Maroon Bells

Aspen Hiking

Mark and I just got back from an awesomely relaxing week in Colorado: Aspen, Snowmass and Denver. We were lucky enough to be the recipients of an extremely generous offer to stay at The Timbers in Snowmass – a club with a friendly and welcoming staff.

driving to Snowmass
driving to Snowmass

We hit the timing perfectly between seasons: restaurants and shops were reopen after the April/May offseason, but everything was pretty quiet prior to next week’s Food & Wine Classic which is the unofficial kick-off to summer that brings thousands of visitors to the villages.

at the top of Aspen Mountain (we took the gondola up)
at the top of Aspen Mountain (we took the gondola up) – it was the last day of skiing at the top!

Our apartment set up was perfect and 180 degrees opposite from our NYC apartment, in that it was HUGE! Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, an enormous kitchen with every appliance and amenity you could ever want, a fireplace, large deck and a grill. It was fabulous to lounge about reading books and snacking on chips and salsa that the staff had pre-bought for us, along with other breakfast and lunch groceries.

the huge apartment!
the huge apartment!

Each day while we were staying in Snowmass, we took a morning hike on Snowmass or Aspen trails (we were staying on East Coast time as much as possible so waking up bright and early), spent the afternoon by the pool (which we usually had all to ourselves) and then cleaned up and went out for a yummy dinner.

lounging by the pool
lounging by the pool

One day we also took a day-trip to the town of Basalt for lunch, gallery-hopping and to march around the self-guided tour of the historic sites.

Hike #1: Maroon Bells & Crater Lake – One of the most photographed spots in Colorado, Maroon Bells mountains were picture-perfectly reflected in the lake below. We only went the one morning, but I would’ve loved to go back at different times of the day to see the varying colors and light. There were very few people around, and Mark spotted two moose before we hiked another mile or two past to Crater Lake, a peacefully quiet spot for a snack.

Maroon Bells - look at that reflection!!
Maroon Bells – look at that reflection!!

 

crystal clear reflection at Maroon Bells
crystal clear reflection at Maroon Bells

Hike #2: Smuggler’s Mountain – Definitely the hottest trek we took, which was also one of the steepest up an unpaved road to a cool look-out over Aspen.

the trail names are like Candyland! We unfortunately didn't make it to the Lollipop or Tootsie Roll trails
the trail names are like Candyland! We unfortunately didn’t make it to the Lollipop or Tootsie Roll trails

Hike #3: Rim Trail South – In Snowmass there is a fairly quick hike to a look-out called Yin Yang (due to the marble yin yang symbol embedded in the marble slab at the top of the mountain). We then trekked further on, coming to Sinclair Road, where the lovely staff came to pick us up. As the name implies, the trail following the ridge of the mountains, with great views down both sides. Some sections were slightly vertigo-inspiringly-cliffy.

View from the Rim Trail
View from the Rim Trail

Hike #4: Hunter’s Creek Trail – This was one of my favorite hikes that took us through the woods along the “creek” which was really more like a raging river. We took it almost until the point that it met up with Smuggler’s Mountain, but once the incline started getting really steep, I turned us around to head back.

Hunter's Creek
Hunter’s Creek

Hike #5: Grottos – In Independence Pass (a scary cliff-hanging road out of Aspen that’s only open in the summer), there are ice caves and “cascades” (again, an understatement since this was also quite the river/waterfall sequence) that you can climb around and over, with great spots for relaxing and lunching.

Next up: The dining scene and Denver

 

 

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