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Trails – Routes – Peaks

Colorado Fall Adventures

5 Bucket List Fall Activities In Colorado

Top Fall Activities Around Summit County

Fall Rafting Trips

Autumn is the season when we reap the beauty of Colorado’s long, snowy winters and bright, sunny summers. Trees that grew a foot in spring, leafed out exuberantly, and sucked in the high alpine sunshine now burst into a last flash of color as the sun declines toward the horizon. It’s leaf-peeping season! But why sit in your car driving around roads crowded with gawkers when you can get off the beaten path and enjoy golden aspens and rosy dogwoods with your friends in Colorado’s wild lands.

Seeking autumn adventures in Summit County, CO? Look no further than Colorado Adventure Guides. Embark on a captivating guided hike, mountain bike ride, climbing excursion, or mellow float on the Colorado River to witness the breathtaking golden aspens that adorn the Colorado landscape during fall. With their extensive knowledge of Summit County’s prime locations for autumn foliage, the expert guides at CAG will lead you to unforgettable sights.

1. Rafting On The Upper Colorado

Okay, so yes, the river will be lower than in spring, and the whitewater will be more manageable, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing not to get overly wet when the weather will be milder and the sun softer. Days in September and October are often quite warm down in the river valley, and the colors you’ll see on the drive over to Rancho del Rio alone will be worth your time. Once on the river you’ll see dogwoods and willows radiating the full spectrum of red-orange-yellow colors. Fall grasses wave yellow and orange in the breeze, and the duck and geese with their grown chicks will be filling up on ripe grass seed, preparing to head down to warmer climates. Needle’s Eye rapid at lower levels is tricky, and Yarmony is bony, but your guide will funnel you through narrow passes. You’ll zip through tall, dark, stony canyons and float past ranchlands and river islands covered with colorful fall vegetation. Experience autumn from water level, a whole new perspective.

State Bridge On The Upper Colorado

Introduction to Rock Climbing Course

2. Guided Rock Climbing Tour

Frankly, fall is our favorite time to rock climb. There’s less chance of afternoon showers that make the rock slick, and the sunshine is milder so you won’t bake on the rock wall. Most families have gone home because kids are back in school, and local aficionados are around to guide you. We’ll provide all the gear you need and teach you climbing fundamentals.

3. Mountain Bike Through Aspen Groves

Hop on a mountain bike and cruise up and down Dillon, Frisco, or Breckenridge’s mountain bike trails. We’ll load your group and your bikes up in a van, and drive you over to some of the best singletrack runs in the state. If you want to boost your confidence and expand your range of trail options, our guides will teach you skills like berm and flat turn cornering, beginner drops and jumps, introduce you to technical riding, and more. Tell us what you want, and our guides will take you there: grinding climbs, flowy downhills, or cruisers past winding historic mining towns. Most trails will take you past forests with yellow-orange aspens and towering pines.

Mountain Biking Through Aspen Groves in Summit County, CO

Fall Activities in Colorado

4. Hike Through The Fall Colors

Hike aspen-lined trails to new heights. Our guides will lead you up their favorite fall trails away from the crowds. In the fall hiking trails are often lined with fresh fallen golden aspen leaves, and you can walk over a route reminiscent of the yellow brick road to Oz. A whole corridor of aspens glows like a golden tunnel, shining warmly all around you. The aroma is kinder and more loamy than that of a clean, stark piney forest scent; the atmosphere is soft and wistful. Take a picnic and enjoy this brief, special season with the whole family.  Learn about preparing for variable fall weather here.

5. Paddle Board Tour On Lake Dillon

Tour Lake Dillon’s Islands on a stand up paddle board or in an inflatable kayak. In the fall, summer’s strong afternoon winds and clouds typically die down, and the Lake can be sunny and smooth as glass even in the second, and warmer, half of the day. The Reservoir is lined with shrubs that change from green to red and orange, exploding like small campfires on the shores you’ll cruise past. Tall grasses on the uninhabited islands turn golden and bright, and ducks and geese cruise past diving for fish or eating seeds on the shore. You may see deer and elk with furry fall racks jousting for mates, and eagles and osprey hunting fish before the lake freezes over solid. Bring the whole family; we’ll supply all you need: splash jackets, life vests, and SUPs or kayaks. This is a great place to learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding.

Paddle Board on Lake Dillon, CO in Fall

Book A Fall Adventure With Colorado Adventure Guides!

Experience the beauty of Fall in the Rockies with Colorado Adventure Guides. Choose from a range of guided adventures, including hiking, biking, and rock climbing expeditions. Our expert local guides will ensure an amazing experience for you.

Fall Activities in Colorado

5 Tips for Fall in Colorado

5 Tips for Enjoying Fall in Colorado

Make the most of your fall adventures in Colorado with a few of our seasonal tips!

