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Starting at the Divide Road trailhead, take Rim Trail South 1.3 miles up to a platform with views of Snowmass, Mt. Daly, Capital Peak, and Ziegler Reservoir (our local mammoth depository). The viewing platform at the top bears the ancient Yin/Yang symbol in its center, leading locals to casually talk about going “up to the Yin Yang.” The view from the top makes an excellent photo of the Village drenched in gold.
The Vista Trail starts in Base Village, travels upward through aspen groves and wide open meadows until you reach the top of the Elk Camp Gondola. Here, you can stop in for a quick bite or a drink and take a scenic ride back down. If you want to add some more adventure, the Vista Trail connects to several other popular trails. Check out HikeSnowmass.com to plan your route.
Hit the high country on a hike to Cathedral Lake in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. It’s a three-hour hike for fast hikers and up to five for amblers, but there’s no reason to hike fast when the scenery is so amazing with flakes of gold falling all around you. You’ll start among the towering aspens, and top out at a blue-green mountain lake surrounded by incredible peaks. Go early, bring plenty of water and snacks, and a camera. Start in good shape, and you’ll finish in good spirits.
Snowmass Lake isn’t an easy hike but is a worthy overnighter for those who come prepared (dress warm!). The lake is one of the largest in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass wilderness, and there are several great camping spots right beside the lake. At 17 miles round-trip — especially under the overnight gear you’ll be toting — it’s a serious hiking achievement, and one worthy of a polar plunge in the lake when you arrive.