Fall Color Hike: Kenosha Pass North

Distance6.76 mi
Elevation Gain1086 feet
My Time2 hr 54 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest Town Grant
Food Nearby Shaggy Sheep

A perfect, but crowded, place to see the changing fall colors. The hike is moderate and has expansive views of the valley and mountains.

How to Start

One of the biggest challenges of this hike is to find a place to park! During the leaf peeping season this is a very popular spot and cars park for about a mile in either direction of the trailhead.

Once you find a place to start you will have to decide on which trail you would like to take. I did the North section which is the side with the campground.

The North Section

At the beginning of the trail is a large swath of Aspen trees and there were many people who just stayed in this section and took pictures of the yellow leaves.

Some tall aspen trees with golden yellow leaves at the top.

As you continue down the path the aspens are replaced for the most part with pine trees although there are a few colored leaves spread out through this section. There are also several round lodge shelters that have been built that the kids that were around seemed to really enjoy. This wooded section will last for just over a mile before the trail opens up a bit.

The Reveal

After you leave the first section of the heavier woods you will find yourself in another section of Aspen Trees. This is where you will first start to see the valley below you as well.

When you first clear the heavey woods you have views of the valley below, mountains in the distance, and aspen trees in the foreground.

For the next mile and a half you will be alternating between woods and clearings and will start descending down the hill a bit as well. The final section of this will be a larger section of woods that has a switchback and gets a little rockier.

The Hill

The best part of the hike in my opinion is this last hill. When you come out of the woods you will have unobstructed views of the valley below with all the different colors within. It takes a mile to get to the bottom of the hill from here. Several people took up spots on the hill itself to relax and have a bit of a snack.

The view from the final hill with some wide open spaces.  Yellow Leafed Aspen Trees are in the foreground and dot the hills in the midground.  The background is tall snow capped mountains.

A couple things to note here is that the trail gets really narrow for this whole section and when I went it was really crowded with bikes and hikers and I was constantly having to step off the trail to let people pass. The second thing to keep in mind is that if you are not continuing on the Colorado Trail, your journey will end around the bottom of the hill. That means that you have to go back up the hill to get to the car.

The hill isn’t that tough of a climb but does get over 20% grades in some sections so something to keep in mind. At the bottom there is a spot that you can continue the Colorado Trail. If you head that way there are also a couple of trees down that served as benches for several people who stopped there for a picnic.

Distance and Elevation

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 6.76 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1086 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 10,398 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 54 minutes.

Effort

Most of the trail is a gradual uphill slope on the way out and then you walk down a hill. The return trip up the hill is the most challenging part but the elevation gain isn’t too bad. Here is the step count from today’s hike from my Fitbit.

Step count from my fitbit today was 17,071 steps.

Terrain

The terrain for this hike is split half between a dirt forest floor with a lot of tree roots for the first half of the trail. As you get onto the hill with the main views the trail narrows. Most groups will have to walk single file on the hill portion. The trail gets a little rockier on the hill as well. There are also a bunch of trail runners and bikes on this relatively narrow trail. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes or trail runners.

Access

Kenosha Pass is on 285 between Grant and Fairplay in Park County, Colorado. There are a couple of pull-offs by the trailhead that fit maybe 50 cars. On this weekend fall morning with the leaves changing, cars were parked on the side of the road for about a mile in either direction and down the access road towards the south trail. There are no restroom facilities although on the North trail there is a restroom in the campground about 100 yards down the trail that is technically not for the hikers but I saw many head that way.

Wrap up

Nothing like a hike with 3000 of your closest friends. At least that is what it felt like on a Fall weekend morning. Kenosha Pass is part of the Colorado trail and is usually pretty busy and for good reason. The north section is a beautiful area especially in the fall with all the Aspen leaves changing.

The first half of the hike is a pretty standard walk through the woods but when the trail opens up to the valley below the views are truly breathtaking. Several people and pups took a spot on the large grassy hill and just sat and enjoyed the view.

The only downside for this hike for me was that I spent a lot of time on the side of the trail letting bikes, runners, other hikers and even horses pass me. The trail gets single file narrow for a large portion and with as busy as it can get it can get pretty crowded.

Overall I really enjoyed it especially with all the colors changing. There was a bit of a smokey haze in the air that kept from having that great crisp fall look to it but the variation of colors in the large open area’s was worth the hike.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map section you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or other comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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