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Aspen

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Overview

Aspen is an old silver mining town located on the Roaring Fork River, halfway between its source, 40 miles upvalley at Independence Pass (12,095 ft.), and its confluence with the Colorado River, downstream in Glenwood Springs.

Nearer to town the local trail network is continually improving. Increased connectivity keeps you off the roads as much as possible and improved signage, information kiosks, and trailhead parking make everything visitor friendly. A new network of trails in Skyline Park can be looped for miles and offers an alternate way to connect Snowmass and Aspen. Additionally, Snowmass ski area has been aggressively developing their on-mountain trail network for runners, hikers and bikers alike.

Provided by: Ted Mahon. Check out StuckintheRockies.com to follow Ted's adventures in the Elk Mountains and beyond.

Local Info

Aspen may be known for its skiing and winter sports, but it's really quite impressive as a trail running destination. Surrounded on three sides by three different Wilderness areas, Aspen and nearby Snowmass offer an extensive network of local trails right from the edge of town, as well as numerous options and access points for larger wilderness trail running adventures. And the best part is that there are very few people.

The Upper Roaring Fork Valley boasts more than a dozen side valleys which provide some awesome individual outings, but also allow for some really long and committing linkups. Since most of the terrain in the upper valley falls within official Wilderness, it isn't shared with bikes or vehicles.

Visiting Tips

The snowfall that qualifies Aspen and Snowmass as desirable ski destinations during the winter months effectively shut down much of the trail network for running during that time of year. Through the dark days of winter there are some paved bike paths that are clear, but much of the singletrack and jeep roads are packed with snow. The trails are all still accessible and open, but only a handful of the summer trails see visitors in numbers enough to keep the snow packed adequately for running. The trails closest to downtown Aspen or Snowmass are the best options this time of year. Trails further away would be better served by either snowshoes or skis. It's quite popular to uphill hike/run/snowshoe the four area ski mountains on the packed groomed surface, and download on chairlift or gondola. The rules vary on each mountain so be sure to check in advance about suggested routes and allowable times.

In April, some of the lower elevation trails or those on sunny, southern aspects begin to melt out. Winter snowpack levels and springtime temperatures factor into when the trails dry out for running to a point, but in general terms, it isn't until early June that many of the popular trails near Aspen are clear of snow. The remote Wilderness trails at higher elevations take even longer.

Camping & Lodging

Hotels and lodging can be pricey in Aspen, but there are exceptions. The St. Moritz is a few blocks from downtown and offers private and shared rooms for very reasonable rates. Other hotels that might be within reach cost-wise for most visitors would be the Tyrollean Lodge, the Limelight Hotel, or the Molly Gibson Lodge. If you want more options, contact Aspen Central Reservations or visit online (www.stayaspensnowmass.com), where a searchable database of hotel and residential rental information can be found.

There are several USFS campsites near town as well, three along Highway 82 on the way up Independence Pass (Difficult, Weller, Lost Man), and three on the road up to the Maroon Bells, just past the entrance gate (Silver Bar, Silver Bell, and Silver Queen). Call the Aspen Ranger District Office for more information. The sites are usually quite busy and some advanced planning is often required to reserve a spot.

Food & Drink

Aspen has more restaurants than a town of it's size should be able to support. As one would expect, there are numerous high-priced options but for the rest of us who are simply looking for a good place to eat or drink after a long day on the trails, consider The J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome, The Red Onion, Hops Culture, 520 Grill, or NY Pizza. You might also just walk through the few blocks that make up the downtown core and see what else looks good. Higher end restaurants offer bar menus that are more reasonably priced. Aspen Brewery doesn't serve food but is centrally located downtown with a sunny patio and is a perfect post run spot for a beer.

If you're looking for breakfast/coffee, try Jour de Fete next to City Market, Cafe Ink, Peach's Cafe, Poppycock's, or the Hickory House out on Main Street.

