You’ve got time to plan your fall foliage hunt in Colorado, as most aspen leaves are likely at least a couple of weeks from peak shimmer.
But maybe a lengthy road trip isn’t in the cards. Fear not: Out your back door, Pikes Peak region glory awaits.
• The go-to is Colorado 67, particularly the stretch weaving south toward Cripple Creek. It’s paved all the way, a tunnel of aspens dotted with pull-offs for photo ops. Take U.S. 24 west through Woodland Park and turn left at the second stoplight in Divide.
• Old Stage Road in southwest Colorado Springs is an old logging route with a rich history and a wealth of aspens. Four-wheel drive is a plus, but passenger vehicles will be able to make it a good distance.
To get there: From Interstate 25, take exit 138 onto Lake Avenue. Go west to The Broadmoor hotel and take the traffic circle onto Lake Circle, which becomes Portales Road. Veer right onto Mirada Road, which wraps west, becoming West Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard, then Old Stage Road.
• Find another great drive on Mount Herman Road in Monument. Take Interstate 25 north to exit 161. Go west and follow Second Street through town. Head south on Mitchell Road and take a right onto Mount Herman Road at Dirty Woman Park. Take the well-maintained dirt road to the top of Mount Herman.
The perfect fall weekday hike. The trail, a little more than 1½ miles one way, follows North Cheyenne Creek through a shady forest. Once you’ve reached the seventh bridge, you can continue on to reach Jones Park, where you’ll find aspen-filled meadows.
If you go: Park atop North Cheyenne Cañon Park, above Helen Hunt Falls. The trail, marked No. 622, starts a little more than a half-mile west of the parking lot.
• The Crags
The beautiful rock formations for which this trail is named aren’t the only reason to bring your camera. The roughly 4-mile round-trip hike offers stunning views of Pikes Peak, distant mountain ranges and the colorful foliage.
If you go: Heading south on Colorado 67 from U.S. 24, be on the lookout for the sign pointing to the dirt track on your left.
• Dome Rock
State Wildlife Area
For those looking for a challenge, the 10-mile loop features canyons, meadows, a creek dotted with beaver dams, spectacular views of Pikes Peak and vast aspen groves — plus, the starring attraction: the enormous granite Dome Rock.
If you go: From U.S. 24, head 5 miles south on Colorado 67 to Rainbow Valley, then turn right onto County Road 61. About 2 more miles to the access road. No dogs.
• Mueller State Park
Pikes Peak looms in view between the aspen trees on a perfect fall day along the Cheesman Ranch Loop in Mueller State Park.
Check out the park’s 55 miles of trails and upwards of 5,000 acres of meadows and forests. For the best aspen views, hike the 5½-mile Cheesman Ranch Loop.
If you go: Head south on Colorado 67 from U.S. 24 and turn right into the park. Daily admission is $8 per vehicle. No dogs.
• Cheyenne Mountain
Another sprawling state park, with a spectacular new destination to behold. Should you take on the 15-mile round-trip trek up Dixon Trail to the top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a seemingly endless aspen grove. Much gentler options are the Blackmer and Sundance loops.
If you go: Take Colorado 115 south past South Academy Boulevard and turn right into the park. Daily admission is $8 per vehicle. No dogs.
Starting in Green Mountain Falls off U.S. 24, this hike will take you about 2 miles to South Catamount Reservoir along the Pikes Peak Highway. After some uphill switchbacks, the trail winds through the Garden of Eden, home to granite outcrops and a slew of aspens.
If you go: The walk to the trailhead adds nearly a mile to the trip each way. Park near the lake and take Hondo Avenue to the trailhead.
An easy 4-mile out-and-back trail high in Pike National Forest — with added mileage if you decide to continue on the shores of Rampart Reservoir.
If you go: In Woodland Park, turn north onto Baldwin Street at McDonald’s. After about 3 miles, turn right onto Loy Creek Road. After 1½ miles, turn right onto Rampart Range Road. In 2 miles, see the trailhead and parking area to your left.
The fall colors showed off during an early October hike on the Goose Creek Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness.
For something more adventurous, set a course to the Springs’ nearest wilderness area. The drive alone will leave you breathless. Then there are the trails splashed in aspen. The Goose Creek trailhead is a good launch point.
If you go: On U.S. 24 west, continue through Florissant and Lake George. Turn right onto County Road 77. After about 7 miles, turn right onto Matukat Road, which becomes Forest Road 77, which becomes Forest Road 211. Another 11½ miles to trailhead. High-clearance/four-wheel drive vehicle recommended but not required.