five weekends of fall in Colorful Colorado.

Hiking Tip: Make sure to pack for extreem weather shifts. High in the mountains, Fall can quickly become Winter if you are not paying attention to the clouds looming in the distance.

Alberta Falls Trail, Rock Mountain National Park
Weekend #1 | Sept. 17 & 18

Location: Rock Mountain National Park, Colorado
Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy

During the early parts of the season Rocky Mountain National Park begins to turn. While the entire area between Estes Park and Grand Lake will be full of color, many recommend Alberta Falls Trail. This is a fairly easy trail which enables most skill levels. Make sure to ask the Rangers for their advice when you arrive. They may be able to point you to a better trail for that day.

Maroon Bells Fall Colors Colorado Aspen

Maroon Peak Trail, Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness
Weekend #2 | Sept. 24 & 25

Location: Outside of Aspen, Colorado
Distance: 11.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Are you looking for the iconic Colorado fall in the Rockies photo? This is the place to be. While this trail may not be for the beginner hiker, the views will be spectacular. Beginning at Maroon Lake, you’ll quickly hike into an aspen forest full of the glittering brilliance of golden leaves.

This is a very popular area. Plan ahead and be aware of the parking situation. Check out this article from TheDenverChannel.com that details how to take the iconic photo of Maroon Bells.

Tony’s Trail, Crested Butte
Weekend #3 | Oct. 1 & 2

Location:  Crested Butte, Colorado
Distance: 2.8+ miles
Difficulty: Easy

Planning a weekend in Crested Butte? You won’t need a car to hike up into the fall colors. From the east side of town, pick up Tony’s Trail and take a casual fall foliage walk or connect up with Deli Loop, Upper Loop, or Upper Upper Loop for an eight to 11-mile hike.

Colorado Fall Hiking Leaves Colors

Deadhorse Trail, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Weekend #4 | Oct. 8 & 9

Location:  Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Distance: 4.1 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate

One of Colorado’s lesser knows National Parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is steeper and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Plus, the North Rim of the park has spectacular fall aspen groves. Take the Deadhorse Trail to hike through the golden rustling leaves with occasional overlooks to peer down into the canyon and south to the San Juan Mountains.

Deep Creek Trail, Uncompahgre National Forest
Weekend #5 | Oct. 15 & 16

Location: Near Telluride, Colorado
Distance:  6.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Nested in the last fall color zone, Telluride Colorado has many trails to offer. However, Deep Creek trail offers a forest of aspens along with panoramic views of Telluride Ski Resort across the valley. Since this hike is in the last stages for fall colors, call the Forest Service station in Delta, Colorado to check on the speed of the turning leaves.