Colorado Fall Adventures

It’s the time of year when the days get shorter and the mornings begin with a frosty chill in the air. Summer is about to give way to fall, but winter isn’t here yet, and that means there’s still plenty of time left to get out and enjoy some time adventuring in the mountains. It’s most tempting to flock to trails along stands of aspen trees as they light up in yellow and orange, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for doing just that. But after you’ve gotten your leaf-peeper fix in, don’t forget about all the high alpine adventures still to be had.

Fall is arguably the best time to get up in the alpine in Colorado. The tundra flushes with hues of gold and maroon and clear, bluebird days become the norm. Especially after a monsoon season like we’ve had this summer, the high peaks seem to beckon this time of year. As summer transitions to the colder months, we start to see fewer thunderstorms in the forecast which means less electricity in the sky to shy us away from the alpine. These favorable forecasts mean more opportunities to tackle bigger hiking and mountaineering objectives.

If you’re making your way to Colorado’s High Country this September and October, here are our tips for how to make the most of this wonderful season.

Fall Hikes in Colorado

1. Layers!

Summer has slipped away and winter is on its way. The mornings have some extra chill to them now, with temps often plunging into the 30’s as the days go on. Most adventures will start off rather chilly, but with blue skies and mild weather in the forecast, the days warm up quickly. So whether you’re out for a short morning hike or a full-day ascent, always have an extra layer or two on hand. And even though mid-day may seem warm, the sun only sinks faster these days and as soon as it’s gone that chill comes right back.

Leaf Peeping in Colorado

2. Beat the Crowds

Here in Summit County, things start to slow down a little after Labor Day weekend. Long gone are the crowds that come in July, and that means more mountain solitude for us to enjoy. But just because the crowds have thinned, that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. This time of year, most people will seek out areas thick with aspens for their fall color viewing pleasure, and you should absolutely do that too (no one can deny how beautiful it is). But after you’ve taken a fall drive along Boreas Pass Road and biked the leaf-covered berms on Aspen Alley, set your sights to the high alpine for solitude and a little extra adventure.

Fall in Summit County Colorado

3. Fall Fourteeners

Summer thunderstorms scare you off from your 14er summit attempts? Well those dark clouds come around less often in September and October, which means more weather windows for summiting Colorado’s highest peaks. This is a great time of year to go for the longer missions, or even just to sleep in a little before starting your hike. More often than not, you won’t have to worry about being back below treeline by the early afternoon, so you can linger a little more in the alpine.

Check the Weather Before Hiking

4. Check the Weather

While thunderstorms are far less frequent as the days get shorter and cooler, that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. Always check the weather before heading out. Plus, this will give you a better idea of what layers to bring. It may be 35 degrees at the trailhead, but half way through your day you could be basking in 75-degree sunshine. Be prepared for extreme temperature changes in a short amount of time! Don’t be surprised to catch some snow snow flurries on the same day you were hiking in a tee shirt.

Fall in Summit County Colorado

5. Catch the Colors!

Experiencing Colorado’s aspen groves turn to bright orange and yellow is truly an unforgettable site! Unfortunately, there is a pretty tight window of time to get your leaf peeping in. Due to the high alpine temperature swings a wintery cold snap can come along and cause the aspen’s to lose their leaves. Get after it while the getting is good! If the aspen groves are starting to turn, make time to get out and enjoy your favorite fall activities while the colors are still peaking.

Hire a Guide for Fall Adventures

Colorado Adventure Guides offers amazing guided adventure to experience Fall in the Rockies. Book one of local expert guides to go on a fall hike, bike ride or rock climbing expedition.

peak ascent - grays and torreys

7 Tips for Hiking a Fourteener in Colorado

6 Reasons to Take a Mountain Bike Skills Course in Colorado

7 Important Tips for Hiking one of Colorado’s Fourteeners

How to Hike a Fourteener: Tips for Climbing Grays, Torreys, Quandary, and other High Colorado Summits

Guided Hiking in Colorado

For hikers in Colorado, few objectives are more sought after than the state’s 58 peaks above 14,000 feet. Some of the best peaks accessed from Summit County include Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, and Quandary Peak. All of these mountains offer up a great intro to climbing Colorado’s Fourteeners.

Hikers from Denver to Florida flock to Colorado’s high Rockies to hike to our many 14,00-foot summits, and many may not realize what an undertaking a climb like this can be. But with proper planning and preparation, you’ll find yourself safely back at the trailhead reminiscing on summit stories.

Understanding the Terrain: What’s it Like to Climb a Fourteener?

