Favorite 5 Fall Mountain Hikes

Jason Cummings  |  September 14, 2022


Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and just happens to be one of the most magical times to head out into the mountains. Changing leaves paint the Colorado landscape stunning shades of orange, yellow, and red, and we’re lucky enough to be in the middle of all this natural beauty. As we ease into autumn weather, here are 5 of my favorite mountain hikes in Colorado:

1. Crater Lake

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Mileage: 3.5 mi.
Elevation Gain: 688 ft.
Average Time of Completion: 1 hr 44 mins

This popular out-and-back trail near Aspen leads you around the Maroon Bells for a beautiful hike in the White River National Forest. The trail is rocky and passes through Aspen groves with mountain views all around. If you’d like to extend your trip, there’s a short scenic loop trail on the Southwest side of Maroon Lake as well. 

2. Upper Piney River Falls Trail 

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Mileage: 5.9 mi.
Elevation Gain: 728 ft.
Average Time of Completion: 2 hr 26 mins

Located near Vail, the Upper Piney River Falls Trail offers spectacular views of open meadows and a rippling waterfall; it’s been compared as Vail’s version of the Maroon Bells. This trail is one of the best ways to see the fall colors in Colorado, and the smooth path offers plenty of spots for lunch or relaxation. This area is also popular for horseback riding as well. Note: as the trail enters the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, there are special regulations in place to protect its resources. See more info here.

3. Burning Bear Trail 

Difficulty Level: Easy
Mileage: 7.5 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,253 ft.
Average Time of Completion: 3 hr 28 mins

If you’re looking for more of a “stroll in the woods” type of hike, Burning Bear is an easy way to take in the fall colors of Colorado. Mountain biking and horseback riding are also popular on this trail. The route offers mountain views while walking along a creek and is known for being simple to follow.

4. Burro Loop Trail in Golden Gate State Park 

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Mileage: 4.9 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,272 ft.
Average Time of Completion: 2 hr 45 mins

This 4.9 mile loop trail near Golden with varied terrain is number four on our list of fall hikes. It is located inside the Golden Gate Canyon State Park, so there is an entry fee if you aren’t an annual pass holder. Pro tip: take the trail counter-clockwise at the start of the loop for a more strenuous hike.

5. Kebler Pass Road

Difficulty Level: Easy
Mileage: 31.1 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,571 ft.
Average Time of Completion: 13 hr 35 mins (walking)

For those that are less nature savvy, Kebler Pass Road near Crested Butte is a great trail for fall scenic drives. The trail begins off of Gunnison County Road 12 and is suitable for many different kinds of cars (you don’t necessarily need 4-wheel drive), but only some sections of the road are paved. There are also many trails that can be hiked on foot throughout the pass. Millions of huge Aspen trees create the colorful Autumn foliage of Kebler Pass - you don’t want to miss it!

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