Sunday, January 29, 2023
HomeTravel WritingDENVER POST: Fall colours in Colorado could make nearly any hike “epic”

DENVER POST: Fall colours in Colorado could make nearly any hike “epic”


The shuttle bus buzzed with pleasure as we approached the trailhead. You could possibly see it on the hikers’ wide-eyed faces, which lit up when the jagged, snow-dusted Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells appeared by means of the windshield.

The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, a 181,535-acre chunk of the Elk Mountains in White River Nationwide Forest, is a veritable playground for hikers. All path types, effort ranges and lengths can be found right here: out-and-backs, loops, lollipops and even thru-hikes to different cities.

Initially, we deliberate to hike the West Maroon Path from Aspen to Crested Butte, a fabled 12-mile trek over 12,500-foot West Maroon Move. We’d spend the evening in Crested Butte after which hike by on the identical path the following day. We modified our plans after operating into challenges arranging shuttles and lodging. As an alternative, we determined to make use of Aspen as a base for a few epic day hikes, beginning with a 12-mile out-and-back quest on West Maroon — on the peak of fall foliage.

As my group of 5 gathered on the trailhead, adjusting our trekking poles and ingesting tubes and checking route-tracking apps, different hikers handed by. There have been people in flip-flops headed to the paved path to Maroon Lake in addition to path runners and backpackers tackling the 4-Move Loop (a 28-mile legendary path). We day hikers stood within the center — actually and figuratively — questioning how far we’d make it on West Maroon Path earlier than having to show round to ensure we caught the ultimate shuttle again to Aspen Highlands at 5 p.m.

The West Maroon Path takes you to Crater Lake after which continues up a protracted glacial valley the place you slowly ascend over the rocky moraine, by means of willows after which tundra to the 12,500-foot go. I’d been trying ahead to the “city to city” facet of our hike; it made me consider trekking between villages within the Himalayas or Alps, or alongside the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I’ve heard tales of those hikes, and was desirous to strive the same alternative in Colorado, just a few hours’ drive from my house. I as soon as hiked from Littleton to Breckenridge alongside the Colorado Path and I bear in mind appreciating the linear nature of going so far as you possibly can every day, stopping solely to eat and perhaps soak your toes earlier than organising camp to sleep someplace close to the path, after which waking as much as do it another time.

However as we stepped by means of flaming-yellow aspen groves above Maroon Lake, I additionally appreciated simply being there, on that path, in that precise second. It didn’t matter the place we have been headed. My pal Nathan Dolenc, who thru-hiked the 485-mile Colorado Path from Denver to Durango in 2020, agreed.

“It’s concerning the accomplishment,” he mentioned, not the variety of miles or the top vacation spot. “If there’s a peak or a go to climb, then an out-and-back and a linear thru-hike will be fairly comparable.”

For me, the accomplishment was simply getting on the market and having fun with the colours and crisp air of fall in Colorado. We circled a couple of mile earlier than the highest of West Maroon Move and loved each step of the best way. And made the second-to-last shuttle again to city.

IF YOU GO

Be taught extra about shuttle and parking restrictions at aspenchamber.org/plan-trip/trip-highlights/maroon-bells/reservations.

Keep: Annabelle Inn, 232 W. Foremost St., Aspen; 877-266-2466, annabelleinn.com. Anticipate to pay $280 or extra, with a hiker-friendly breakfast to gas your day.

Eat: Down the block from the Annabelle, Mi Chola (411 W. Foremost St., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. day by day) has an inviting margarita menu and rooster chile verde to heat you up; 970-710-7076, aspenchola.com.



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