Guided Peak Ascents in Colorado

Colorado has the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the U.S. We’ve got our high average elevation and proximity to the Rockies and Continental Divide to thank for that. Because these peaks rise far above treeline, the terrain is a rocky alpine wonderland that is both imposing and challenging. Fourteener difficulty varies widely from peak to peak—some have a well-maintained and easy to follow trail to the summit, while others require skilled route-finding and often ropes and climbing skills.

No matter which peak you choose to climb, you’re bound to be met with a rewarding challenge. You’ll need to climb thousands of feet of elevation gain on the hike up and then have the energy to get back down after a summit celebration. You’ll likely traverse sections of loose rock and boulder fields and you’ll probably find yourself on a windy ridge. And, of course, you’ll be topping out over 14,000 feet above sea level, so you’ll need to be acclimated to the elevation. The challenge of climbing one of Colorado’s Fourteeners will reward you with views of surrounding high peaks, alpine flora and fauna, and a good leg-burning hike to remember.

Successful Summits: Common Mistakes and Tips for Hiking your First Fourteener

If you’re new to hiking Colorado’s high peaks, it’s necessary to be prepared for the adventure. It can be easy to overlook the details before you head out for your trek, but if you’ve done your research and trained well, you’re more likely to have a great time on your push to the summit.

Guided Hiking Tours in Summit County, Colorado

1. Assess your Fitness Level

Climbing a Fourteener is more demanding than your typical hiking trail. You’ll be out for multiple hours, climbing in elevation, and encountering alpine terrain. Be sure you’re physically prepared for the challenge before you set out from the trailhead with the summit in mind. Many hikers new to Fourteeners underestimate how tough the climb can be, and the hike isn’t over once you’re at the summit; you’ve got to get back to the trailhead safely, too. The more physically prepared you are for the climb, the better the experience will be. Hit the trails and hike some steeper climbs as training before you set your sights on a Fourteener.

Guided Fourteeners in Colorado

2. Acclimate to Altitude

The altitude in Colorado is no joke. Going from a low elevation up to 14,000 feet too quickly is a bad idea. Take the time to adjust to the thinner mountain air before starting your climb. Do a shorter hike at a moderate elevation, or spend a night at camp before you hit the high peaks to help your lungs and legs adjust. Doing this will only make your Fourteener hike that much more enjoyable.

Fourteener Route Selection

3. Know your Route

Do your homework before you head out to hike. Study maps and trail routes so you know where you’re headed before your boots hit the dirt. For most Fourteeners, it’s crucial to stay on your intended route in order to avoid impassable sections of trail, like cliffs. Know how many miles you have ahead of you and how much climbing you’ll have to do so that you can get a better gauge of how long it will take.

Packing for Fourteeners

4. Pack the Essentials

Bring a pack along for the trek and make sure it’s full of everything you need for your hike: water, food, navigation, layers, first aid, and communication. Bring more water than you think you’ll need; the high alpine can dehydrate you quickly, between the altitude, wind, and sun. Sip plenty of water throughout the hike to stay hydrated. Have trail snacks on hand, and maybe even pack a lunch to chow on at the summit. Be sure that you have a map and compass (and know how to read and use them). GPS navigation can be helpful too if that’s your style, but don’t rely on that alone. Anytime you venture into the wilderness, it’s always a good idea to have some basic first aid on hand.

When you pick your layers for the hike, remember that it may be calm and warm at the trailhead, but that 14,000-foot summit is likely to be chilly and windy. Bring extra layers just in case and definitely don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen—the rays are strong up here!

Check the Weather Before Hiking

5. Check the Weather

Colorado is fickle. One minute it will be hot and sunny, and the next it could be snowing and blowing. Take a good look at the weather forecast when you’re planning your hike. In the summer months, it’s common for afternoon thunderstorms to roll in and the last place you want to be when there’s lightning is above treeline on a high peak.

Summer Peak Ascents in Colorado

6. Get out Early

Many Fourteener hikers fancy headlamps, and for a good reason. Getting an early (often pre-dawn) start on these high peaks is a great way to ensure you’ve got plenty of time to hike and to help you avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that linger in the mountains mid-summer. And there’s another bonus to early starts: watching the sunrise color the mountains from the trail.

Summer Peak Ascents in Colorado

7. Know When to Turn Around

It’s great to plan hikes with an objective, like a 14,000-foot summit, but it’s also important to know when these objectives may be out of reach on any given day. Sometimes it’s the weather and others it’s how you’re feeling. Either way, knowing when it’s time to turn around and try another day is a crucial skill for hikers.

When it comes to weather, keep an eye on the skies. If you see dark clouds forming and you haven’t reached the summit yet, it’s time to turn around and try another day before the lightning and thunder end up right overhead. The summit will always be there.

