The 7 Best Places to See Fall Colors in Summit County

Are you hoping to catch Keystone fall colors on your vacation? Here's the scoop on seven great places in Summit County to enjoy the changing leaves.

Posted Sept 30, 2023


Two moose walk around the changing fall leaves near Keystone, CO.

The fall colors in Summit County, Colorado never fail to impress. Surrounded by gorgeous aspens, the area sports a dazzling display of yellows, oranges, and reds in the fall. Visitors who are eager to see the changing leaves have no shortage of options from hiking to biking to going for a scenic drive. Put one of these seven places on your to-do list during your next Keystone vacation.  

Catch Summit County Fall Colors on a Bike 

One of the best ways to peep the changing aspens in the Keystone area is to head out by bike. The Summit County Recreational Pathway System boasts 55 miles of paved combined-use paths to explore. If you didn't bring a bike with you, you can rent one at a local shop. This bike trail offers plenty of flexibility — whether you want to cruise around for half an hour or head out for a 50-mile ride, you can do it here.  

There are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way and snap photos of the changing leaves. Seeing the fall foliage by bike is a great way to get acquainted with the layout of the local area too. Stop in Keystone or another city connected to the trail to eat and shop.  

Try Out the Keystone Gulch Trail 

The Keystone Gulch Trail is a challenging 15.5-mile out-and-back route that's ideal for hiking enthusiasts who want to see fall colors far from civilization. Of course, you don't need to hike the whole route to enjoy foliage views and photo opportunities. You can hike in for as little as one mile and still see plenty of colorful aspens. The trailhead is about 10 minutes from the resort along Keystone Gulch Road. 

For an easier route, you can take the Keystone Aqueduct Trail, which connects to Keystone Gulch Road, instead. To get there, you'll walk about 0.2 miles up Keystone Gulch Road until you see a Beaver Pond. Take the trail to the right, and you'll find a bridge that crosses the stream. Then, continue along the exposed water pipe. 

Enjoy the Keystone, Colorado Fall via Boat  

One of the most enjoyable ways to see the fall colors in Summit County is by heading out on the water at Dillon Reservoir. Just remember that it's colder on the water than it is along the shoreline, especially on breezy days. Wear layers or bring blankets to stay warm while you're on the reservoir. This is the ideal spot to visit if you want to take shots of the changing colors from the water.  

You can rent a boat for 2, 3, or 4 hours at the Dillon Marina. If you prefer to kayak, you'll find rentals at the Frisco Bay Marina. Keep in mind that these marinas usually shut down for the season toward the end of September. If you want to see the fall colors from the water later in October, you'll need your own boat.  

Take in the Beauty of Ptarmigan Trail Fall Colors 

A favorite among locals, the Ptarmigan Trail offers scenic views of Keystone and Dillon Reservoir. This moderately challenging, 4.6-mile out-and-back trail boasts a little over 1,100 ft. of elevation gain. It might take some effort to hike, but you'll enjoy unrivaled views once you reach the top of the trail. 

The trailhead is located about 30 minutes from Keystone along US-6 W near the city of Silverthorne. 

Head Out on the Boreas Pass  

Some of the best fall foliage in Summit County, Colorado, is located along the Boreas Pass just south of Breckenridge. To get there, take Keystone Gulch Rd. to US-6 W. Travel along US-6 until you reach CO-9 S. This will take you down to Breckenridge and out to Boreas Pass Road. Be aware that sections of Boreas Pass are backcountry dirt roads. Monitor weather conditions carefully before heading out on this drive.  

If you don't want to do the off-road sections of Boreas Pass Road, you can stop in Breckenridge to eat, shop, and enjoy the foliage instead. There are still plenty of changing aspens to enjoy along the drive.  

Peep Keystone Fall Colors on the Old Dillon Reservoir Trail  

Located about 25 minutes from Keystone, this trail travels along a portion of the reservoir. You can enjoy vistas of the Tenmile Range and changing aspens from the ridge at the top of the trail. The main trail is an easy 0.8-mile hike that ends in a bench, but you'll notice several other trails listed on the information board at the trailhead. All of these hikes offer the opportunity to see colorful aspens while enjoying the beauty of Summit County.  

To reach the trailhead, you'll travel about 30 minutes along US-6 W. It's always important to bring water and snacks while hiking. However, you'll also find beverage and food options at the marinas in Frisco Bay and Dillon during the summer and early fall.  

Make the Leisurely Drive to Montezuma 

Located just minutes from Keystone, the historic town of Montezuma has only a few year-round residents. The short drive to Montezuma offers some stunning views of aspen stands and plenty of opportunities to pull off the road for photos. You'll also find an array of short hiking trails in the area if you'd like to explore by foot. Regarded as somewhat of a ghost town, you won't find shops and restaurants here. Bring snacks and drinks from Keystone Resort's Lakeside Deli to enjoy on the drive.  

You might notice that several off-road trails take off from Montezuma and lead to other ghost towns in the area. You can tackle one of these if you're adventurous and you're outfitted with the correct vehicle. Otherwise, stay on paved roads for the best experience.  

Embrace the Fall Colors at Keystone Resort 

With so many colorful trails and drives, you have no shortage of options for seeing the fall foliage in Summit Count, and Keystone Resort is your perfect base camp. You can make the most of the area's natural beauty by staying for a few days to enjoy the changing colors and cozy atmosphere. Why not start planning your next adventure today?