Saturday, Brian, Liz, Aidan, Liz’s youngest sister, and I all drove about 2 hours to check a huge Colorado bucket list item off our list.
See the Autumn aspen trees.
We absolutely LOVE the “city” feel of Denver, and we love the fact that we can hop in the car on a Saturday morning and within 20 minutes it almost feels like we are on vacation because the scenery drastically changes to beautiful mountains.
After asking around, Liz and Aidan found a hike in Vail, CO around Piney River Lake that was supposed to be absolutely breathtaking as it was right among the aspen trees. The easy/moderate 6 mile loop sounded like a perfect way to spend our Saturday morning.
We drove about 2 hours and arrived in the adorable, little town of Vail, CO and made a coffee and leg stretching pit-stop.
Seriously, I don’t think Vail could have been more perfect! Every building was beautiful, it was nestled right in the mountains so it had a cozy feel, and it SMELLED amazing. I know, that kind of sounds weird but to me it smelled exactly how fall should smell–crisp, slightly cinnamony, fresh…amazing!
We stopped at a cute, little local coffee shop called Loaded Joe’s for a pre-hike pick-me-up.
Once we were caffeinated and our legs were stretched, we popped back in the car and basically drove for another 40 minutes along a dirt road to get to the Piney River Ranch which is where the trail started. Piney River Ranch is cute little ranch with camping, horse back riding, hiking, and they also host weddings, reunions, or any other get-together you want to have. I can only imagine how busy that little ranch is…the views are amazing!
When we arrived, I hopped out of the car to ask the super kind women at the Ranch if we were in the right location. Thankfully they said yes because THIS was the view we would have had to leave behind had we been in the wrong location.
Do you see all the golden trees? Those are the aspen trees!
Now, it may sound a little goofy to go hiking so we could see fall foliage when we came from a city with tons of beautiful fall trees, but these are different! All the trees are aspens, so they all turn the same golden color around the same time. In Indiana, the trees are all different colors and change at various times throughout the season, so this was something very unlike what we have at home.
While we hiked we were on the lookout for moose! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any but we did see some wildlife… (not sure what we saw though!)
The hike was on a relatively flat trail with just a couple of spots that had a little incline. The beginning portion was outside of the apsen trees in what seemed to be a huge open meadow.
For the majority of the hike we were immersed inside the aspen forest. It was so cool 🙂
There were a couple of little creeks that we climbed over on a log bridge. In this area, the scenery completely changed to a much more green and “piney” environment. I guess that’s why they call it “Piney” lake!!
I love this photo because I captured Liz’s excitement at the beauty of the hike…I mean don’ you just want to throw your arms up when checking out this view!?
Once we arrived at the water, Aidan and Brian did some scoping for the perfect “chill” spot.
We actually ended up moving over closer to a little waterfall where we enjoyed some snacks and relaxation before the 3 mile hike back to the ranch.
We arrived at the trail head around 9am and there were very few cars. It felt almost as if we were the only people on the trail. As we hiked back to the car we ran into a TON of people and the parking lot was packed full of cars. It was crazy how much busier it got! We were glad that we hit the trail early to miss the huge crowds of people.
We loved this hike as it was a great distance, it was relatively easy but not like a walk down the sidewalk, and the views were amazing. We are so lucky to be within driving distance of such wonderful places!!