It’s also important to look out for signs of altitude sickness when hiking at high elevations. Common symptoms are nausea, headache, and fatigue. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill to instantly cure altitude sickness and the best thing to do is go down to a lower elevation. If you’re not feeling well, don’t try to struggle to the summit anyway. Most instances of altitude sickness are mild, but pushing it too hard can result in more serious conditions like High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Turn around before you have to remember those acronyms.

As long as you’re well prepared, hiking Colorado’s Fourteeners is a fun and rewarding challenge that allows you to be immersed in the high Rockies. Avoid the common mistakes of hikers new to this challenge and you’ll likely have a good time and hopefully find yourself with some summit stories to take home with you.

Fourteeners Near Summit County: Grays, Torreys, and Quandary Peak

For visitors to Summit County, the easiest accessed Fourteeners are Quandary Peak and Grays and Torreys Peaks. Quandary sits just south of Breckenridge near Hoosier Pass and is a great intro to hiking Fourteeners. Grays and Torreys sit along the Front Range on the edge of Summit County. The two peaks are connected by a saddle and are often hiked together in the same day. For hikers climbing these peaks for the first time without a guide, we highly recommend taking the standard route up each peak as it will be the most straight-forward, easiest to follow, and usually the least challenging.

What if I want to Hire a Guide?

We’re here to help! Climbing a Fourteener with an experienced local guide has many benefits. A guide can help with showing you the route while offering up fun facts about the area you’re hiking in. Plus, if you’re interested in climbing one of the peaks near Summit County, like Grays and Torreys or Quandary from an alternate route, a guide can show you the way through mountain meadows and up alpine ridgelines to the summit with fewer crowds and spicier trails. 

Colorado Adventure Guides operates on Quandary Peak, where we guide both the standard route and alternate routes to the summit, as well as Grays and Torreys Peaks where we take hikers up alternative routes, like Kelso Ridge. Or, if a day hike doesn’t quite satisfy, we guide overnight hikes, camping near treeline before summiting the next day. 

Guided Hiking in Colorado

Giving Back Through Trail Work

Well-built, well-maintained trail: You might not notice it while you’re out there, but you’ll certainly notice its absence. The miles of singletrack in Summit County require countless hours of work to build and maintain. Here at Colorado Adventure Guides, we love to hike, bike, and run all summer. Each berm we sail around on our bikes and every switchback that eases ascent of a 14er is the product of many hands and many hours. Conversely, downed trees, braided trail, puddles that won’t drain, and severe erosion indicate a trail needs some TLC. With so many miles of trail and the maintenance needs imposed by harsh winters and high traffic, it’s impossible for local governing bodies to maintain local trails on their own. Local agencies rely on volunteers to get the job done, and there are many opportunities this summer to give back to our trails. Whether you’re a local who uses our trails daily, a guide who makes a living on the trails, or a visitor exploring our trails while vacationing, if you’re a trail user, the trails need you to put in some time returning the love.

CAG guide Anthony Lanata recently did just that while volunteering with Friends of Breckenridge Trails. Anthony planted perennials at the River Park, an area we love to take guests on our 2-hour mountain bike tour of Breckenridge. Friends of Breckenridge Trails cares for the fantastic trail network of Town of Breckenridge trails that we love to guide, and they’re offering several more volunteer days this summer. On Saturday, July 13 (and on four subsequent Saturdays), you can join them to construct the new Redpig Trail, a link between two preexisting trails to allow for even longer loops on the trails we love.

Elsewhere in the county, the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District leads a variety of volunteer projects to improve local trail. This Saturday, June 29, you can join FDRD for trail work on the Colorado Trail at Gold Hill, one of our favorite access points for long runs and bike rides. On July 12, help out with a variety of forest restoration work in the trail networks off Tiger Road. Or join for a day of trail maintenance on July 17 in Horseshoe Gulch, a popular local area where we’ve guided a few early season hikes already this year. FDRD leads volunteer trail work projects multiples times most every week of summer, and you’ll find all their projects on their online calendar.

The popularity of Summit County’s 14ers means the trails on these peaks need plenty of care. Quandary Peak, one of Colorado Adventure Guides’ most popular hikes, saw a highly impactful 24,000 users in 2017. The non-profit Colorado Fourteeners Initiative organizes volunteer projects to build and maintain sustainable trails on Colorado’s highest peaks, and you can volunteer with CFI this summer to improve some of the most-used trails in our county. Work with CFI on June 28, August 3, or August 15 on Grays and Torreys or August 1 on Quandary Peak. More info on each project is available on the CFI website.


Whether on foot or bike, all trail users benefit from the hard work of previous volunteers. Join us in practicing good stewardship of the places we love by volunteering. We hope to see you out there moving rocks, closing social trails, building switchbacks, and preventing erosion with us soon!

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