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Top Wildflower Hikes in Aspen

Each season in Aspen brings a different sense of beauty but visiting during wildflower season is a truly unforgettable experience.

West Maroon Trail near Aspen
West Maroon Trail near Aspen
Cathedral Lake Trail
Cathedral Lake Trail
American Lake Trail
American Lake Trail
Hiking in Aspen
Hiking in Aspen

To help guide you toward the best of the color, a few of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ naturalist guides compiled a list of the top wildflower hikes to take in and around Aspen. Most of the hikes are at elevations between 8,000 and 10,000 feet and vary in habitat, from mixed-conifer forest to mountain meadows and aspen groves.

Castle Creek to River Run
Easy
The River Run Trail is a beautiful 1.5-mile, one-way hike within 15 minutes of downtown Aspen. The route starts at the ghost town of Ashcroft and runs along the river. 

Little Cloud Trail
Easy
Offering great views of downtown Aspen and a lovely jaunt through a pine forest and wildflower fields, the 0.6-mile Little Cloud Trail is among Aspen's most accessible and shortest hikes. Little Cloud is situated at the base of Shadow Mountain, the rocky, sharp ridgeline that juts out from Aspen Mountain on the western side of town. 

Hunter Creek Trail to Hunter Creek Cutoff
Moderate
The trail begins just east of the apartments on Lone Pine Road or directly off of the Rio Grande Trail extension, which was completed in 2013. This is a gradual uphill climb along the Hunter Creek towards Hunter Valley.  

American Lake Trail
Moderate—Difficult
The trail rises steeply and then follows a series of switchbacks for the first 1.5 miles, then levels off with gentle rises until you reach the lake at 3.2 miles. 

Cathedral Lake Trail
Difficult
The trail climbs steadily, then reaches a series of switchbacks followed by a marked fork. Take the left fork to Cathedral Lake for a total 3.2-mile hike. Cathedral Lake is very scenic and has great fishing opportunities.

Additional hikes that are a bit higher in elevation, primarily at around 10,000 to 12,000 feet include:

Lost Man Loop
Midway Trail
Grizzly Lake Trail
Tabor Creek Trail
West Maroon Creek Trail to West Maroon Pass
Willow Lake Trail

Aspen Wildflowers to Look For

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has provided a list of some eye-catching flowers that can be seen in the area. They are categorized below by family. 

Borage Family (Boraginaceae)
Mountain blue bells
Alpine forget-me-not

Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
Blue columbine
Western red columbine
Monkshood 

Flax Family (Linaceae)
Wild blue flax 

Geranium Family (Geraniaceae)
Richardson's geranium, white geranium
Sticky geranium

Lily Family (Liliaceaee)
Mountain death camas, wand lily
Corn lily

Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)
Striped coralroot orchid
Western rattlesnake plantain 

Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae)
Showy Jacob's ladder
Skyrocket
Sky pilot 

Rose Family (Rosaceae)
Showy cinquefoil
Chokecherry
Prairie smoke, pink plumes
Wild rose 

Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae)
Elephantella
Giant lousewort
Narrowleaf paintbrush
Northern paintbrush 

Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)
Heartleaf arnica
Aspen sunflower
Subalpine aster
Western yarrow 

Violet Family (Violaceae)
Canada violet
Hooked violet
Lanceleaf violet 

Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae)
Purple fringe 

Don’t forget to check out Aspen Center for Environmental Studies at Hallam Lake, a 25-acre nature preserve in the heart of Aspen featuring multiple family-friendly programs throughout the summer season. Visit Aspen Center for Environmental Studies at Rock Bottom Ranch between Basalt and Carbondale, which offers daily farm tours and summer farm-to-table events

More summer hikes in and near Aspen >>

Watch a video about Aspen hiking etiquette >>

More articles about Aspen >>

 

A version of these article originally appeared on Aspen Chamber’s website.