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Best Colorado area for fall hiking??

Jwerking

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Got an RCI exchange to West Yellowstone for last week in August - so trying to add some time in CO for some scenic easy to moderate hiking up to 4 hrs. Lots of timeshares in CO - so would appreciate any suggestions. Do ski areas such as Vail and Steamboat have good hiking opportunities?

I would love to visit Rocky Mountain NP and research shows 3 resorts in Estes Park. However, given the unfortunate October fires, would this not be time to visit due to the damage - such a shame.

Thanks for any help.
 

sue1947

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Any of the ski areas offer good hiking options as well. The issue will be elevation and how you handle the altitude. I find I do best sleeping at 8000' or so and that eliminates some of the areas. You will have some time at Yellowstone to get acclimated which will help.
If Estes Park is out, how about the Indian Peaks area south of there? I'm not sure how far the fires reached.
If you can get a trade into Aspen, there is great hiking in the Maroon Bells and, even better, up out of Independence Pass (we stayed at the Mt Elbert lodge in Twin Lakes on the other side of the pass which was a nice option).
Otherwise, pick a ski area and research hikes in that area; they all have some. Steamboat Springs is probably less crowded than the Vail/Breckinridge area. Telluride is also spectacular, but a more difficult trade (plus the afternoon thunderstorms that are pervasive throughout the Rockies seemed more severe there).
 

jlabguy

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I wouldn't let the fires from last year stop you from going to RMNP and Estes Park. Fire is natures way of renewal and will actually bring a great deal of new growth come the spring. One of the reasons that the fires were able to spread so quickly is that the area has had pine beetle disease spread through their pines leaving a great deal of easily burnable material. (Think dead trees without foliage that had been standing for a number of years.) The west side of the park near and around Grand Lake had the greatest area of burn and the east side will still have plenty of hiking areas that were untouched (and still have some of the dead pines). Even the burn areas will have interesting looks as there will be a combination of burnt trees along with new growth. Here is a short video of one of the burn areas at the start of the Fern Lake trailhead.

 

RunCat

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Personally, I would look into the Vail/Avon area. Some hiking in the area. Some nice hikes out of Beaver Creek. Also a hour+ drive to Glenwood Springs or 2 hours to Grand Junction and the Palisade Wine Country. It might also be worth making a reservation (and paying the fee) to hike to Hanging Lake.
But, almost anywhere in the Rockies will give you plenty of opportunities to explore.
 

Krteczech

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As of right now prospect for RMNP hiking next summer is good. Yes, fire damage is noticeable, but doesn’t limit hiking options. Early October almost guarantees good hiking weather. I am only talking abou access from Estes Park side. Two beautiful hiking areas are off Peak to Peak Hwy between Estes Park and Nederlan. Wild Basin (RMNP) and Brainard Lakes Recreational Area.
 

klpca

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We've been to both Estes/RMNP and Beaver Creek for hiking. Both are nice and I think that it may come down to availability for you. BC/Vail will be a much easier trade.
 

Laurie

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IMO, RMNP offers better, more spectacular hiking than Vail area, we've also done both. Actually before Estes Park we started with a week at Vail to acclimate to the altitude, which was a wise choice for me, because it takes this flatlander some extra days, and some trails in RMNP did push me to my limit, but so worth it. Vail area's an easier trade with more resorts, so I'd lock in Estes Park first and then find something in Vail/BC for the prior week. Or, depending on where you're starting, Yellowstone would also give you the acclimation time.

If you choose Vail/BC, I concur with recommendation for Hanging Lake trail near Glenwood Springs, nice day trip from Vail: hike up and down, and then recouperate in the hot springs. Also loved Maroon Bells, which we did as part of a driving loop through Glenwood Springs area, and hiked around that lake near the end of the day, and had the place almost to ourselves.
 
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