I love Colorado. I also love hiking. I’d like to share two of my favorite hikes in Colorado.
MAROON BELLS (Aspen, CO) Aspen is gorgeous, so of course, hiking in Aspen is spectacular. The views while hiking the Maroon Bells are simply breathtaking. I took the 6 mile round trip to the pristine Crater Lake. The hike began with ease. However, it quickly became an uphill, rocky climb and proved to be quite difficult. It is not impossible, as there were definitely hikers of all ages and experience. We stopped many times as we climbed the mountains. It also allowed us opportunities to chat with other hikers and also admire the gorgeous scenery. The trail is lush with trees of all shapes, sizes and colors. Finally reaching the lake felt like a huge accomplishment, and the views were well worth the rather tiresome hike.
We woke up early and took our own vehicle up to the trail head. If you opt to do this, plan to arrive before 8 AM. After 8 AM the only way to access the trail head is by taking a shuttle from Aspen Highlands (Cost is $16). While I didn’t take the shuttle, I hear it is very nice and includes a bike rack, in case you would like to take your bike. Some people opt to hike or bike up to the trail head and then take the shuttle back down to the Aspen Highlands (which you can do for free). It is a nice work out, if that is what you are looking for. However, if you are looking for a hike into the mountains with beautiful views, I highly suggest hiking in from the trail head.
OURAY PERIMETER TRAIL (Ouray, CO) My family has been vacationing in Ouray County since I was a child, and about 6 years ago, we built a vacation home in the small mountain town of Ridgway. On my most recent trip, we opted to hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail. To better understand this trail, you need to know that Ouray is a small town nestled in a valley and surrounded by mountains. So, the Perimeter Trail wraps through the mountains above the town. The trail is about 5 miles, and there are various access points to the trail along the path, so you can opt to start and finish anywhere along the trail. You do not have to commit to hiking all 5 miles of the trail at one time.
We conveniently accessed the trail head from behind our friend’s townhouse, across the street from the Ouray Visitors’ Center. We stepped outside and began our climb up the trail to the first stop of Cascade Falls about ¾ of a mile from our first access point. Cascade Falls is a neat spot, because you can see it from afar when you are in town. So, to view it up close is a nice contrast from what you typically see. The size of the waterfall depends on the amount of rain the city is currently seeing. So, every visit to the falls will bring you a new view.
We hiked through gorgeous and lush greenery along a rocky dirt trail. Our group ranged from 30 to 70 year olds. So, while tough, it was definitely achievable for any age and hiking level. With limited time, we ended our hike at Cascade Falls, however I plan to finish the trail during my next visit. I’d like to see the other stops along the trail including sites like the Amphitheater and Baby Bathtubs.
Ouray is a magical city to visit, and easily walkable once you are there. The Perimeter Trail is a great summer afternoon activity that is easily accessible and achievable for any visitor. I cannot wait to return and do more of the trail.
Michael Zullo says
Very good article, Jessica. We enjoyed reading it. Fantastic photos. We love hiking. We’ve been to Colorado Springs – – enjoying the beautiful scenery in Pike National Forest. So, next trip to the Centennial State, we’ll put a hiking adventure in Aspen on our list of things to do.
Jessica Starkschall says
Thanks! Yes, Aspen is a must! I also love Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs! Hiking is such a great way to get fresh air, exercise and spend quality time with people!!