Fall hiking trail in Winter Park, Colorado

Best Fall Hiking Trails

Where to Hike this Season

Best Hiking Trails for Fall

Seasonal Adventure

Fall is in full swing in Winter Park, Colorado Unfiltered. Aspen and willow trees are beginning to change, with brilliant autumn hues of red, gold, and orange accenting the mountainsides. Experience them for yourself on the top fall hiking trails below.

For updates on trail status, use COTREX (a mobile and desktop application for a statewide comprehensive and interactive trail map) to always have your maps with you. Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest Service also offers maps or you can pick-up a trail map from the Winter Park Information Center.

Creekside / Flume Loop 

Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 254 Ft. Difficulty: Easy

This popular loop trail follows the creek and has a number of wildlife viewing opportunities along with meadows of golden aspens. Watch out for moose down in the willows! The trail starts on the north side of St. Louis Creek and heads west offering great views of Byers Peak. Once the trail reaches Leland Creek Rd (FS 159), the trail follows the road until it connects with the Flume Trail and heads back east toward the valley. The St. Louis Trailhead also offers access to the Creekside Loop which is a 2-mile round-trip hike if you are not feeling up for the 5-mile Creekside / Flume Loop.

Meadow Creek Reservoir

Distance: 8.6 miles  Elevation Gain: 2,329 Ft. Difficulty: Moderate

Meadow Creek Reservoir is a beautiful lake located just outside the western boundary of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. This deep lake contains brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout in case you want to pack your pole, but the fish aren’t the only colorful species in the area! The region is also surrounded by foliage that is bright and beautiful in the fall.

To access the lake, driving from Fraser toward Tabernash, turn right on County Road 83, keep left onto County Road 84 and finally Forest Road 129. An Arapaho National Recreation Area pass is required, you will see the pay station on your way up to the parking area.  There is a picnic area with a vault toilet at the lake but no drinking water is available. No formal campground is available at Meadow Creek Reservoir. But there is dispersed open camping along the USFS Road 129 around the reservoir area. The reservoir is approximately 10 miles from the town of Tabernash.

Hike through an Aspen-Pine forest, which is even more stunning in the fall. Along the way, see wildlife, waterfalls, and even cross a few creeks.  This trail is popular with hikers and bikers, it's also dog-friendly so plan accordingly before you embark on your adventure.

JAMES PEAK WILDERNESS AREA

Distance: Varies  Elevation Gain: Varies  Difficulty: Varies

This 14,000-acre area, which straddles the Continental Divide, is an alpine wonderland that boasts sweeping views, powerful peaks and lovely lakes. Wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bear live here. The alpine meadows and forests of Englemann spruce, subalpine fir, and lodgepole pine are not only beautiful but also provide outstanding habitat for several species.

James Peak Protection Area elevation ranges from 9,200 - 13,294 feet and terrain varies throughout the area. Alpine Lakes and Mountain Peaks dot the landscape and stun. With so much open space, there are many different hikes you can take depending on your energy and skill level.  Take a quick easy hike or adventure on a backcountry excursion. Here are a few of our favorites trails in James Peak Protection Area:

  • Jim Creek
  • Riflesight
  • Buck Creek
  • James Peak (from Rogers Pass)

BOTTLE PEAK

Distance: 3.64 miles (one way)  (1.4 on Forest Service Road, 2.24 on trail) Elevation Gain: 9,809 Ft. Difficulty: Moderate

Views of old growth forest, tundra, flora and hillsides covered with wildflowers and surrounded by breathtaking 360° mountain views.  Bike or hike 3.2 miles on the service road to the trailhead on the right. Follow the trail up 11 switchbacks through the old growth forest. At timberline take the right fork and bear right across the tundra to the summit of Bottle Peak.  Continue down the saddle to Bottle Pass.  Bear right up the hill to Ptarmigan Peak.

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