Happy Trails

Aspen Trail Finder's Top 5 Hikes for Leaf Peeping

Fall colors are in full effect, so we turned to the expert for where to see the most amazing of autumn foliage.

By Katie Shapiro September 16, 2016

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Aspen Trail Finder founder Preston Files along the Continental Divide. 

When you live in the most beautiful place on earth, there's no shortage of jaw-dropping photography taking over your newsfeed every morning. One of our favorite follows is Aspen Trail Finder, a showcase of local trails by Preston Files, who founded the comprehensive website in 2014, which covers every hiking, biking, and running trail in the entire Roaring Fork Valley. With a day job as a web and graphic designer, Files had everything he needed to grow his digital presence into what is now the go-to trail guide in town. 

"I love Aspen, but more importantly I love the Roaring Fork Valley," says Files. "This entire valley is connected and each area has something special. I got tired of going to a bunch of different websites, each covering one town, one area, or one sport and reading, 'For more information on a trail, visit a local shop or ask a local.' My goal is simple, to make it easy for you to find a trail and share your adventure with others."

Files, 34, has lived in Aspen for six years, with five years visiting as a tourist, backpack in tow, before that. Already a dedicated and active member of the community, he most recently launched the Aspen Trail Finder Roaring Fork Fund (a.k.a. ROFO Fund), the charitable giving arm of the site, to help local land, river, trail, and outdoor education nonprofits. Advised through the Aspen Community Foundation, Files further engages his followers by letting an online poll determine which one of three nominated projects will get the gift of funds raised through the site. 

Here, Files shares his favorite trails to take in the most amazing of autumn foliage. And if you snap photos while you're out there and share them, don't forget to tag #aspentrailfinder.

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Behind The Sign (BTS) Trail on Smuggler Mountain in Aspen.

1. Behind The Sign Trail

"The BTS Trail surrounds you in aspens as you hike through the middle of Smuggler Mountain. You can also take in some of Aspen’s history at the Bushwacker Mine and Park Regent Mine along the trail."

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Montezuma Basin Road (FSR #102) in Ashcroft.

2. Montezuma Basin Road

"Sure it’s a road, but leave your car at the sign and become immediately immersed in the aspens. A beautiful reflecting pond is just over 3/4 mile up and a little farther, 1.3 miles from the road sign, is a small bridge crossing Castle Creek that’s a great place to sit and stare at the colors."

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Government Trail takes hikers through Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas.

 3. Government Trail

"This nearly 10-mile trail across both the Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas offers endless views of the changing leaves. There’s not a bad spot to be on it."

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The Ditch Trail runs for 1.7 miles in Snowmass Village.

4. Ditch Trail

"The Ditch Trail is a wonderful hike across the Campground side of the Snowmass ski area, and the view of the Snowmass Creek Valley from the Powderhorn ski run is simply breathtaking." 

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The view of Mount Sopris from the Grizzly Summer Road.

5. Grizzly Summer Road

"This summer work road on the Sunlight ski area [outside of Glenwood Springs] offers unbelievable views of Mount Sopris and the Roaring Fork Valley as you climb to the top. The view from Leonard's Lookout is incredible."

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