Sep 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm #1278963
I've got a few ideas already but am putting this out there for suggestions on your best ideas for late September Colorado backpacking, an emphasis on Aspens of course.
Bring on the ideas!
AaronSep 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm #1777523
Lost Creek Wilderness is pretty nice mid to late September. Refrigerator gulch and McCurdy Park have some spectacular aspens.
Looking forward to see what all is suggested.Sep 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm #1778857
I've been in the LCW and Refrigerator Gulch in June, went back and checked my photos and it's moving towards the top of the list given the contrast of Aspens and that great Granite along with the creek.
Also on my list are trips in the West Elk Wilderness using Beckwith, Stormy and Swampy Passes.Sep 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm #1779053
@vaporjourneyLocale: Greater Gila
I'd say forget the front range and head west to the West Elks. Head on over to summitpost and search for places like Beckwith Mountain, Gunnison Mountain, Anthracite Range, Storm Pass, etc. The fall colors are off the hook and probably some of the best in colorado. The terrain west of Kebler Pass is home to the largest aspen grove in the world. Obviously this place has color. There is some primo hiking to be done with lots of loop potential and small crowds in the West Elk Wilderness. If you want long days, you could definitely do a connection of the West Elk Wilderness to the Maroon Bells and have your best hiking of the year.Sep 13, 2011 at 5:26 am #1779082
One game I've played over the years, in order to maximize my aspen color experience and to stretch out the season, is to do an aspen hike up north (Steamboat, RMNP) to 10,500+ feet around September 10. Then, each successive weekend, hike to a slightly lower elevation as the colors develop there. After a few weeks, the aspen at ~7500' start changing. That's about the time I will head further south (Sangre de Christos, San Juans), where the color change happens a bit later than up north.
However, it seems that this year the color is going to be delayed by a week, maybe two. My buddy and I were at 10,800' last week up the Middle St. Vrain drainage in the Indian Peaks, and there were zero aspen colors. I'm thinking that the peak might happen about October 1-10. If you can only manage one hike, I think the above suggestions would be stellar. And don't forget about the areas around Summit County, Vail, and Leadville–they have some nice aspen groves, and they're close (if you live in the Front Range).Sep 13, 2011 at 6:01 am #1779085
Yes, I was in the IPW on Saturday and below 11,000' it was like summer still, made me think things are going to be late this year. Problem is my friends only have one weekend they can go at the end of September.
That's my concern with the Kebler Pass area, it is usually a little later to peak. But I have mapped a loop in the area.
Any suggestions for northern Colorado, there are so many dead pine trees to deal with and seemingly so few aspens it is hard to research for a specific area.Sep 13, 2011 at 6:29 am #1779089
Well, the beetle-kill hasn't happened much on the east side of the Divide. So I would suggest trying a trip into the Indian Peaks or RMNP (but that's a bear canister bummer). Where are your friends coming from? Will altitude be a problem for them? And how many days will you have for the hike?
A great loop in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is what is called the Southern Loop. This starts west of Nederland at the Hessie trailhead. You take the Devil's Thumb Bypass Trail up to Devil's Thumb Pass on the Divide, hike south along the Divide on the Corona Trail to King Lake, and then descend via the King Lake Trail back to the Hessie trailhead. You can also just take the Bypass Trail to Jasper or Diamond Lakes, for an easier in-and-out trip. You'll need a permit for this trip, which you can pick up at the Ace Hardware store in Nederland, or the Boulder FS office north of town.
A fun loop in RMNP is to park at Bear Lake and hike clockwise around Mt. Wuh. Odessa Lake or Fern Lake are great campsites for the first night, and then Upper Mill Creek for the second night. This is not an especially demanding hike, but it goes through some beautiful terrain. Of course, you need a permit, and a bear canister (which isn't required in the Indian Peaks).Sep 13, 2011 at 7:22 am #1779096
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
re: Indian Peaks
As an aside, no permit is needed in the IPW after Sept 15th.
Best time to backpack there…no permit needed and less people! :)Sep 13, 2011 at 7:29 am #1779097
I've been lurking around this thread since I'm planning a Colorado trip for the same time.Sep 13, 2011 at 9:19 am #1779118
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
West Elks , go off route from Raggeds, do Marcellina mountain, beckwiths, ruby range
I did Marcellina, in late Sept a few years ago, great mountain for aspens.Sep 13, 2011 at 9:23 am #1779123
Kevin, what do you mean exactly off route from Raggeds?Sep 13, 2011 at 9:29 am #1779128
Thanks for posting that, Paul. I'd forgotten what the cutoff date was for needing a permit.Sep 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm #1779174
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
There are a couple of different routes which can take you from Dark Canyon area to the raggeds or vice versa. Some are stock trails, none are really official trails though. There is also a bushwhack way, but not bad, that follows a pretty natural line, from a pass that goes over to Marble.
There is another trail that will circle up close to the Ruby range, and near Marcellina mountain as well, putting those both in reach , and keeping you somewhat off the beaten path until you get near the ruby range.
Alternatively , castles and storm pass loop would be nice as well.Sep 21, 2011 at 8:35 am #1781580
I'll high jack your thread. Where did you decide to go? Anyone have an update / suggestion on where to go the weekend of 30 Sep – 1 Oct. Looking for a 20 mile loop.
I'm a flatlander from Missouri, going to sneak up into the hills one more time this year to see the fall colors with my son.
TonySep 21, 2011 at 8:44 am #1781586
We are going to the Lost Creek Wilderness as we have only two days now, I think it's prime backpacking this time of year, there are some great stands of Aspens that I hope have started to turn and the crowds should be less.
Your weekend to come out should be near peak for color whereas last year things were nearing past peak by then.
Check out the 22 mile or so loop using Beckwith, Storm and Swampy Passes or some variation thereof in the West Elk Wilderness. The South San Juans may be good then too, The Ben Tyler trail in the Kenosha Mountains has a huge stand of Aspens and another option I thought about was the Buffalo Meadows loop in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness but it's kind of short.Sep 21, 2011 at 9:52 am #1781625
I have the Lost Creek area map. Do you know what Nat Geo Trails Illustrated map covers the Beckwith, Storm and Swampy Passes area and what trail head to use? I have never been there and it sounds great!
TonySep 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm #1781810
It's the Kebler Pass Paonia Map I think, not sure of the number without looking.
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