Best Hikes For Fall Colors in Colorado

It’s the best time of year in Colorado! Fall Colors are just starting to change and soon leaf peepers will be out in full swing.

Fall colors in Colorado peak (on average) in the last few weeks of September and linger into early October the farther south you go.

This is a very busy time in the mountains in Colorado so go on weekdays and early to avoid crowds, practice Trail Etiquette and Leave No Trace. Let’s keep our trails in great shape! If you’re new to hiking start here before you hit the trails for the first time.

These are some of my favorite trails to hike and take advantage of the golden Aspens. Plus, almost every one is a dog friendly fall colors hike!

Difficulty Levels: Beginner Friendly, Approachable, Not-So-Approachable and Difficult

4.8 Miles / 596 ft. Elevation Gain
Frisco, Colorado
Approachable & Dog Friendly

Frisco is the place to be for fall colors! This hike is beautiful with plenty of Aspens and a lake at the end. Then grab a drink on a rooftop downtown and take in all the beautiful colors of fall. Frisco is also one of my favorite weekend getaways.

1 hour and 15 minutes from Denver

3.5 Miles / 688 ft. Elevation Gain
Aspen, Colorado
Approachable & Mostly Dog Friendly

You can’t talk about fall colors without mentioning Aspen and the famous Maroon Bells. I’ve yet to be lucky enough to be there in the fall, but if you’re lucky enough to snag a shuttle spot you absolutely can’t miss out.

3 hours from Denver

6.2 Miles / 941 ft. Elevation Gain
Buena Vista, CO
Approachable & Dog Friendly

This is absolutely worth the drive down near Buena Vista & Salida! The first mile or so is a little steep and rocky but then it levels out through a forest to the waterfall. Pops of golden Aspens stick out from the otherwise green of the pines with epic mountain backdrops.

4 Hours from Denver

8 Miles / 300 ft. Elevation Gain
Jefferson, CO
Approachable & Dog Friendly

A choose-your-own-adventure just off of one of the most impressive spots for fall colors – Kenosha Pass! This is great for beginners, just turn around when you’ve had enough. This is one of, if not the most popular spots for fall colors – so plan for lots of traffic if you’re going on a weekend. 

1 hour & 15 minutes from Denver

11.7 Miles / 2,404 ft. Elevation Gain
Grant, CO
Approachable & Dog Friendly

Don’t be put off by the mileage – I only did about 3-4 miles in and then back out for the incredible views. It’s not too steep, but the fall colors that make this hike so amazing don’t start until about 2.5 miles in so don’t be discouraged by the green and brown start to the trail.

1 hour & 15 minutes from Denver

3.3 Miles / 2,224 ft. Elevation Gain
Vail, CO
Not-So-Approachable & Dog Friendly

Up a ski hill, winding through Aspen trees – Berry Picker Trail is steep and difficult at times but totally worth it for the views. Plus, you can take the gondola down for free if you don’t want to hike back down! 

1 hour & 30 minutes from Denver

5.2 Miles / 994 ft. Elevation Gain
Conifer, CO
Approachable & Dog Friendly

I love that this hike has you walking through Aspens to start, then at the peak you have incredible views where you see the deep greens from the pines & then the golden Aspens peak through!

40 minutes from Denver

6.8 Miles / 1,200 ft. Elevation Gain
Conifer, Colorado
Not-So-Approachable & Dog Friendly

Head anywhere in Staunton State Park for some of the most incredible views and a few fields of Aspens along the way! Mason Creek trail is a favorite, but definitely a bit steep at times. If you want a real challenge, make your way over to Elk Falls!

45 minutes from Denver

4.0 Miles / 1,082 ft. Elevation Gain
Conifer
Approachable

Just a quick drive from Denver, Conifer is one of my favorite spots for fall colors. Eagle’s View Trail is one that’s a little less busy, has beautiful colorado and a gorgeous view at the top too!

 45 minutes from Denver

4.7 Miles / 1,000 ft. Elevation Gain
Silverthorne
Approachable & Dog Friendly

Acorn Creek blew up Summer of 2023 for its epic wildflowers, but I can’t wait to see how it looks when the leaves start to change! It’s challening but doable and the views are completely worth it. 

 1 hour & 30 minutes from Denver

2.6 Miles / 574 ft. Elevation Gain
Frisco
Approachable & Dog Friendly

One of my favorite trails overlooking Lake Dillon! I hiked this during peak wildflower season, but took note of all the Aspens to come back and hike in the fall. The golden Aspens with the lake in the background make it a can’t miss.

 1 hour & 15 minutes from Denver

3.4 Miles 754 ft. Elevation Gain
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Approachable & Dog Friendly

There’s not much I love more than a trail completely lined with Aspens! Golden Gate Canyon State Park is perfect for fall hikes and Raccoon Trail offers plenty of color and views. There’s almost no cell service in the park so have your directions and trail info ready before you go.

1 hour from Denver

3.4 Miles / 990 ft. Elevation Gain
Estes Park, CO
Approachable & No Dogs Allowed

Gem Lake is one of my all-time favorites in one of my favorite towns! The views themself are incredible year-round, but the amount of Aspens makes this hike perfect for September! If you want to stay a few days, check out my recomendations for a weekend in Estes Park.

 1 hour and 30 minutes from Denver

2. Meadow Creek to Lily Pad Lake

3.4 Miles / 770 ft Elevation Gain
Frisco, Colorado
Approachable & Dog Friendly

No surprise Frisco has another spot on the list! I missed the fall colors when I hiked Meadow Creek last fall but made a note to come back and wander through the golden Aspens when they’re at their peak this time around. Seriously, spend a weekend in Frisco in late September. 

 1 hour and 15 minutes from Denver

6.0 Miles / 730 ft. Elevation Gain
Vail, CO
Approachable & Dog Friendly

I hiked Upper Piney just after the colors peaked last year so I can’t wait to go back and see the colors in their full glory! Aspens line the trail for most of the way and it’s absolutely stunning. It makes the 40 minute drive on the dirt road totally worth it.

2  hours & 30 minutes from Denver

The Black Hills of South Dakota are only a 5 hour drive from Denver and I was blown away at the beauty up there. Plenty of incredible hikes, lots of fall colors – perfect for a quick weekend getaway with the family!

 

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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