Colorado is well known for its beautiful aspen trees, with quaking leaves that change from green to vibrant , translucent yellow between mid-September and mid-October – the exact time of the change varies each year based on summer rainfall.
Take these scenic hikes from spring through fall to get a glimpse of the aspens, green or gold, around Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
Mueller State Park
In order to avoid afternoon showers, morning is usually the best time to start your hike. The park is about a 45-minute drive from Downtown Colorado Springs. While the hike does require a $7 entrance pass, it can be used for an entire day including onsite events. Stop by the Visitor Center first to pick up a map detailing the 55 miles of trails. You can spend all day hiking in Mueller State Park, enjoying the beautiful aspens and watchable wildlife. The best hike to view the aspens is Cheesman Ranch Loop. It’s a moderate 5.4-mile trail that weaves in and out of aspen groves and meadows on the north side of the park. Pack a picnic to enjoy while, or after, exploring.
A full list of hikes can be found here.
Please note that pets are not permitted on the trails in Mueller State Park.
If you still have time in the afternoon, stop by the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center nearby for an amazing tour of the wolf sanctuary. If you enjoy camping, Mueller State Park offers 132 tent camp sites, 17 RV sites, cabins, and yurts.
Start your morning with a hearty breakfast then head to the tiny town of Green Mountain Falls just off Highway 24. The trailhead starts here. This free trail is six miles round-trip (about seven miles when you include the hike from parking to the trailhead) and will take you to South Catamount Reservoir found along the Pikes Peak Highway.
You won’t see many aspen trees toward the beginning of the trail, but once you get to a spot called the Garden of Eden, you’ll be able to see the aspens along the rest of the hike. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also see a wide variety of wildflowers along the way. Make sure to take the dirt road to the South Catamount Reservoir. The aspens are beautiful along the road and once you get to the reservoir, you’ll have a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak.
Pack plenty of water and snacks or lunch in case you get hungry. And don’t forget your camera!
The hike could take between 2-5 hours depending on how often you rest and enjoy the scenery. Find more details here.
If you’d like to stay overnight close to this trail, the Outlook Lodge is a rustic cabin within walking distance of the trailhead.
The Crags trail is a great hike to view aspens and enjoy a spectacular view of the area. The trailhead starts in Divide, Colorado near the Crags Campground.
Stroll along a stream to view the aspen trees that lead to Rampart Reservoir. The easy trail is 2.6 miles round trip and takes about 1.5 hours. The trailhead starts in Woodland Park.
Barr Trail is the 12.6 mile (one way) hike to the summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. You’ll find great views and some leaf peeping along the way. Be sure to start early and give yourself the entire day for this hike. A popular choice is to hike half way, then spend the night at Barr Camp before reaching the 14,115-foot peak.
Seven Bridges is an up and back trail at the top of North Cheyenne Cañon. As you follow the trail, it leads you over seven bridges that cross the meandering Cheyenne Creek. There is a beautiful aspen grove past the 7th bridge.
Thousands struck with gold fever made their way into the area on the southwest side of Pikes Peak in the 1890s. Most of them walked or rode horses. Their goal was to reach the Cripple Creek & Victor Mining District, where newly found gold was bringing promises of easy-found wealth. Today, hikers can enjoy a series of trails that lead through the wealthy of gold mining that made this area famous during the Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush.
Want more ways to experience the fall colors? Here’s a list of suggested scenic drives.
Looking for more trails? Check out our Top 25 Hiking and Biking Trails