One of the perks of living along Colorado's Front Range is the ability to hop in your car and be just a short trip from nature, and we think fall is the best time to take advantage of the great outdoors and hit the trials. There are no bugs, fewer people, and—if you time it right—you can see the golden hues of the aspen trees as they change. Here are four of our favorite fall hikes.
Mt. Bierstadt on Guanella Pass Road
The Bierstadt trailhead, located on Guanella Pass Road, starts above the treeline and takes you through the largest willow bog in Colorado. If you want to try your first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt is one of the best for beginners. However, you don't have to summit; hike the first mile of the trail for a family-friendly adventure over a creek, through willows, and by two small mountain lakes. You can see breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the Continental Dividein the distance. Add another half mile of moderate hiking up above the valley floor for additional views. If you plan to summit, start early; the hike can take between three and five hours, depending on your ability, and afternoon thunderstorms are common.
Forsythe Canyon to Gross Resevoir
Forsythe Canyon, just outside Boulder, Colorado, has it all—a waterfall, a stream, a canyon, and a lake. It's an easy hike that's just 2.8 miles roundtrip. From the trailhead, you'll wind gently downhill through a canyon and grassy meadows dotted with aspens, fir, and spruce before coming to a stream. The falls are about one mile into the hike, and the reservoir is just 200 years further down the trail. It's a bit of a drive from Denver, so plan on making a day of it and spending some time in Boulder after your hike.
Devil's Head Lookout
Devil's Head trail to the fire lookout is a classic Colorado hike that anyone who lives here or is thinking of moving to the Colorado Front Range should do. Just an hour from Denver, the drive to the trailhead takes you up Rampart Range Road where you'll catch your first glimpse of the changing aspens. The 2.8-mile hike begins in a tall glade of aspens, some of the biggest you'll find so close to the city. The trail meanders through rock formations and a meadow before reaching the fire lookout where you can climb the 143 steps to the top for panoramic views of mountain peaks and fall foliage. The 103-year-old Devil’s Head Lookout is the last of the seven original Front Range Lookout towers still in continuous use and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rocky Mountain State Park
A list of fall hikes wouldn't be complete without mentioning the elk bugling in Estes Park. During the September-October mating season, you can hear the characteristic rutting of the bull elk from just before dusk until dawn. In the early evening, head into Rocky Mountain National Park and stop at Horseshoe Park where you will find volunteer guides called the Bugle Corps who can provide insight and information about he best places to take part in this Rocky Mountain tradition.
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