This is easily one of my favorite hikes of the year, both because it satisfies the ‘well-rounded adventure’ requirement and because of the amazing variety of terrain. It’s in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is accessed via 4th of July Road. Passing through the town of Eldora and riding up the 4th of July road is cool enough, and if you have a stout 4×4 you can mercifully knock a mile or so off of the 15 mile total. Depending on the weather, this may also prevent you from having to walk an appreciable distance through a giant puddle. Either way, you add a short but mildly technical off-road jaunt to your otherwise human-powered day. As icing on the cake, the final stretch deters most motorists, leaving the limited parking at the end of the road a pretty good bet.
There, I’ve said it: snowliage. That’s precisely what it was, and why we were there. We saw some pretty ripe leaves, some frosted peaks, and some blue skies and generally spent some quality time in the mountains getting stoked for the snow season! Eye candy was produced in abundance.