Aspen Alley Breckenridge is a must-do fall hike and is a personal favorite of ours for when those aspens turn bright yellow. This trail is mostly lightly trafficked, but can be quite busy during leaf-peeping season and on weekends. It’s also a really popular mountain biking trail, so be aware of your surroundings and watch out for mountain bikes coming downhill.
There are two starting point options for the Aspen Alley Trail, so it’s your choice if you prefer to go uphill first or downhill first. This hike is only rated as “moderate” because it is a series of switchbacks that climb the hillside with some uneven terrain. Compared to other moderate and difficult hikes in the area, we would say this is on the easier side. Plus, because it’s out and back, you can turn around at any point, making this hike shorter and easy. This trail is a great option for people who want to see amazing fall color displays without having to work super hard to get there.
Hiking Aspen Alley
Since we prefer starting at the western terminus at the Breckenridge Sawmill Museum, this review will be based on our experience going uphill first. There’s a clearly marked trailhead and from there the incline begins almost right away.
The hike is short and simple, so there’s not much to say about it. You’ll wind your way through endless golden aspens while following switchbacks uphill. There’s a couple of viewpoints where you can peak through the trees to see the mountains across the valley.
You’ll also pass remnants of Dewey Mine, which is obvious with the yellow/red stained rock pile and a massive rusted piece of machinery about halfway through your hike. Continue on the trail until you reach the top of the trail, Boreas Pass Road near the Boreas Pass winter trailhead (see on Google Maps).
If you want to hike downhill first or if you’re shutting a vehicle to pick you up at the bottom, this parking area is where you would begin. Otherwise, this is your turnaround point – change directions and go back the way you came to return to the Sawmill Museum parking area.
We recommend starting at the western terminus of the trail, which is at the Breckenridge Sawmill Museum. Located just a few minutes outside of Breckenridge, this starting point is closer to town. We also choose this starting point because we prefer to start with the uphill portion of the hike first, that way you know when to turn around instead of getting stuck farther downhill than originally planned.
To get there, head east on Boreas Pass Road for about 0.8 miles then take a right directly into the parking area. You’ll see the trailhead clearly marked on a wooden post. This parking area is smaller than where the trail terminates on the other end, so arrive early.
If you would rather start at the eastern terminus, you’ll follow Boreas Pass Road for 3.5 miles. You can cut this short and utilize Illinois Gulch Road or take the long way for better views. You’ll see a larger parking area on the left just a short distance after the road goes from paved road to gravel driveway. Park here and continue south past the gate, down the dirt road on foot until you see the Aspen Alley sign post on the right. This trailhead begins downhill and starts in pine forest. The beautiful aspen grove will start within the first 1/4 mile from the trailhead.
If you have someone who wants to shuttle you, you can start at the eastern terminus, walk downhill 1.3 miles, then get picked up at the western terminus so you don’t have to walk back uphill. This isn’t always feasible, but is a great option if you have a designated driver who doesn’t care about hiking or isn’t able to hike.
Aspen Alley (aka Aspen Tunnel) is easily one of the best easy fall hikes near Breckenridge and is one of our favorites that we do every year. It’s not too difficult, centrally located, has high trail ratings, and offers picture perfect aspens that peak towards the end of September. Timing is everything when it comes to leaf peeping in Breckenridge, but if you time it right, Aspen Alley is a fantastic option.
For some other options, check out Minnie Mine Loop, Acorn Creek, Sapphire Point, or some of the waterfall hikes in the area. Another incredible fall hike is Abyss Lake, but it’s a more difficult trek. You could also do some of the summer activities but check for seasonal closures before going. Once the leaves drop and the snow comes down, check out winter hiking in Breckenridge and other winter activities.