One of our favorite things to do during autumn when the leaves turn vibrantly colorful is to go hiking in the mountains. At these elevations, around 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), the leaves change sooner than they do in other places and they also don’t last long as winter arrives swiftly. We went to Mueller State Park, located about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, and spent a day hiking among the pine trees and aspen trees. The temperatures were cool and the skies were clear, so it was a perfect day to spend time in the mountains on some trails that we haven’t previously hiked.
The great thing about hiking in the high country is that you get a mix of seeing the changing colors up close as well as the tapestry of colors across the skyline. The park is located on the backside of Pikes Peak and the scenery was simply amazing as it almost always is at this time of year. The colors are mostly the golds and yellows of the aspen groves surrounded by the deep greens of the pine trees, which is different than the reds and oranges that you find in most places. If you get a chance to visit Colorado in autumn, we’d highly recommend that you get into the mountains, even if just by car.
We spent a long weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado and one of our main priorities was to get out and do some hiking. Breckenridge has many options for hiking trails, so we chose one that was near where we were staying called Burro Trail. The trail is considered moderate and has some beautiful scenery, including following a stream for much of it. The overall elevation gain wasn’t too bad, although it was steep in some places, which is pretty normal for any hike in the Colorado mountains.
In order to get to the trailhead, we had to take a smaller trail that wound its way through the woods near our condominium. Although not part of Burro Trail, it was also quite beautiful, winding through meadows, woods, and crossing several streams. Once on the actual trail, we hiked through pine tree forests and saw a variety of wildflowers as well as some wild berries. The weather was absolutely perfect with mild temperatures and sunny skies. Burro Trail is an “out and back” trail that is a little over 6 miles in length if you do the entire trail. We didn’t go to the very end, but close enough to give us a good 3 1/2 hour hike.
As with many trails in the mountains, we came across a few other hikers, but for the most part we were alone to enjoy the tranquility of nature. We didn’t come across any wildlife during our hike, but we were told that moose are particularly active around Breckenridge this time of year. With such beautiful scenery, Burro Trail was a perfect hike to start our time in Breckenridge. It was strenuous enough to get our legs tired and earn a couple of craft beers.
We decided to look for a trail near Colorado Springs that we hadn’t hiked previously and found the Monument Rock Extended Trail that is located in the nearby town of Monument. The trail is rated as moderate and takes you by an impressive rock feature known as Monument Rock. The trail itself goes through the woods, across meadows, and has views of the mountains. There are several intertwining trails, some of which will take you to the top of Mount Herman, which is the peak that sits above the trail. There are also some that are rated hard, so it is important to pay attention to which trail you are following as it isn’t well marked.
The Monument Rock Extended Trail is a loop that goes right next to Monument Rock, which is quite impressive. The full loop is about 2.7 miles, so it makes for a nice hike with an elevation gain that is less than 300 feet. The views are spectacular and, as is typical for this time of year, there are many wildflowers along the trail. The highlight of the hike is certainly Monument Rock, which stands out due to its size, color, and shape. It was certainly an enjoyable hike and we were able to complete it before the afternoon rain started.