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Jun27

Top wildflower hikes in Aspen Snowmass

Just as visitors and locals alike flock to the mountains in the fall to view the leaves turning, Aspen Snowmass also sees many hikers heading up to explore its many wildflower-covered meadows and trails during mid-to-late-July, which is prime time for wildflowers in the Elk Mountains. Widely agreed upon to be one of the best regions in Colorado for lush pockets of flora, the Elks are a must-see destination for photographers, hikers and anyone looking for a beautiful view.

See our top picks for some of the best trails in Aspen Snowmass that contain picture-worthy wildflower scenes:

Hunter Creek Valley

wildflowers on hunter creek valley trailPhoto: Aspen Snowmass

For easy access to vibrant wildflowers and feelings of seclusion, Hunter Creek Valley is the perfect place to get out and explore Aspen's lively backyard. From incredible mountain views and sights of neighboring ski resorts to historic mining-era cabins, there is plenty to keep your attention as you trek through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Mid-July is the best time to visit the valley, as its meadows, creek marshes and groves are filled with a variety of wildflowers, ranging from lupine to Indian paintbrushes.

Hunter Creek Valley can be accessed three different ways: via the 4x4 Smuggler Mountain Road, from Hunter Creek Trail, which starts being Hunter Creek apartments or by driving to the upper access parking lot on Red Mountain Road.

Sunnyside Trail

the columbine wildflower on Sunnyside TrailPhoto: Aspen Snowmass

Breathtaking—literally—mountain views aren't the only things you'll gain on the 2,000-plus foot ascent on the Sunnyside Trail. Large patches of wildflowers await hikers on this beautiful trail, including the Colorado state flower, the columbine, which comes in various shades and hues near the upper reaches of Sunnyside. You can either hike in and out, or hike the entire 10 miles through to Hunter Creek Valley, where you'll experience two wildflower adventures in one.

Aspen to Crested Butte

wildflowers on aspen to crested butte trailPhoto: Aspen Snowmass

Skip the three hour drive this summer and instead hike the 11 miles from Aspen to Crested Butte. If you're up for 3,200 feet in elevation gain, this hike will surely reward you with jaw-dropping mountain views, rows of aspen trees and meadows full of brilliantly-colored wildflowers, including mariposa lily, blue flax, fairy sippers, columbine, lupine and alpine sunflowers. 

Hikers coming from Aspen should plan to start on the Maroon Lake Trailhead, or from Schofield Pass if you are coming from Crested Butte. You can either hike back and out, or arrange to have a friend pick you up on the other side.

Conundrum Creek Trail

Rated as "superb" for mountain views and wildflowers by the U.S. Forest Service, Conundrum Creek Trail is mostly popular for its access to Conundrum Hot Springs, but it's also a prime area to observe some seriously stunning wildflowers. The trail will take you on an 8.5-mile journey through meadows, aspen groves, creeks and gorgeous patches of flora. 

Normally rated as hard due to its length, most hikers agree that the Conundrum Creek Trail is moderate with gradual ascents. Although it’s completely normal to turn around at any point of the hike and head back down.

Government Trail

government trail near aspen snowmassPhoto: Aspen Snowmass

The Government Trail is another popular one with hikers, as it connects Buttermilk ski area with Snowmass, and can easily be hiked from either starting point, although the best wildflower fields tend to favor the Buttermilk portion. July is the best month to visit this area, as the purple lupine serves as an overgrown decoration along the trail, which is often best viewed during the late afternoon as the sun fades in the background.

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