Explore 5280 Best Fall Hikes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

5280 Best Fall Hikes Map

My first solo trip. Weather was perfect and the trail lived up to all my expectations. CLockwise and glad I did!

Total length was close to 6.4 Miles not length stated on app. Trail was narrow in spots. I would not recommend this hike for small children. Beautiful scenery & waterfalls.

off road driving
3 days ago

Does not allow ATVs on the trail because it’s still classified as a county road. All trails needs to better distinguish between OHV allowed and HV.

4 days ago

This was my first hike at RMNP, and it didn’t disappoint! My husband and I started at the bear lake trailhead, took a portion of the flattop mtn trail then when flattop mtn trail branched off to the left, we continued straight on the fern lake trail. We took the trail for a few miles and turned around right before two rivers lake. The incline was a good, challenging pace, not scrambling but not flat. We are beginner to intermediate hikers so this was perfect for us. The higher you get the rockier it gets on the trail. Some nice streams along the way and while it started off sunny and warm, it cooled at bit on the way up while in the pine forest. There was a portion of the trail that is next to a mountain that is nothing but rocks, so we slowed down a bit on this. This portion was also very sunny, but did not last long. Did not see any wildlife. I would do this again and next time probably go farther! Beautiful views along the way and not too crowded. I noticed the farther we went on the trail, the less foot traffic we came across. We arrived at the trailhead around 8:20am and it was full. Was able to snag a spot though. Might consider arriving a little earlier next time. First time at RMNP and I’m hooked. I never want to leave!

Bunch of knobs on the trail

Pretty darn good hike. We parked at fern lake trailhead and hiked to the bear lake trailhead and took the shuttle back. Note that the shuttle does not go all the way back to the fern lake trailhead. You will still have 0.7 miles to get to the actual trailhead. Overall it’s almost 10 miles and about 2700 ft gain in elevation. It would be a lot easier to go bear lake to fern lake. Bear lake is higher so the climb is much less daunting. Parking is more difficult at bear lake. Either way the scenery is gorgeous and the streams and lakes are beautiful as is fern falls.

We arrived to start the loop on Saturday morning at 5:30 am. Were greeted with overnight lot full sign. There were two parking spots in the overflow area just before the overnight lot. When we walked thru the overnight lot, there was one open spot. When we returned on Tuesday both of those parking areas were full. You might have to check out the other overflow parking area to find a parking spot.
We did the loop CW to West Maroon pass first. We did this because one hiker was not acclimated, and this direction is not as steep. The valley was crowded with hikers and runners up to the pass. The camp sites between West Maroon and Frigid Air are about 1/4 mile off the trail in the trees. There is a stream for water between the trail and campsites.
Thunderstorm started at 6 pm and rained and sleeted for a couple of hours. Intermittent rain thru the night. Only about 800 ft elevation change from camp to Frigid Air pass, a 100 yard section was steep and slick from the rain, so it was a relatively easy morning hike. 2100 ft elevation change downhill into the next valley.
We camped just after the intersection with the Geneva lake trail. Several nice camp sites in the area and water is close at the river.
Third day was a tough one. First 2170 ft elevation change up to Trail Rider pass. 1700 ft elevation change down into the Snowmass lake area. Then 800 ft elevation change up to our next campsite. The area was dry due to the summer conditions, so a lot of streams were dried up. There is water in Snowmass lake but we didn't need water at the time. We didn't really want to pull water out of the swamp, though the beaver dam was busted and it was flowing. At the campsites halfway up to Buckskin pass, there were two good streams for water.
Fourth day another roughly 800 ft elevation change to Buckskin pass, then close to 3000 ft downhill to the parking lot.
Outside of the main valley the trail was not crowded. Beautiful flowers, lakes and mountain scenery. Lots of animals, pikas, marmots, deer and a mountain goat guarding Buckskin pass.
Doing the trail in the CW direction was right of us, so the unacclimated hiker was able to make it. But it does make the last half of the hike the hard section. If you are a flatlander and live at low elevation like me, I do recommend spending a 3 or 4 days to acclimate before doing high altitude hiking.

Pretty neat!

Great trail, with diverse landscapes and reasonable uphills. However I recommend to do an extra effort and continue to Bear Lake instead of coming back. This would imply a “hard” hike, taking into account the uphill between Fern Lake and Lake Helene. But it pays off!: You don’t repeat landscapes and you will experience the rocky world of the RMNP, with vistas of some glaciers. And you arrive to the crowded Bear Lake, where the bus is waiting for you to bring you back to Lake Fern trailhead. Give it a try!

