Find Outdoor Bliss With Three Guided Hiking Experiences

Hiking is Aspen’s summer recreation of choice; increase the options with a guided trail experience.

May 1, 2016 Published in the Summer 2016 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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Yogis at Wanderlust.

Turn On Your Brain

Do we retain information better when we’re active? Put the idea to the test on one of the Aspen Historical Society’s ( new History Hikes. Saturday mornings from June 18 to August 27, an AHS guide leads one of five hikes. (Each is rated green, blue, or black, according to difficulty.)

The Green Mountain hike (black) near Independence Pass, for example, explores the remnants of the Independence ghost town’s lesser-known neighbor, which also hosted a mining operation. Another hike (green) meanders along the Rio Grande Trail, addressing its onetime railroad usage. Or head out to Old Snowmass for a close-up view of the area’s ranching history.

For first-time visitors, the hikes are a user-friendly entry into Aspen’s rich history; for longtime locals, they’re an opportunity to see the path well trodden in an entirely new light.

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Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ Hallam Lake

Tune in to Nature

Yoga and the outdoors are a natural fit, hence the Wanderlust festival (, which brings four days of yoga and like-minded practices to mountain resorts around North America, including Snowmass Village (June 30–July 3).

The hiking sessions offered during the fest take full advantage of the terrain and scenery, ranging from aerobic-focused jaunts up the Rim Trail to an hourlong silent meditation while in motion. One of the more unusual outings is a hike led by indie folk band Magic Giant (July 2, 2 p.m.). They’ll strum guitars and sing along the trail while leading the way, Pied Piper style, to an area where they will give a more structured performance. So stash away those ear buds and discover what it’s like to really be in harmony with your surroundings.

Drop out of Your Routine

If your typical hike is charging up the Ute Trail or a social outing up Smuggler, consider connecting with your surroundings more completely with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ new Soundwalks ( A “soundwalk” is simply a walk devoid of everyday chatter with a focus on really listening to the environment. Guide Thompson Bishop highlights the often secondary sense of hearing to give hikers a more comprehensive experience of nature during the hourlong outings around ACES’s Hallam Lake nature preserve.

Bishop’s musical childhood and love of nature encouraged him to study the phenomenon of increasingly quieter ecosystems and what that means. Attend one or all three excursions (June 23, June 30, and July 7), and discuss what you hear, why you hear it, and why it matters. You may well find that some of the best pictures are painted with your ears.

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