Aspen Highland Trails
Highly skilled skiers flock to resorts around Aspen, Colorado, to take advantage of the high percentage of expert-only trails at the town’s ski resorts. Some of the most challenging are at Aspen Highlands, which boasts more than 50 percent of its trails rated as “difficult,” “expert only” or “extreme.”
The fun doesn’t end when the snow melts. Aspen Highlands is the gateway to wilderness trails within the Maroon Bells Scenic Area just four miles away.
Aspen Highland‘s crown jewel is the Highland Bowl. You need to be in top physical shape to trek a mile uphill along a narrow ridge to the 12,392-foot summit. There’s no room to chicken out from the double-diamond runs as the trail is scarcely more than a foot wide along much of its route.
You can choose from more than a dozen routes, including the most extreme, Flip’s Leap, which has pitches up to 43 degrees. Take the Loge Peak Lift, and transfer on to a snowcat, which deposits you at the base of the trail leading to the summit.
More Expert-Only Trails
More than 50 percent of ski trails in Aspen Highlands are rated as “most difficult” or “expert only.” The steepest pitches range from 38 to 48 degrees, with many runs having an average pitch of 37 degrees.
Trails with a single black diamond account for a mere 16 percent of the trails, with most being found at mid-mountain. The Merry-Go-Round Cafe also is situated in this area, providing a convenient place to grab a snack and rest between runs.
Only 18 percent of Aspen Highland trails are rated with green circles, denoting the easiest terrain. If you are a complete novice, or just want more variety of easy trails, catch a shuttle bus from Aspen Highlands to Buttermilk, which is characterized by wide trails over rolling hills.
The moderate trails at Aspen Highlands make up just under one-third of the trails, and are sprinkled along the mountain’s face at nearly every elevation. These trails are denoted in blue, and contain trips down intriguing routes such as “Memory Lane” and “Broadway.”
Leave your car behind at Aspen Highlands and ride a free shuttle into the Maroon Bells Scenic Area to hike, camp or fish. The shuttle is provided to help heal the ecological damage that emissions from heavy car traffic was causing in the area.
The shuttle runs from mid-June through mid-September on a daily basis, and every weekend through the end of September. You can hook up with trails leading to high-mountain lakes, the Continental Divide Trail, or enjoy a 4-mile hike back to your car along Maroon Creek.