Round Trip Distance: 6.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 9343 - 9703 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 15 mins.
Trailhead: Aspen
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike/bike, elk

The Aspen trail is located in the Plateau Division of the Uncompahgre National Forest near Montrose, Colorado. The trail begins off of Divide Road where it makes a loop with one side traveling along the rim of the plateau with occasional views to the south of Mount Wilson ( 14,252 feet) and Lone Cone (12,618 feet). From the rim the trail turns inward and loops back toward the trailhead. Enroute the trail is connected to by 2 short spurs that run out to Divide Road and by the Dry Creek Cutoff trail.

To get to the trailhead begin at the intersection of Townsend and Main in downtown Montrose. Head west on Highway 90 for 21 miles to Divide Road. Turn left onto Divide Road where the trailhead will be on the right hand side of the road after 1.8 miles. There is room to park along the road or you can pull off on the side road and find a place to park there.

The trail starts out following the side road west for a short distance to where it makes a little drop and seemingly comes to an end in a small clearing. At present there aren't any trail markers to show the way but the Aspen trail goes to the left at this point.

After turning left you should see a short double-plank bridge and know that you are on the correct route.

The trail continues around the hill where a large meadow comes into view. On the other side of the meadow the trail splits and begins the loop.

Shortly past the start of the loop, and just under the half mile point, the Little Red trail branches off on the left.

As the trial continues it gets a little bumpy from tree roots but the forest quickly transitions to aspen trees and the trail becomes much smoother.

This part of the trail is about as pleasant as a trail can be. We spotted elk in several places as the trail traveled along the rim of the plateau.

The trial continues paralleling the rim for a couple of miles before it begins looping around toward the north.

The trail crosses a large clearing and comes to another fork around the 3 mile point. The trail marker has arrows that point both ways but to continue following the loop you will want to take the right fork. The left fork meets back up with Divide Road after a little more than a half mile.

From the fork the trail makes a quick climb and before going another half mile it comes to another spur trail that leads out to Divide Road.

The trail continues along an easy track for another mile and a half to where the Dry Creek Cutoff branches off on the left.

From the Dry Creek Cutoff it is only about a quarter mile to where the loop began.

At the end of the loop it is about a third of a mile back to the trailhead on Divide Road. We were on our mountain bikes when we took the photos for this post. If we would have been hiking we probably would have gotten pictures of some elk before we scared them off. As far as mountain biking goes the trail had a good flow to it and if we wouldn't have been stopping for pictures all the time we would have finished a lot quicker. With all of the connecting routes the Aspen trail can be combined with other trails for a much longer outing whether you are hiking, biking or backpacking. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.