Best Hiking In Colorado In October – Aspens have special health as they turn fiery yellow and red. Flickering like flames in the wind brings dying fantasy haunts to life. This list of the best fall hikes in Colorado gives you an overview of where to go to see the show without the crowds.
Colorado’s fall season is a must-do on any list of things to do in the Rockies. There are countless things to do in Colorado in the fall, but hiking should be at the top of your list.
Best Hiking In Colorado In October
After spending 13 years combing the Rocky Mountains, I’ve put together this awesome list of the best fall hikes in Colorado.
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If you want to experience Colorado Falls like a local and not a tourist, you’ve come to the right place. I’m a real pro when it comes to being outdoors without the Colorado crowds.
For the past decade, I’ve tracked fall colors in Colorado, and even timed my wedding to the peak of the leaves in the Rocky Mountains. So you’ve definitely come to the right place if you want to experience the beauty of fall in Colorado without the crowds.
I often get asked when the leaves change in Colorado. It turns out that every year is a little different. However, there are some general rules.
Autumn will arrive a little later this year thanks to the dry summer. Prime viewing for most of the state (except the southern mountain ranges) occurs around the third week of September.
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With average snowfall and a lack of precipitation, the poplars will be fully colored this season, but surrounding vegetation may dry out early. The leaves will first turn in the cooler northern part of the state around the 18th, while the southern part of the state will see peak colors in early October.
Local Tip: If you plan to watch the leaves along the I-70 corridor or Interstate 285, it’s rare to go wrong with the third weekend in September.
Each year the poplars show their magic at a slightly different time. This is largely due to rainfall and weather conditions throughout the year. Generally, the leaves begin to turn between the second week of September and October.
Foliage season, as it is often called, begins in Colorado at the northern tip of the state and slowly descends south. Peak time for aspen viewing at Colorado’s most popular picnic spots is usually between the second and fourth week of September.
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Let’s dive into the best fall hikes in Colorado to put on your bucket list this year. This list of hikes gives you the best hikes in the mountains of Colorado during the fall season. Each excursion offers something a little different. All hikes on this list are suitable for dogs unless otherwise stated.
If you’re looking for great mountain scenery without the crowds, head to Ptarmigan Lake. The trail itself is moderate with a few steep sections, but nothing too difficult.
There are many lakes along the way, each worth exploring. If you’re lucky enough to catch an early snowfall here, it’s a real treat! The bright colors of fall contrast dramatically with the snow-capped peaks.
Difficulty: Medium Duration: 3 hours Dog friendly? Yes Red Tape: The trailhead is right next to the Cottonwood Trail and easy to get to. Just be sure to check for road closures.
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Local Tip: Don’t forget to visit the top of the Cottonwood Trail for a great fall ride in Colorado.
Colorado Trail parts 5 and 6 are totally relaxed during Aspen season. Unless you want to be on the road with hundreds or even thousands of people, you should avoid the area like the plague.
Instead, consider tackling Colorado Trail Part 4. As one of the best places for fall color in Colorado, you’re sure to get your fair share of fall.
This is going to be a tough hike. There are a lot of big windmills on this hike with the elevation gain being over 3200 feet. However, you will climb through pristine aspen groves.
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Go ahead, take a minute and walk in the middle of a ditch, stop and listen to the tranquility around you.
After the climb, the hike opens out into a beautiful alpine meadow. The variety of herbs will have you sailing through a sea of colors. It’s a magical experience located just a stone’s throw from Denver.
Distance traveled: 16.1 miles one way. Cars are best transported by bus unless you can walk more than 30 miles per day. Another option is to walk from the beginning of the part to the valley, have a snack, relax and admire the variety of flora, then return.
Located less than an hour from Denver, this trail packs a big buzz for the lone fall buck. The drive is beautiful and you can relax by the lake after a hike.
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Climb a series of steep switchbacks (remember, you have to go back up) and meander through a beautiful alpine valley full of color. Take one final push to Lake Superior and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and plenty of beautiful scenery.
When most people imagine falling in Colorado, the first thing they think of are cottonwoods in the fall. With a place like the Burro Trail to Windy Peak, it’s easy to see why.
However, I will be the first to admit that this is definitely a heavily trafficked track on weekends. The Burro Trail deserves my vote for the best weekday foliage escape in Colorado.
The Golden Gate Canyon is only about 20 minutes from Golden. When I went here on a Friday morning I had the whole place to myself and it was magical, making this my favorite fall trip near Denver (and one of the best hikes near Evergreen too )!
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Another great place to soak up the glory of Aspen Care. Although this trail is rated difficult on AllTrails.com, it is a moderate trail. The top of Windy Peak offers breathtaking views of the hills, with Colorado fall colors that will knock your knees out.
Trail Facts: Burro to Windy Peak is a 6.4 mile loop trail with approximately 1,900 feet of vertical gain. Located just off Drew Hill Road, it is easily accessible by any vehicle. There are other beginner trails you can repeat in the area that offer stunning scenery for no profit.
Difficulty: Medium Duration: 3.5 hours Dog friendly? Yes on the red ribbon leash: $10 park entry fee. Pay at the self-service kiosk
Upper Piney Falls is quite simply one of the best hiking trails in Colorado. Located in one of the best places to experience fall colors in Colorado, Upper Piney Falls is a must-see.
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Start near a scenic lake and walk through the enchanted poplar forest to a scenic waterfall.
Wear big early as you climb through a beautiful aspen grove. Arrive early and enjoy the morning light filtering through the shimmering aspen leaves. Budding hikers can continue on the trail to the Mountaineer Cut Trail which winds up to Great Kneeknocker Pass.
Local Tip: The Kneeknocker Trail is a challenging and very rewarding trail for avid hikers (9.1 miles with lots of tricky routes and 3,221 foot gains).
Difficulty: easy to medium Duration: 3 hours Dog friendly? Yes on red ribbon handlebars: one hour drive on a wash road (suitable for touring cars) is required to reach the trailhead.
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Fall in Colorado goes beyond the magnificent foliage of aspen trees. High mountain lakes have their place in Colorado’s best fall hikes. It is durable, long and beautiful. Salmon and Willow lakes are no exception.
As one of the most popular areas in the range, it still isn’t too crowded. For starters, there is no overnight parking in the nearest driveway.
What it lacks in ease, it makes up for in beauty. Although I wasn’t here in the fall, I can tell by the little tint of color that this place will be great from mid-September until the end.
East Thorn and Red Peak dominate the valley with its fine ridgelines and stunning dodecahedrons. The trail culminates at Upper Willow Lake, where you come face to face with the famous towers. Colorado, you are simply sexy.
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Most approaches are through dead pines and beetles. Be prepared for some shade and lots of walking over deciduous trees. You didn’t think it would be easy, did you? They are always all gory.
Difficulty: Medium Difficult Duration: 6 hours Dog friendly? Yes to Red Ribbon Handlebar: Overnight parking on the road is not permitted. A limited number of parking spaces are available.
Well this trail is great in the fall. We decided to do this hike in early fall with lots of smoke so technically we didn’t notice the changing colors but since you will literally be walking through the aspen forests you have wide stretches of open spaces open overlooking hills covered with aspen groves. You will have amazing views and this is a must do fall hike in Colorado.
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