Last spring when my good friend Ingrid learned we would be back in Colorado this fall, she quickly whipped up a list of “must see and do” mountain towns along our proposed route. As a welcome reminder, she recently posted her favorite mountain towns and added even more places that piqued our interest.
Thankfully we listened to this Colorado gal, for the two stops we made along I-70 in the Rocky Mountains offered our first glimpse of the aspen’s golden shimmering leaves. Those of you who have driven RV’s on I-70 know it’s a scenic drive for the passenger, but not so much for the busy driver, who is trying to avoid frying the brakes and/or transmission on those major grades.
Steve had to focus on the road as we traversed the Rockies and several construction zones, while I was busy snapping away at the gorgeous scenery. Our first mountain town stop was at Breckenridge, located at the base of the Tenmile Range at an elevation of 9,600 ft.
Nothing says “autumn” in Colorado quite like the side of a mountain covered in the stunning leafy gold of aspen trees, and at this elevation they were changing colors daily right outside our door.
Enjoying the fabulous leaf peeping, we just happened to be in town at the right time to check out their annual Oktoberfest celebration. It was a fun event, and several revelers donned German outfits and brought their own steins for frequent refills.
Colorado’s famous high country aspen reliably turn gold beginning the second week of September through the first week of October. And the quaking aspens were aglow as we drove along the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway toward Leadville and then made a detour to Lake County airport. Steve had heard about the highest-elevation airport in the U.S. at over 9,900 ft., and he was pleasantly surprised to discover we were close enough that he could stop by to check it out.
As one might imagine, Colorado has countless top-notch hiking trails surrounded by natural beauty, and while at Breckenridge we hiked two of the three we were hoping to complete.
We started with an easy hike at Hoosier Pass Loop, but it was miserably cold and started raining so we aborted that one early and left after getting a photo at the Continental Divide. But we did complete the other two hikes – a “must do” at McCullough Gulch Trail and a section of the extensive Colorado Trail that we were able to access right out of our campground, Tiger Run RV Resort (Steve’s review here).
Colorado Trail –
Just a short walk from Betsy was an access point to the 500-mile Colorado Trail (we didn’t do all of it 😉 ). We followed switchbacks up the hill behind the RV park and enjoyed beautiful views of the area below. This trail took us through several miles of forests and meadows while providing great views of Tenmile Range and Mt. Quandary, one of the 14ers.
McCullough Gulch Trail –
On another day we followed the McCullough Gulch Trail, considered a hike with elements of quintessential Colorado landscape. This trail meandered through evergreen forests and meadows, and past waterfalls to finally end at an alpine lake at the base of Quandary Peak. There were some challenging sections in this 5+ mile roundtrip trek with an 800-foot elevation gain. The scenery was so gorgeous I don’t think you could take a bad picture here, and my camera was in overdrive. So much beauty to capture and take in, it was definitely one of our top hikes of the year!
And there’s more gold at our next stop!
Wow, that McCullough Gulch trail looks awesome! I just love a trail that has a lot of variety and makes you exclaim with every turn!
Isn’t it great to be back in the mountains hiking! There is never a lose for beautiful scenery. And being in these areas in the fall was perfect. Your hikes look lovely. I love that you could catch the one trail right out your door:) Sure is a gorgeous lunch with a view spot! I know we were pleasantly surprised that we got to see the fall colors. The aspen are just beautiful. Our son was telling us way back how much harder it is take off out here at these higher elevations. He would have enjoyed checking out the airport, as would John.
It seems that Colorado was the place to be this summer and fall. I have seen so many lovely photos and gotten so many great tips from bloggers. The McCullough Gulch Trail looks fabulous!
I’ve got you bookmarked as we’ll be spending most of next year in Colorado. I’m looking forward to some of this fantastic hiking myself! I’ve got a lot of catching up and note taking to do on your blog 🙂
Great to see you having fun in our home state. This is a very good year for Aspen color – enjoy the rest of your “Golden” adventure.
yep, thar’s gold in them thar hills…
The McCullough Gulch Trail looks fabulous! Perfect timing for the fall colors.
How lucky to have a friend to whip up a to do list for you. And boy did she. That gulch trail looks like a real winner. Such wonderful waterfalls. Wish our fall colors here in Shenandoah were as reliable and long lasting as those Aspens. We have a “window” so you just never know. You might make it and you might not unless you want to stay from Mid September until late October. HA!
I’m so glad I could offer some helpful suggestions. I know you’ll be sharing the ‘good’ stuff next. Thanks for the mention.
Wow, wow, and wow!! That McCullough Gulch Trail is amazing! And you were obviously there at the most perfect time. We have definitely got to get ourselves to Colorado. I’m glad you and Ingrid are planning out our trip for us. 🙂 (p.s. Love your many hilarious photo captions. You crack me up.)
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