Leaf peepers hit the trails as cooler temps bring turning trees

Local News

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Leaves are starting to change in Colorado, so trails and parks will start seeing more traffic from people coming out to enjoy the view. 

“We saw a lot of beautiful leaves and color,” Karen Buse, who hiked to see fall leaves Saturday said. 

Buse and her daughter Shauna said they decided to go hiking in Golden Gate Canyon State Park after seeing advertising from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to go and check out the turning trees. 

“I have a goal to visit all the state parks,” Shauna said. 

The mother and daughter duo said they hiked up about 30 minutes on a small quiet trail. They said the further up they went the more colors they saw. Karen described the colors as yellows, pinks and reds. 

“We saw a couple of nice patches,” Shauna said. 

The first official day of fall is Sept. 22, just a few days away. But Denver experienced record-high heat at 93 degrees Saturday, so fall colors may take a bit longer to see in the metro area and foothills.

When you do head to see the spectrum, here are tips from CPW on responsible “leaf peeping”:

Know Before You Go 
– Spend some time planning your trip and avoid any potential disappointment. Think about the following questions and do some research before heading out to Colorado’s parks and trails.

  • Are the colors at their prime? 
  • Where is the best spot for your abilities and available timeframes for viewing? 
  • Will you need a daily vehicle pass or permit?
  • If the parking area is full, move on to the next designated parking area. 
  • Ensure you’ve downloaded the Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app to find a great Plan B if you need one!

Maroon Bells in Fall: See full photo gallery 

  • Stick To Trails – While it’s tempting to find a new and unique spot to photograph, or to move to areas with a few less people, it’s important for our plants, trails and visitors that you stay the trail.
    • Help natural areas stay natural by sticking to designated trails. 
    • Respect trails closed for maintenance, vegetation projects or wildlife reasons. We all love our flora and fauna, so keep them healthy for your family’s future hikes!
    • Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts – that extra time in nature is what you are there to enjoy. 
  • Trash Your Trash – If you’ll be spending time wandering through Colorado’s colors, you’re likely to need a drink, a snack or to tend to your pet’s needs. Don’t bring anything with you that you can’t pack out.
    • Peeping for color doesn’t include wrappers or bottles along the trail. Put litter, dog waste, and even crumbs, peels and cores in the nearest waste/recycling bin – or pack it out until you can find one.
    • Bring an extra bag or two to help leave the area better than you found it. 
  • Leave It As You Find It – In this busy season, it’s especially important to only park in designated areas – undesignated parking destroys vegetation and encourages those coming up behind you to continue the trend. With over 40,000 miles of trails in Colorado, you can be sure to find the right spot by planning ahead.
    • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others can experience the same joy of discovery.
    • Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them, and also impacts the experiences of your fellow hikers and leaf peepers for years to come!
  • Keep Wildlife Wild – While you may be hoping to spot the perfect cascade of yellow aspens, part of your experience may include seeing wildlife in their homes. Enjoy the moment by keeping your distance, using your zoom and letting our wildlife be wild!
    • Never feed wild animals – from the smallest chipmunk to the largest bear, feeding them human food alters natural behaviors and can make them sick or dependent.
    • Harassing wild animals may also increase the chance of a poor interaction including charges or attacks, feeding wildlife may expose animals to predators, and either case may even lead to euthanasia.
  • Share Our Trails and Parks – Please be courteous and patient when on your journey! This is one of the busiest times of the year on our trails, so please be patient with other visitors and the staff working to help everyone have a great experience outdoors. 
    • You’re out to mine gold, not to people watch, so try out some new or lesser-known paths and sites found on the COTREX app.
    • Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum and good etiquette is always in season.
    • Remember to bring face coverings and hand sanitizer, and try to move to single file or take your time to leave 6’ of space between hikers if possible. 

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