Doing this loop at the end of the week and was wondering if bear canisters were required.

off road driving
9 days ago

This was a beautiful drive. I would highly recommend it to anyone who new to off road driving. It is very easy, but still beautiful and fun. The Como side was rough, but manageable. I started from the Breckenridge side and though the town was crowded the road really wasn't. Clearly tourists don't know about the road or get nervous in their rental cars.
I will be going back in the fall. Maybe to camp a bit and see the colors. I am sure there will be more people on it then.

Did it CCW......Was a very hard brutal and at times scary climb to a couple of the passes. Fridge Air was steep as hell and very loose rock for this 67 year old man we had great weather not sure I could do it in rough weather wind and rain you know...would slide right off. 4 days 3 night .....but loved it and may do it again CW

10 days ago

I don’t know how they arrive at distances on this app, but every trail I’ve been on is at least 1.75-2.5 miles longer than indicated. We took the Ice Park and Pinecrest shortcuts on this trail & still logged 6.84 miles on Map My Walk.

The hike itself was pretty. There are sections that are steep, broken up by flat trails or descents. We started at the visitors center and got a map from them, which was very helpful, especially since we took two shortcuts. It wasn’t a difficult hike, but there is quite a bit of exposure and it got really hot. There are a few spots where you have to walk on or across roads.

I wouldn’t recommend this trail for kids under 8-9 years old, unless they listen well and have hiking experience. The inclines are steep and there is quite a bit of the trail that’s only wide enough for one person.

Not for the faint of heart. This trail has serious elevation change and the trail on the Maroon Bell side of the pass is full of rocks.

on Ouray Perimeter Trail

10 days ago

A good, challenging trail. There are some sections that are really awesome - around Box Canyon, for instance. However, many of the views are extremely similar to those you can see from town or from the highway. A long stretch of the trail is on roads in town which was not fun, although I did see on the map they're planning a new section that would avoid this. You still have to pass by the swimming pool, though, and the noise from that echoes far, which I found very annoying. If I did this again, I would start at Cascade Falls and end after Box Canyon - the rest of the trail isn't as remarkable.

Beautiful hike!

The first part of the hike was shaded but then after a while it got pretty hot. Also at the end we had some trouble finding the trail. Over all we thought the hike was fun for our family.

12 days ago

Was a very beautiful hike but there was a lot of steep hills. Lots of narrow edges some with out rails. Over all the work was all worth it because of the views it would not be great for kiddos under 6 because of the steep hills. We had a 12 and 9 year old and it was a little difficult.

12 days ago

Friends and I hiked half of this trail (one way), from Crested Butte to Aspen on 8/1. We took Dolly’s shuttle to the trailhead. No restrooms at trailhead from this direction. The hike is beautiful. Flower season was early this year, but we still had many to view. The lupine smell amazing! Lots of water crossings, they weren’t as big as we had expected. It’s dry this year. I went through about 2 liters of water. I was carrying a filter, didn’t need to use it. Unfortunately, wildfire smoke was evident in the sky. I don’t normally use poles, but had them on this trip. Glad I did! The trail has a lot of loose rocks, especially above Crater Lake. We saw and heard many pika, fresh bear scat (we think), bees and a few hummingbirds. The trail was more crowded than expected, still wonderful. Great campsites and backcountry spots if you’ll be hiking part way or half, then back. We again used Dolly’s shuttle back to CB. Dolly’s arrangements need to be made well in advance. I would possibly plan this hike differently next time... but would love to see it again!

Great day for E. Lake Creek trail. Cloudy on the way to the creek and light rain on the way back. I love this trail. It’s full of wild blueberries and raspberries to munch on. I only passed a few people today. I had most of the trail to myself. Very relaxing....

15 days ago

My husband and I tried this one at a friend’s suggestion. The burned trees are sad to see, but the meadow is lush and there is a lot of healthy vegetation. The first couple of miles are a gradual incline, rocky in places, but manageable. The lake is a little over two miles in and it is gorgeous! It’s covered in lily pads. After the lake, the trail winds through some wooded areas and the Thompson River becomes visible. It’s also very pretty and there are multiple places to rest, have a snack, and dip your toes in the water. About a mile and a half before the end, there are several large, random boulders. We saw several people practicing their bouldering skills. All in all, a great hike with lots of photo ops.

