Get out and get moving.
Aspen is known for its outdoor activity. Busy winters are filled with skiing, snowshoeing, skinning and backcountry touring. With over 379 miles of trails, Aspen has a lot to offer beyond the ski slopes. As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, the itch to connect with the outdoors and hike, walk, trail run or bike is ever present. From low-key trails to more technical terrain, there is something for everyone. While not all trails are created equal, it can be overwhelming to choose what is right for you. Welcome to the art of the hike.
Hiking allows us to connect with nature, find some peace of mind and get in a workout. There can be a certain art to hiking. Between choosing your route, considering elevation gains and/or losses, and weather changes, putting thought into your hike is a good idea for a few reasons: first being safety and comfort level.
So, you want to get out and stretch your legs? Here are some trails to consider, carefully thought out by Aspen Alpine Guides Managing Partner Stephen Szoradi. “The obvious requirements for any outdoor activity,” he notes, “would be to know the route, know the conditions, know the weather forecast and expect things to change. Layers of clothing appropriate for your activity, hydration and calories are all essentials.” For more information, visit the city of Aspen’s extensive Aspen Area Trails for detailed trail maps.
This mostly single-track trail provides easy access from town (bonus!). It has rocks and boulders, and meanders in and around the creek with multiple bridge crossings. There is “some elevation gain, but it’s generally a good short option while solo or single file with a partner,” Szoradi says. It also links to other trails in Upper Hunter Creek Valley, with a connector to Smuggler Mountain trails, as well as links to Hunter Flats, Four Corners and Van Horn Park. It is a versatile and less intimidating hike.
This out-and-back provides a fairly mellow single-track trail with minimal elevation gain. It includes Lost Man Reservoir, as well as a diversion canal that routes water from the west side of the Continental Divide to the east side via Grizzly Reservoir.
Sunnyside Trail loop in either direction—to or from Rio Grande Trail/Stein Park to Hunter Creek—offers a steep up-down off the Stein Park start, then has a traverse through Aspen and Pine forests. This is a beautiful trail that is sure to challenge even the most fit of people.
This trail has two directions that are both typically out-and-back hikes. The trail running south follows the Continental Divide ridge line to various peaks with views of the Elk and Collegiate mountain ranges. It is conducive to social walks and quickly turns into a single track near the trailhead. “The less used route is a great option for those looking for more adventure and would not typically be considered a hike, but rather a rock scramble. Both routes follow exposed ridgelines, and wind and storms, including lightning, should be seriously considered,” Szoradi advises.
Looking for something less crowded with a lake view? Consider the North Fork Trail, but be prepared to commit. This hike is nontechnical, but does come with elevation gain that will take you above the tree line. The reward here is the view from the lake that looks to upper Fryingpan Wilderness.
Green Mountain, well, “It’s kind of like Fight Club—we don’t talk about it,” Szoradi says. Make sure you’re in the know with this one: The trailhead isn’t marked. Located between Lost Man trailhead and Independence Pass trailhead, this hike comes with breathtaking views and a lot of adventure.
Photography by: From top: Ivana Cajina/Unsplash; David Marcu/Unsplash