By Caitlin DeGraff

Best Hiking in Aspen

I’m not going to lie. At times I prefer the gym more than taking a run and indulging in nature.  The gym is efficient and easy to access. We all have those days when it’s more convenient just to hop on the treadmill, without distractions and just run. Although when a beautiful day arrives in Aspen, Colorado, I ditch the treadmill  and walk up to experience some of the best hiking in Aspen – Smuggler Mountain Trail. I have lived in Aspen for around ten years and now that summer is here with perfect 80 degree temperatures, I can’t resist hiking. One of my favorite trails is Smuggler. Not only is it easy to access, with its location being right in town, but it also is a trail that works for hikers of all fitness and ability levels. I constantly hike with my local friends up Smuggler. We will walk at a faster pace to make the trail harder. When I go with my friends visiting from lower elevations and aren’t used to hiking, I back off the pace and since the trail isn’t steep, we can slowly chat and walk up. You’ve heard the John Denver songs about Aspen scenery, but every time I walk up Smuggler, I find myself being the first one to say, “this view is unbelievable, one of the most special in Aspen.”

Best Hiking in AspenDuring the walk up the trail, if you turn your head to the left your are eyes are directed toward a landscape of The City of Aspen, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Red Butte, Buttermilk, and Mount Sopris which truly is one of the best vista points in the area. Smuggler is the site of an abandoned mine from Aspen’s days as a mining town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. You begin the hike by walking up a dusty road and then as you continue upward it turns into more on a trail that winds its way above Aspen. The light and landscape is mesmerizing. There are a few options, if time is tight, you can stop at the Observation Deck, where you can stretch and rest. If you have more time you can continue to the very top or branch off into the Hunter Creek trail. Either way, Smuggler is the perfect hike to chat up about the latest gossip, look at the exquisite summer scenery, and burn those calories. Sometimes I even do it twice in a day.  Even if you are a gym- junkie (sometimes me), if you are in Aspen in the summer it is a necessity to go up Smuggler.

See you on the trail!