Horse Ranch Park

Crested Butte

One of the best fall color hikes in Crested Butte.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
8.8 km
Ascent
468 m
Descent
468 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.7 km
High Point
3 km
Gradient
10˚
VIEW ON MAP
Horse Ranch Park Map

Description

The Horse Park Trail is renowned as one of the best hikes to enjoy fall colors in Crested Butte. The beautiful golden fall leaves are all thanks to the Kebler Pass aspen grove. As you hike through this massive aspen grove, not only will you enjoy fantastic fall colors, but you'll also get to experience first-hand one of the world's largest living organisms.

According to an article on 5280.com, "The white-barked aspen (populus tremuloides) reproduce through their roots, known as suckers, which send up new chutes that eventually grow up to become trees. In other words: Their root systems are completely interconnected." While there is some debate about exactly which aspen grove is the largest, the one on Kebler Pass is in the running!

Since the entire grove is one interconnected organism, the leaves on all of the aspen trees leaf out at the same time in the spring, and they turn color at the same time in the fall.

In addition to hiking beneath the deep forest canopy, just a couple miles after leaving the trailhead you'll reach a stunning overlook that provides gorgeous views of the aspen grove, and mountains in all directions! These viewpoints consist of "two rocky outcroppings on the left side" just shy of the two-mile mark, according to TravelCrestedButte.com. "Take a moment or two to breathe in the 50 mile view. This is a good turnaround point to keep your hike under 4 miles."

To complete the rest of the loop as mapped here, just remember to turn right at every trail junction.

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September, October

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area