Don’t Miss These Colorado Fall Foliage Hikes and Drives
FALL TRAILS FOR HIKING & BIKING.
Pella Crossing Loop Trail is a 1.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located just west of Longmont, near Hygiene. The area offers fishing and walking trails and beautiful views of Longs Peak and is a wetlands habitat, nestled within the surrounding Great Plains. The trail is good for all skill levels and offers several activity options. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be kept on a leash.
When fall colors are at their peak and snow kisses the Twin Peaks, Pella Crossing is the ideal location to view nature’s glory. The Open Space supports aquatic plant and animal life and serves to lure in large numbers of migrating birds. With grasses, wildflowers, and trees surrounding the wetlands, these areas are biologically diverse, both in and out of the water.
The Bachelor Loop, north of Creede, starts in the iconic cliffs at the end of Creede’s classic western Main St and circles through some amazing mining ruins. It was where a lot of the last Lone Ranger film was shot. The whole loop is very beautiful throughout the self-guided driving tour (maps at the Visitors Center/Chamber building) and the site of the old town of Bachelor is a big meadow lined with lots of fall foliage, plus there are lots of aspens along the way.
Cumbres La Manga Pass and the Conejos Canyon, Hwy 17 going into New Mexico (one end of the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway) and Forest Rd 250 up to the mining town of Platoro has incredible views with lots and lots of aspens. Very few have discovered it from the Colorado side except for people in the San Luis Valley.
Opal Lake trail, near Pagosa Springs, is a moderately easy 1.2 miles and takes about 45 minutes to complete. The trailhead traverses across an open meadow, with gorgeous high country autumn sights. Hikers can see several beaver dams, a mountain face, and the mineral deposits which give Opal Lake its milky color. The most impressive during the autumn season, however, is the wooded hillside, complete with a color-changing aspen grove, which surrounds visitors with beauty through one of the world’s largest connected living organisms.
Anderson Trail is about 9 miles in length from the trailhead to its junction with the Fourmile Trail. It crosses easily through steep terrain and goes across the eastern shoulder of Pagosa Peak. There’s a 2,349-foot elevation gain, which gives hikers a mountainous view of transforming colors from above. There are rock formations, aspen trees, and expansive fall views; the trail is open to hiking and horseback riding, and primitive camping spots are available throughout.
FALL FOLIAGE DRIVES:
Rio Blanco County has spectacular, lesser-known scenic drives, including the Buford-New Castle Road, a gravel road connecting the two towns in 42 Miles. With camping spots along the way and amazing aspen trees in the fall, with interesting history and an old western tradition that provide visitors with a unique look into the lifestyle of the old west, this is a great drive to check out at peak season.
Highway of Legends Scenic and Historic Byway: This route wraps around two of Colorado’s burliest mountains, West and East Spanish Peak. Along the way, the highway passes beneath ancient volcanic walls that rise over tracts of pine, scrub oak and aspen. Nearly the entire route from La Veta to Trinidad on Colorado 12 begs to be photographed.
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway: Take this rambling route south out of the historic town of Georgetown to find pockets of blazing aspen. Once reaching the town of Grant, turn right on US 285 and take the highway for 15 minutes to the top of Kenosha Pass, where the aspen thrive on the rim of the gentle slopes that encircle South Park. Colorado 17 from Antonito to the New Mexico border: heading up the serene Conejos River Valley, stands of pinyon give way to the white trunks of aspen. Some of the oldest and tallest aspens in the state can be seen, photographed and enjoyed near La Manga Pass.
For an even more unique experience, ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for views not seen on any highway.
Dallas Divide and Lizard Head Pass: The journey begins in the town of Ridgway, heading west on Colorado 62 over Dallas Divide. Lining the route are unimpeded views of the Sneffels Range, an apron of aspen trees at its feet. At Placerville, head southeast toward Telluride on Colorado 145. All the way to Lizard Head Pass drivers will be in awe at the dense groves of white-barked aspens with panoramas of Wilson Peak.