Three Dog-Friendly Hikes for Spotting Yellow Aspens
The first day of fall is close-at-hand, and with it comes crisp weather, plaid sweaters, and changing leaves all across Colorado high-country. And, like our rapidly-changing weather, Colorado also deals with rapidly-changing seasons. So, to help take the guesswork out of the “when” and “where” of the beautiful and brief fall hiking season, we’ve compiled our top three aspen-watching, dog-friendly hikes to check out this year.
Please note that each trail listed below is dog-friendly, but requests leash use at all times. Always check the weather and websites for any pertinent local requirements before you adventure out!
Our first pet-friendly hike full of changing fall foliage is located near Vail, Colorado in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, about two and a half hours from Denver. (Click here for directions.) The trail is an out-and-back, moderate difficulty, six-mile-long trail with an elevation gain of 731 feet. (Click here for photos and trail reviews from recent hikers).
Though a little bit of a drive, the gorgeous scenery and abundant aspens make it easily worth it. Upper Piney River Falls offers gently sloping meadows, stunning mountain views, and winding trails that let you and your dog hike directly through the aspen forest. There are also several small creeks along the trail, a small lake, and a waterfall to satiate even the most water-loving dog’s exploring heart.
Our second favorite dog-friendly hike is Diamond Lake Hike, located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, Colorado. A bit closer to Denver (about a 90-minute drive away), this hike is a moderate, 6-mile out-and-back trail with a 1,240 foot elevation gain.
Diamond Lake offers dazzling lakeside scenery with snow-capped peaks full of patches of the famous quaking aspen. Check out more trail details and photos here.
Trail number three will be a favorite for those of you in Colorado Springs. Located in Pike National Forest, near Woodland Park, this trail is a quick 45-minute drive that transports you to what may feel like a different world. This hike is an easy, 3.4 mile out-and-back trail with a simple 269 foot elevation gain.
Rainbow Gulch Trail offers beautiful lake views that reflect the natural beauty of the changing leaves in fall. This trail is best enjoyed through October, so take advantage while you can! Click here for stunning photos and recent hiker testimonials.
Regardless of which hike you and your dog explore together, don’t forget to practice all of your Off-leash K9 Training commands to ensure an enjoyable hike for you, your dog, your fellow hikers, and the state herself. “Heel” ensures your dog stays close by whether there are other dogs, humans, or wildlife on the trail that might not be appropriate to interact with. Use “off” to make sure that your dog doesn’t bark or jump on fellow hikers; not everyone likes friendly licks on a quiet trail. And in general, don’t forget to practice all posted guidelines on the trails themselves to preserve the integrity of the state and the safety of your canine companion. Happy Hiking!