The Grottos

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: +- 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 9473 - 9540 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: +- 45 mins.
Trailhead: The Grottos Day Use Area
Fee: none
Attractions: Waterfalls, ice caves, picnic area




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The Grottos trail is located just off of Highway 82, the Independence Pass Road, about 9 miles east of Aspen, Colorado in the White River National Forest. There are several different trails in the area that lead to cascading waterfalls, picnic areas, and an ice cave. An old stagecoach road that can be hiked up to Lincoln Creek also passes through the same location. Care should be taken during spring runoff and heavy thunderstorms while exploring any of the caves. The Grottos is a day use only area but nearby campgrounds include the Lincoln-Gulch Campground and the Weller Campground.


To get to the trailhead drive through Aspen, Colorado on Highway 82, zero your odometer at Mill Street, and measure 9.3 miles to the Grottos Day Use Area. You will pass the Weller Campground just under a mile from you destination. There are 2 sections of the roadway on Independence Pass that are so narrow that they don't bother painting a center line through them. The trailhead is located just before the second narrow section of road.


For this post we started by taking the bridge over the Roaring Fork River. There is also a trail just before the bridge that leads to several picnic and fishing spots.


A fork in the trail comes up after hiking a short distance on the other side of the river. The right fork is the Old Stage Road and the left fork leads to the Grottos and cascades.


As you hike along there are several side trails that connect with the main trail. One of the side trails leads to the Ice Caves.


At the time of this post it was the first week of September and all of the ice had melted over the course of the warmer summer months.


In this photo you can see how the forces of the water flowing down the steep valley have carved out a slot canyon. This area as well as the ice caves would be death traps during spring runoff and after heavy thunderstorms.


The waters of the Roaring Fork plunge down the mountain over a series of cascading waterfalls.


At the base of the falls the river flattens out becoming more peaceful as it flows in a tranquil fashion until it encounters its next plunge.


Picnic tables invite visitors to linger and enjoy their time in the forest.


The National Forest Service was established to care for the land and serve the people. Through their diligent stewardship they have created numerous campgrounds, day use areas, and established thousands of miles of trails for everything from hiking and horseback riding to hunting and fishing access, mountain biking, and off road vehicle use. The Grottos is one of those many areas that visitors are sure to enjoy. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.