Colorado Trail, Colorado
Camp Hale to Kokomo Pass; 11.5 miles, out and back
The Rocky Mountains are never better than in fall, when their foothills light up with aspen trees turning red and gold — and there's no better place to see them than on the Camp Hale trail, a half-hour south of Vail. "Mid to late September is the best time for aspens in Colorado," says Liz Thomas, of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. "The leaves shimmer like glitter in the breeze." The trail begins at Upper Camp Hale trailhead and tops out on Kokomo Pass, at 12,023 feet. The reward is impossibly sheer views of the jagged Gore Range.
Après Hike: Bring your swimsuit: About 45 minutes south of the trailhead is one of Colorado's best hot springs, Mt. Princeton, with 105-degree water burbling through the cool waters of Chalk Creek.