Other Activities

Rest day? Bad weather? There's plenty do in and around Aspen-

Aspen Mountain Gondola- aspensnowmass.com/ - take a ride to the top of Aspen Mountain for lunch, or to meet others who may be running or hiking up.
ACES - Aspen Center for Environmental Studies - aspennature.org/
Wheeler Opera House - wheeleroperahouse.com/
Aspen Music Festival - aspenmusicfestival.com/

Gems in Aspen - 2

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gem Favorite One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells

(27) Snowmas…, CO
gem Favorite No Photos

Conundrum Hot Springs

(7) Crested…, CO

Recommended Routes in Aspen - 17

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Favorite One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells
Difficult

Four Pass Loop

27.1 mi 43.6 km 7,265' Up 2214.42 m Up 7,266' Down 2214.53 m Down

Snowmas…, CO
Favorite Back into the trees headed down the west side of Buckskin Pass. Photo: Michelle Smith
Difficult

Snowmass - Willow Lake Loop

22.3 mi 35.9 km 5,436' Up 1657.01 m Up 5,456' Down 1662.91 m Down

Snowmas…, CO
Favorite A view of Pine Creek and Malamute Peak.
Intermediate/Difficult

Cathedral Lake Trail

5.5 mi 8.8 km 2,098' Up 639.41 m Up 2,098' Down 639.32 m Down

Aspen, CO
Favorite No Photos
Difficult

Conundrum Hot Springs Out-and-Back

17.4 mi 28.0 km 2,536' Up 772.93 m Up 2,535' Down 772.82 m Down

Aspen, CO
Favorite One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells
Difficult

Pyramid Peak

7.9 mi 12.6 km 4,393' Up 1339.06 m Up 4,393' Down 1338.99 m Down

Snowmas…, CO
Favorite Ute Trail descent
Difficult

Ute Trail to Ajax Sundeck

3.1 mi 5.0 km 3,211' Up 978.64 m Up 0' Down 0 m Down

Aspen, CO
Favorite Runners, crushing it along Government Trail.
Difficult

Audi Power of Four 25k

14.6 mi 23.5 km 3,191' Up 972.6 m Up 2,810' Down 856.44 m Down

Aspen, CO
Favorite Bridge debris - watch your step!
Difficult

Castle and Conundrum

12.0 mi 19.3 km 4,299' Up 1310.31 m Up 4,298' Down 1309.91 m Down

Aspen, CO
Favorite View from Margy's Hut.
Intermediate

Twin Meadows to Margy's Hut

4.6 mi 7.4 km 1,978' Up 602.86 m Up 117' Down 35.8 m Down

Aspen, CO

Aspen Running

  • 666 Miles 1,072 Kilometers of Trail
  • 17 Recommended Routes
  • 2 Gems Gems
  • 18 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 53 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 39 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Share what you know about this area!

Weather Averages


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Trails in Aspen - 93

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8.2 mi 13.1 km #1Maroon Snowmass Trail
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
6.7 mi 10.9 km #2Maroon Snowmass Trail #1975
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
1.8 mi 2.9 km #3Maroon Snowmass Trail
Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO
Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO 13 
1.7 mi 2.7 km #4North Maroon Peak
Very Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
Very Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
11.2 mi 18.1 km #5Conundrum Creek Trail #1981
Intermediate/Difficult
Aspen, CO
Intermediate/Difficult
Aspen, CO
1.9 mi 3.0 km #6Ditch Trail
Easy/Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO
Easy/Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO
7.6 mi 12.3 km #7East Snowmass Trail
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
2.5 mi 4.0 km #8Pyramid Peak Trail
Very Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
Very Difficult
Snowmass Village, CO
3.5 mi 5.7 km #9Tom Blake Trail
Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO
Intermediate
Snowmass Village, CO
10.5 mi 16.8 km #10Government Trail
Difficult
Aspen, CO
Difficult
Aspen, CO

Photos of Aspen - 181

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Photos

One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells
Sep 27, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Moose
Feb 9, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Maroon Bells
Apr 1, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Sunrise in the Rockies!
Apr 3, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Runners, crushing it along Government Trail.
Apr 3, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
One of the many amazing high country lake views found on the Four Pass Loop.
Feb 1, 2018 near Snowmas…, CO
Maroon Bells on a beautiful fall day
Feb 8, 2018 near Snowmas…, CO
Back into the trees headed down the west side of Buckskin Pass. Photo: Michelle Smith
Aug 31, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO