Best trails to enjoy Fall colors close to Boulder

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Each year the quest of vistas of golden aspens take front-range locals high up into the mountains to spend time among the magic of the changing colors during the fading of summer light. But you don’t have to travel hours on the road in order to enjoy change of color this season.

Here are a few trails within a short drive from Boulder which you can hike or run to get your color fix.

Switzerland Trail

The Switzerland trail can be accessed just a few mile drive from Downtown Boulder, either via Four Mile Canyon, Sugarloaf Mountain, or through Gold Hill. The old railroad graded trail is wide, flat and 100% runnable offering spectacular vistas over the canyons below and of the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the West. While not engulfed in Aspen groves, there are moments of brilliance along the way.

Macklin Chaffee on Twitter commented, “Amazing run just outside boulder at 9000ft. #Perfect” 

Fall colors along the Switzerland Trail

Fall colors along the Switzerland Trail – Photo Todd Straka

Meyers Homestead Trail

Meyer’s Homestead Trail is up Flagstaff Mountain just before White Ranch Open Space. The trail is 6 miles of an out and back and weaves through a large grove of aspens around the mid point of the distance.

Meadow at Meyer's Homestead

The Meadow at Meyer’s Homestead. Aspens just beyond. Photo by Todd Straka

Mud Lake/Caribou Ranch

One of the favorite destinations of many from the area is Mud Lake and Caribou Ranch just outside of Nederland which boasts 2,151 acres of variety of landscapes to explore including wetlands, meadows, streams and forests.  Kathy Butler of Boulder Track Club agrees “My favorite trail for fall colors is the mud lake mountain park to caribou ranch open space loop. You get distance for those big open mountain vistas but also run right through tunnels of aspens.”

Scott Gorbet captured this at Mud Lake Trail near Caribou Ranch

Scott Gorbet captured this at Mud Lake Trail near Caribou Ranch.


Brainard Lake

One of the most popular trailheads on the Boulder Ranger District, Long Lake Trailhead is located at the west end of the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (BLRA). This trailhead provides access to Pawnee Pass, Jean Lunning, and Isabelle Glacier trails within the Indian Peaks

Long Lake Trail

Long Lake Trail Photo by Marty Kibiloski

Rollinsville Road to Moffet Tunnel

Rollinsville Road is a poplar destination for local runners as it offers high altitude rolling roads amid the high alpine valley opening up to hillsides of Aspen groves.

Rollinsville Road Fall Colors

Gold dappled run on Rollinsville Road today…surrounded by riches! Photo by Amanda McCracken

Mesa Trail

Gold is not the only stunning color that fall brings, you can catch immense fiery patches of Red Sumac along the Mesa Trail.

mountain sumacs around S. mesa trail 2013b

South Boulder Creek or Boulder Valley Ranch

And as the weather cools down at 5,400′, the Cottonwoods will put shine in turn. Cottonwoods are popular along the Bobolink, South Boulder Creek, Boulder Valley Ranch, the Cottonwood trail or along the Coal Creek trail in Louisville.

Cottonwood trees follow suit in October

Cottonwood trees follow suit in October

Where do you find Fall Colors?

What are your favorite trails to run to view the fall colors in the area? Share your photos on instagram or twitter tagged with the hashtag #fallcolors and #BoCo_trails.

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