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8 Hikes Not to Miss This Summer in the Aspen Area

| June 1, 2016 | Lifestyle

Grab your hiking boots and hit the trails as summer has (finally!) arrived in Aspen. Here are our favorites trails, with ranges of difficulty and elevation, in the Aspen area.

Smuggler Trail
Difficult: Easy-Moderate


This trailhead accesses Smuggler Mountain Road, one of the most popular recreation areas in the immediate Aspen vicinity. Any spring, summer or fall afternoon, Smuggler Mountain Road is busy with Aspenites hiking, running, mountain biking, and walking their dogs. Smuggler Road provides a short (1-1/2 mile) work out with great views of Aspen from the look-out point, which makes it very popular. You can access the Hunter Creek Trail or continue to Warren Lakes.

Rio Grande Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 7,700-7,900 feet

This is both a hiking and biking trail. The trail starts behind the Post Office on Puppy Smith Road. The first two miles of the trail are paved and then becomes a dirt trail after crossing Cemetery Lane. The trail runs from Aspen 45 miles down the valley to Glenwood Springs.

Hunter Creek
Difficult: Easy-Moderate
Elevation: 8,900-10,400 feet

The trail begins just east of the apartments on Lone Pine Road or directly off of the Rio Grande Trail extension, which was completed in 2013. This is a gradual uphill climb along the Hunter Creek towards Hunter Valley. To access the upper trail, drive north on Mill Street, veer left onto Red Mountain Road and follow for 1.1 miles to Hunter Creek Road. Turn right onto Hunter Road and follow the signs to the parking lot. Upper portions of the trail pass through alpine meadows scattered with several abandoned homestead cabins. Miles one way: 6.5.

Sunnyside Trail
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Elevation: 8,000-10,000 feet


The first part of the trail contains a series of switchbacks through sagebrush and scrub oak. About one mile along the trail, you will cross a driveway and then continue on to Red Mountain. The trail finally joins with the Hunter Creek Trail in the Hunter Creek Valley. As there are many spurs that can lead to one getting lost, a topographical map is recommended. Miles one way: 6.3.

Difficulty: Easy

The old town of Ruby is an abandoned mining camp. Drive east on Highway 82 for 11 miles to the Lincoln Creek Road turnoff. Follow the dirt road six miles to Grizzly Reservoir. At this point the road becomes a four-wheel drive road. You can begin your hike here. The road continues five miles to the ghost town of Ruby.

Grizzly Lake
Difficulty: Moderate

The hike is 3.6 miles (one way) in length with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. A moderate hike until the end where you have 1/4 of a mile of switchbacks.

Ute Trail
Difficulty: Difficult


The trail starts close to town on Ute Avenue. The sign for the trail is approximately 0.4 miles up Ute Avenue on the right if you are headed east. It is steady uphill with switchbacks, 0.9 miles and 1,000 vertical feet to a rock outcropping. The view of Aspen from the rock outcropping is spectacular.

Difficult: Easy

This is a popular area for picnicking and exploring just east of Aspen up Highway 82. There is a waterfall, some interesting rock formations, an ice cave, and numerous short trails. This is a great area for families.

For even more detailed trailhead directions, visit

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