Don't trade in your hiking boots for ski boots just yet! Take advantage of the chilly fall air for these four weekend hikes you'll never forget.
Smuggler Mountain Trail (Easy) Any list of early fall hikes needs to begin with Smuggler Mountain Trail. Open year-round, this trek is the perfect way to watch the Roaring Fork Valley transform into its winter wonderland. Unlike the daunting switchbacks of the Ute Trail (see below) the Smuggler Mountain Trail offers a gradual 1.4-mile climb up a wide dirt road. Allow yourself 45 minutes to an hour to reach the first lookout point and enjoy an amazing view of town.
Cathedral Lake (Intermediate) While Maroon Bells might receive all the fame for its picturesque scenery, Cathedral Lake is equally as beautiful and often times less crowded. The 5.5-mile hike requires grit and determination, but the Instagram-worthy photos from the top will make your friends jealous of your summer adventures. When you finish, stop by the trailhead’s neighboring Pine Creek Cookhouse and order the Butcher and Cheese plate, packed with the protein necessary to recover from your hike.
The Rim Trail (Intermediate/Hard) Located in Snowmass Village, the Rim Trail offers unique access to sprawling meadows and panoramic views. The terrain is suitable for hiking, running and biking. Renowned for the panoramic views of Snowmass, this hike offers steep switchback sections that are guaranteed to leave you winded. In warmer weather the sun beats down hard, so be sure to pack sunscreen for this 7.8-mile hike. Or cut it short and turnaround at Spiral Point, making it a 3-mile journey that still packs in the views.
Ute Trail (Hard) In close proximity to town, this cardio-intensive trail begins near Ute Avenue. After 1,000 vertical feet of hard work, tired hikers can sit and catch their breath on a natural rock formation that provides unparalleled views of town. For those who dread the incessant knee pounding of downhill hiking, keep moving uphill until you reach the top of Ajax Mountain and earn a rewarding gondola ride down to Aspen (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends only; daily). Allow yourself 1-2 hours to complete the first part of the trail, and make sure the hot tub is on for when you get back!