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Elle Ossello | 08.30.2017

The Rocky Mountains sever the western half of North America effectively in two with its grandiose tumult of craggy peaks, sweeping valleys, lazy rivers, and—in the fall—vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges. The range stretches over 3,000 miles from the far reaches of British Columbia all the way down into the upper bits of New Mexico, and it punctuates skyline the whole way. Even for a mountain range, its old age is revered by geologists. It was born in, what was presumably, a magnificent fashion between 55 and 80 million years ago—impressive when you compare it to the relatively young 8-million-year-old Northern Cascades.

And it shows. Miles of crumbling talus fields, evident erosion, and the sweeping variety of exposed rock make the Rockies simply feel old. The best part: Even the most determined adventurer could spend a lifetime discovering new and wondrous nooks to explore. 

As the aspens begin to ignite the hillsides, there’s hardly a better time to get out and go for a day hike. We’ve made a list of some of our favorites below, but it’s nowhere near comprehensive. Grab your favorite hiking buddy (four-legged or otherwise), pack some hot cider in a thermos for the trailhead, and head out!

As always, to do your part in protecting and preserving these wild places. Please always practice the principles of Leave No Trace and make a concerted effort to leave the trail better than you found it. 

 

San Juan Mountains, CO

  1. Chicago Basin: 6 miles | 2,815-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Lake Hope: 5 miles | 1,200-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  3.  Wilson Meadows: 7.5 miles | 1,119-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed

Elk Mountains, CO

  1. Interlaken Trail: 4.8 miles | 100-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. La Plata Peak: 9.2 miles | 4,500-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  3. Hunter Creek Trail: 6.4 miles | 576-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed

Gore + Mosquito Range, CO

  1. McCullough Gulch: 2.6 miles | 810-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Mohawk Lakes: 6.8 miles | 1,683-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  3. Lower Boulder Lake: 5.7 miles | 626-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed

Northern Front Range, CO

  1. Diamond Lake: 5.3 miles | 770-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Mount Audubon: 8 miles | 2,850-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  3. Lily Mountain: 3.2 miles | 930-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed

Wind River Range, WY

  1. Lake Louise Trail: 4.8 miles | 782-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Lewis to Shoshone Lake: 11 miles | 393-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed

Teton Range, WY

  1. Taggart + Bradley Lakes: 6.5 miles | 585-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed
  2. Surprise + Amphitheater Lakes: 10.2 miles | 2,966-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed
  3. Teton Crest Trail: 50.3 miles | Over 4,000-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed

Greater Yellowstone, WY

  1. Swan Lake Loop: 3 miles | 80-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed
  2. Fairy Falls: 10 miles | 500-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed
  3. Bacon Find Creek: 4.2 miles | 170-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed

Gallatin River Valley, MT

  1. Mount Blackmore: 11.2 miles | 3,434-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Chestnut Mountain: 10 miles | 2,300-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  3. Hood Creek: 4.6 miles | 900-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed

Northern Absaroka Range, MT

  1. Pine Creek Lake: 10 miles | 3,400-foot elevation gain | Dogs allowed
  2. Trail to Sperry Chalet: 13.4 miles | 3,400-foot elevation gain | Dogs NOT allowed | Note that a 2017 wildfire has destroyed the Sperry Chalet itself

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