Each season in Aspen brings a different sense of beauty but visiting during wildflower season is a truly unforgettable experience.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
Western red columbine
Flax Family (Linaceae)
Wild blue flax
Geranium Family (Geraniaceae)
Richardson's geranium, white geranium
Lily Family (Liliaceaee)
Mountain death camas, wand lily
Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)
Striped coralroot orchid
Western rattlesnake plantain
Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae)
Showy Jacob's ladder
Rose Family (Rosaceae)
Prairie smoke, pink plumes
Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae)
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)
Violet Family (Violaceae)
Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae)
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.