Summer Hikes in the Roaring Fork Valley

Between showing off my beautiful home state to my visiting bestie, hiking through the San Juans, and making trips to Denver, it has been an incredibly busy summer . If we weren’t hiking or swimming or climbing, we were catching up with family and friends and whipping up delicious home cooked meals. The last thing on my mind was putting up blog posts, until all of the sudden there was only a couple weeks of summer left and I had an impressive collection of filled memory cards gathering dust on the kitchen counter.

After procrastinating as usual, I’m squeezing in blog posts and photo editing between flights to catch up before my next trip. I’m headed off to explore caves in Malaysian Borneo, then spend some time at home in Balikpapan before leaving for Bhutan. And while the next few months will by no means be boring, I’m already missing the rhythm of afternoon thunderstorms, meals on the back deck, huddling around a fire, and ending every day muddy, exhausted and content.

Before backpacking through the San Juans, I did a lot of shorter day hikes and adventures near home. These are a few of my favorite hikes around the Roaring Fork Valley:

Boy Scout Trail

Starting a few blocks from downtown Glenwood Springs, Boy Scout Trail climbs up above the Glenwood Canyon with incredible views of the Colorado river and the flattops. The real winner, though, is the morning shade on trail most of the way up- my idea of paradise on a scorching summer day. Just don’t get too caught up in the views and miss the sound of mountain bikers flying down the trail towards you.

Boy Scout TrailBoy Scout TrailBoy Scout Trailhead

Savage Lakes

Savage Lakes: All of the beautiful alpine views, none of the crazy summer crowds or unreasonably long treks in. Hidden at the end of a long road up past Ruedi Reservoir, its a bit of a hidden gem you can often get completely to yourself. Bribe a friend into hauling a stand-up paddle board up the steep two mile trail for you and you’ve got a perfect afternoon.

Savage LakeHike to Savage LakeRuedi Resevoir

Rifle Falls

The last time I visited the falls I was probably sporting pigtails and a teddy bear, but somehow it seemed just as cool this time around. The parking fee is a bummer, but spend enough time crawling around in the caves and getting views of the falls from every angle and it’ll feel worth it.

Rifle Falls, ColoradoRifle Falls CavesRifle Falls, Colorado

Red Mountain

If you don’t mind sharing the summit views with some paragliders, Red Mountain has some of the best views of Glenwood and Sopris I’ve seen. Aim for an early morning or evening hike to avoid sweating to death on your way up.

Red Mountain Views, ColoradoIndian Paintbrush along the trailRed Mountain

Thomas Lakes Trail

If you’re feeling as guilty as I am for never finding the time to climb Sopris, the Thomas Lakes trail is a pretty good half-day conciliation. About 3.6 miles through aspens and wildflowers brings you to the lakes at the base of the Sopris summit trail, where you can relax and plot your trip to the top (which will totally happen soon).

View of Sopris from Thomas Lakes TrailThomas Lakes, CarbondaleThomas Lakes, Colorado

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

— Kahlil Gibran

2 Comments on “Summer Hikes in the Roaring Fork Valley

  1. Good luck on your travels!! We look forward to your updates from the road.

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