Around The Hoop

Spring showers bring summer flowers

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenJuly 21, 2011
A wet spring is paying dividends for the birds and bees this summer.
Columbine flowers

An explosion of wildflowers is under way in Colorado's high country welcoming the winged creatures to feast on nature's nectar.

The bursting array of colors is easy on the eyes for us humans too.

Botanists say all that moisture Aspen and its surrounding environs received this spring, along with the early arrival of monsoon season this summer, is elevating wildflower viewing to above average. Slow-melting snow above tree-line could also set the stage for a second blooming in the coming weeks.

Here are five hikes to help you capitalize on the sights and smells in the mountains around Aspen.

Lost Man: There are about 80 species of subalpine flowers along this easy, six-mile loop toward the top of Independence Pass. The flowers are peaking now and typically last through Labor Day.

Grizzly Lake: This is a moderate-to-strenuous trek through a valley immediately west of the Continental Divide. The hike begins under evergreens before opening up to wide-open skies and meadows. The final destination is the high-alpine lake, with over 100 species of flowers to view while getting there.

Linkins Lake: This is another excellent expedition on your way over Independence Pass. The trail begins with the thunderous sounds of the Roaring Fork River before ascending up a steep path to yet another gorgeous alpine lake in the 83,000-acre Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. The highest point of the hike is 12,008 feet. It is a strenuous but short trek. The total length, roundtrip, is 1.25 miles.

Maroon Lake Scenic Loop: A list of Aspen hikes just wouldn't be complete without the majestic Maroon Bells. Soak in the scenery and stop and smell the flowers on this easy 1.25 figure-eight trail.

Crater Lake: Get an even more intimate view of the Maroon Bells on this moderate 4.5-mile trek, via West Portal. There are over 100 species of wildflowers but fewer people than the Maroon Lake loop.

This blog was first published on Inspirato.

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