A few weeks ago we took a leisurely afternoon hike on the Nature Trail that starts at the top of Ajax, or Aspen, Mountain. This was an out and back hike that was super easy with barely any elevation gain because you do all of your climbing as you ride the gondola to the top of the mountain!
If you want to head straight for the hike, veer left as you get off the gondola and you’ll have no trouble finding the trail. If you’re heading up with kiddos, veer to the right and there are plenty of fun activities to let them burn off the energy before/after riding the gondola. Our little guy was just interested in the huge sand pit and trucks, but there are also spaces to dig for gold, go rock climbing, go trampoline jumping, and room for some good old running.
As well as delivering beautiful mountain views, the trail dips into the pine forest, giving you a reprieve from the bright alpine sun.
This was our third hike and I was excited to see yet more wildflowers in bloom. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a guide with me, and had trouble identifying some new-to-me species from the photos. If you have any clues as to the names of the unidentified flowers below, I would really appreciate it!
We hiked out to the point where there was a perfectly clear view of the Aspen Highlands ski resort. At this point you can also see the very top of one of the two Maroon Bells peaks. We spent some time sitting here, letting little A out of the pack to tool around and throw some rocks, while C and I talked to other hikers. It seemed to be a common stopping/turning point for many people.
- During the summer months, the gondola’s open daily from 10:00am-4:00pm. A single ticket costs $19.00, but if you’re staying for a few days, or planning to take the bus up to Maroon Bells, they have a great package for $29.00.
- Of course, you’re welcome to skip the gondola and turn this into a more rigorous, multi-hour hike by starting your walk from the bottom of the mountain. This is something that you can do any time of day in the summer, but only before the gondola opens during ski season.
- This is probably obvious, but take sunscreen and a hat! You’ll be more comfortable because the sun is bright and there are plenty of areas without tree cover.