This was my first solo backpacking trip. I completed the loop counterclockwise, and I did it in three days. It was challenging but so beautiful. This trail includes wildflowers, lakes, and everything in between. If you are new to backpacking, I would recommend only doing part of the loop versus the whole thing. You can still see some beautiful scenery!

Amazing trail. Challenging with gorgeous scenery. Be sure to arrive at your campsite early enough to grab a good spot. Some spots like The Basin and Snowmass Lake filled up quickly.

17 days ago

Wonderful trail. Great wildflowers. the hike is a great start. slow build to a good climb and around. Don't forget that you start at either cub lake trailhead or Fern lake trail head and end at the other one. they are a mile apart to walk between. wasn't too crowded in the morning. must do hike.

off road driving
18 days ago

This is a beautiful, relaxing drive. We started in Como and ended in Breck. Lots of places to stop, park, and take pictures or hike on side trails. Trail is full of aspens, this would be a perfect fall drive once they start changing colors. 2WD cars shouldn’t have any troubles here, there were only a few spots with easily navigable potholes. This is a nice alternative to traversing I-70 up to Breck.

Beautiful views!! Good incline. Nice shade.

21 days ago

Did this on 7/21/18. Get to trailhead early! Do this loop clockwise
so you go by the meadows first increasing your chance of seeing elk and deer. Lots of wildflowers, moderate elevation gain and great views at the top. Look for wild raspberries- yum! Nice lake and some aspen groves. The hike back after the pool is crowded and mostly flat.

Read this to learn everything you need to know about this loop.

This trail is also known as the "Four Pass Loop".
No pictures do it justice.
I've uploaded images of the the map that I bought for this loop in the photos section of this trail.

I backpacked this trail back I'm July of 2017. This is widely accepted as a 3 day 2 night loop, but I did it in 2 days and 1 night. I am not an ultra marathon runner or anything either, and I come from a low elevation state. I'm just in the best shape I can be in. This was my first multi-night backpacking trip ever, and I could not have asked for a more epic and beautiful experience!!!

This trail consists of:

》《4 challenging, yet beautiful mountain passes.
(hence the alternative name "Four Pass Loop")
》《2 waterfalls.
》《A marsh.
》《360° views.
》《lush forests.
》《deep valleys.
》《ice crossings.
》《wildlife sighting opportunities.
》《beautiful lakes.
》《winding rivers.
....It pretty much has everything. No joke.

What to know:

1. You need trekking poles, and you need to be comfy with using them IF you've not done an ice crossing before. There is a crossing that people in the years prior to us have had to do, that we had to do, and it is shortly after Trail Rider Pass/while you're heading to Snowmass Lake.

2. If you're coming from the midwest or lowland areas (Indiana, Ohio, etc.) you need to spend as much time as possible day hiking other small trails around the area. anything 12k feet and up to acclimate yourself. The altitude change made me nauseas when I did day hikes before the actual FPL, so I'm glad I got that out of the way and got a feel for it.

3. Know how to setup your gear quickly and correctly! If you haven't been in the mountains before (specifically the west) you need to be aware that in the summer, it is considered "monsoon season" and there are ALWAYS storms after noon. These storms can be light rains or they can be heavy downpours with hail and lightening. Knowing your gear will keep you happy and dry in the tent during the nonsense! :)

3. Don't cross mountain passes during storms. Learn how to read clouds for storms (as best you humanly can).

4. Visit the Ute Mountaineer local outfitter in Aspen for a GOOD map ("Sky Terrain Trail Map" of Crested Butte Maroon Bells) to get an accurate map that includes the loop. Nobody else has an actual map of the loop!!!

5. You're not supposed to... but you can drive up to Snowmass Wilderness and get a campsite to sleep near the elevation of the loop instead of paying for an expensive hotel or motel. The campsites are GORGEOUS.

6. There is water everywhere this time of year on the trail. It's a mountain loop, so.... lol

7. Visit Aspen post hike. There is good food and lots of culture there.

10/10 loop/hike. Can't recommend it enough. Subscribe to my YouTube channel "Uriah Graves" to see a quick video of all this for more info in the next few days.

Most beautiful short hike or walk in Aspen. surrounded by spectacular peaks, wildflowers, stream. Plan to stop a lot. Best if done before first buses arrive around 830. can be combined with either Crater lake or head down maroon lake trail for as long as you like
Rick and Grayce

21 days ago

First third is easy! Second third is somewhat rocky and begins the incline. Last third is fairly steep and very rocky. Wonderful lake...quiet and peaceful.

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