Hunter Valley Trail, Hunter Creek Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Hunter Valley Trail - 8.9 miles
Hunter Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.9 miles (roundtrip distance to last cabin remains)|
|Start-End Elevation:||7,905' - 8,972' (8,972' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,067' net elevation gain (+1,357' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Hunter Valley Trail - 8.9 Miles Round-Trip
The Hunter Creek Trail joins the Hunter Valley Trail to form an 8.9 mile out-and-back route east of downtown Aspen. The hike features scenic bridges over Hunter Creek and expansive, aspen-ringed meadows with alpine backdrops in the Maroon Bells and Hunter-Frying Pan wilderness areas.
The Hunter Creek Trail climbs steeply along the creek to a big meadow at 10th Mountain Bridge, where the Hunter Valley Trail continues east up the north side of Hunter Creek until fading out shortly past the last cabin remains.
The Hunter Creek trail system sees heavy use, especially on summer weekends. Honor yield protocols and posted leash laws.
There are several access points and potential routes for reaching Hunter Valley Trail - the following description begins on Lone Pine Road in downtown Aspen:
From Lone Pine Road, follow signs behind the residential area to boardwalks along the creek and consecutive bridge crossings (.3 and .47 miles). Note diverse vegetation in this riparian corridor, including large cottonwoods ain the creek channel.
Grades steepen past the Lani White Trail split (.5 miles : 8,050') to a 3rd bridge (.65 miles) and Benedict Bridge - Red Mountain BLM Trailhead spur (.95 miles : 8,370').
Cross Benedict Bridge back to the south side, where steep travel continues past the Verena Mallory Trail split (1.15 miles : 8,525') and over a service road (1.4 miles) to a Backcountry Board + Map on the edge of a large meadow (1.6 miles : 8,655').
The valley opens and levels past the Hunter Creek Cutoff Trail (1.7 miles : 8,665') to the 10th Mountain Bridge and first sign for the Hunter Valley Trail (1.85 miles : 8,695').
Here you may cross the bridge or continue straight to another at 2.6 miles (8,790') - both lead to the north side of Hunter Creek and continue on as the Hunter Valley Trail. The routes are virtually equidistant; the following description keeps straight to the 2.6 mile bridge.
The 2.6 mile bridge crosses Hunter Creek and a series of scenic pools ideal for fishing. The meadow expands considerably in a park-like setting with the Elk Mountain's distinct red-hues framing the west, and high peaks in the Hunter-Frying Pan to the east.
Travel levels on near-perfect singletrack through the meadow to a rise at 3.5 miles (8,880'), which drops you back into a similar but smaller meadow. The trail moves quickly to the far end, where the valley rapidly tapers in thicker timber to the last cabin remains on the left (4.45 miles : 8,972').
It continues past the cabin and is intuitively followed along Hunter Creek, but soon loses clarity and is absorbed by heavy brush.
- N39 11.731 W106 48.969 — 0.0 miles : Hunter Creek Trailhead
- N39 11.887 W106 48.739 — .3 miles : Cross first bridge
- N39 11.958 W106 48.631 — .47 miles : Cross bridge
- N39 11.956 W106 48.606 — .5 miles : Hunter Creek - Lani White Trail split
- N39 12.070 W106 48.562 — .65 miles : Cross bridge
- N39 12.247 W106 48.498 — .95 miles : Cross Benedict Bridge @ Red Mountain BLM spur
- N39 12.248 W106 48.296 — 1.15 miles : Hunter Creek - Verena Mallory Trail split
- N39 12.273 W106 48.043 — 1.4 miles : Cross service road
- N39 12.303 W106 47.882 — 1.6 miles : Enter meadow @ 10th Mountain Bridge
- N39 12.344 W106 47.806 — 1.7 miles : Hunter Creek Cutoff Trail split
- N39 12.397 W106 47.657 — 1.85 miles : 10th Mountain Bridge
- N39 12.498 W106 47.305 — 2.2 miles : Level travel through meadow
- N39 12.527 W106 46.916 — 2.6 miles : Cross bridge to north side of meadow
- N39 12.658 W106 46.528 — 3.0 miles : Level travel through broad meadow
- N39 12.624 W106 46.028 — 3.5 miles : Rise out of meadow, drop into next one
- N39 12.644 W106 45.499 — 4.0 miles : Level travel through meadow
- N39 12.513 W106 45.007 — 4.45 miles : Last cabin remains
- N39 12.373 W106 44.579 — 5.0 miles : Trail fades and valley tapers
- The Hunter Valley Trail is variously referred to as North Hunter Creek Trail, depending on map source. Popular maps that cover the Aspen - Independence Pass area illustrate the Hunter Creek Trail system, but often lack granularity for the area's many interconnecting and sometimes interchangeably named trails.
- Boardwalks, bridges and boulders along Hunter Creek can be very slippery, especially after rain and snow melt.
- Note sharp ecological contrasts between north and south facing slopes in Hunter Creek Valley. South faces are comprised of sage, oak and aspen, while cooler and wetter north faces are dominated by conifers.
- Dog leash rules are strictly enforced.
- Watch for bears, especially at dawn and dusk.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Camping is not permitted along the Hunter Creek - Hunter Valley Trail. Camping is permitted in the Hunter - Frying Pan Wilderness to the east, accessible from the Hunter Creek Trail.
- Fishing is permitted in Hunter Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times on the Hunter Creek - Hunter Valley Trail network unless otherwise specified.
- Parking restrictions are strictly enforced on Lone Pine Road. Do not use residential spaces.
Directions to Trailhead
Hunter Creek Trailhead - Lone Pine Road in downtown Aspen ('lower access')
From Main Street, head north on Mill Street and bear left onto Red Mountain Road at .3 miles, then a quick right onto Lone Pine Road. Street parking is available where indicated. Do not park in designated residential areas that are clearly marked.
Hunter Creek Trailhead - Hunter Creek Road above downtown Aspen ('upper access')
From Main Street, head north on Mill Street and bear left onto Red Mountain Road at .3 miles. Follow Red Mountain Road 1.1 miles to Hunter Creek Road and turn right. Take Hunter Creek Road .3 miles to a blue sign for Hunter Creek parking, just before the stone pillars. Follow signs into the designated lot.
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails
530 East Main Street, 3rd Floor
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670