Locals may call it off-season, but during the months of May and October, Aspen running trails are empty, and room rates are affordable. This combination makes off-season in Aspen one of our favorite times of the year to visit.
What it’s like running in Aspen, CO
Aspen Ski Company makes up four resorts in the Roaring Fork Valley; Aspen Mountain (Ajax Mountain), Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. These resorts are all connected by miles of running trails in the summer months and cross-country ski trails in the winter.
The Rio Grande Trail is the premier Aspen running trail that goes for over 42 miles from Downtown Aspen to Glenwood Springs. The Rio Grande trail is the perfect warm-up for when you arrive and are adjusting to the 8,000′ elevation. Once acclimated, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of trails that you can take off of the Rio Grande trail. Be sure to check out The 5 Best Beginner Trail Runs in Aspen guide as well, which highlights some of our other favorites.
Aspen Trail Runs off Independence Pass
If the trails around downtown Aspen were not enough for you, take a drive up Independence Pass to discover more hiking and running trails. Note that Independence Pass may be closed in May due to snow or avalanche danger.
We found trail running bliss while exploring some of the trails off of Independence Pass this last season. Running through forests on tacky, chocolate brown dirt that magically opens up to a pristine lake is something that trail runners dream of. In Aspen, this is just another Tuesday.
Stein Park Trail
While in Aspen, it is easy to get caught up in the amazing restaurant scene. And while a meal at Steak House No. 316 is one of the greatest of all time, there are many other ways to experience dining in Aspen. One of our favorites is a lake side picnic at Stein Park after a fun 4.8 mile out-and-back run.
The Stein Park Trail is right in town and has outlets to the Rio Grande Trail making it easy to extend the length of your run. The quiet park is a hidden gem within the town. It is the perfect spot to enjoy a sandwich from JUS (see below).
Hunter Creek Trail
One of our personal favorites is the Hunter Creek Trail. This trail is perfect for a quick afternoon jog or a full day marathon adventure. The endless routes that come from Hunter Creek Trail make this a “must run” when in Aspen. The easiest trailhead to find is just a half mile in on the Rio Grande Trail, starting at Clarks Market.
Best post-run restaurants in Aspen
After a long run in Aspen, there are only two places that I want to go eat at; JUS Aspen or Spring Cafe Aspen. These are also our top two featured spots in The Best Healthy Food Options in Aspen. The affordable price, good service, and healthy meal are why we practically live between these restaurants while in Aspen.
Getting to Aspen, CO
Landing at Aspen Airport (ASE) is a crapshoot. The small airport is ranked as one of the most difficult runways for pilots to land on. Commercial airlines can only fly one type of airplane to ASE because of its difficult location and short runway. Once you are at the airport, the bus is the best way to get to town. When you are in town, there is no need for a car.