Grace Houser | Clarion

One thing that most DU students have in common is a love for the great outdoors. One of the absolute best times of year in Denver is autumn, with fallen leaves decorating the sidewalks, Thanksgiving right around the corner and the anticipation for ski season building like an epidemic.

If you don’t have the time to drive four hours to Maroon Bells in Aspen, but you feel like going further than Wash Park for some views of the yellow, amber and red foliage, there are a ton of hikes and outdoor adventures nearby that are perfect to see the beauty of Colorado in the fall.

It’s a little far but well worth the journey: DU is just an hour and a half from Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the country to see the autumn colors. The drive itself will offer major views of leaves, and once you’ve arrived at the park, there are countless hikes to embark on, whether you’re looking for something  challenging, short or in between. For example, the Bear Lake Trail is a stunning 4.4 mile hike that showcases all of the beautiful colors of Colorado.

If you haven’t been to Boulder, now is the time. Less than an hour from DU, Boulder is a very outdoorsy town, so there are plenty of hikes that are inviting to all skill levels. After a day of hiking, take to the streets of downtown Boulder, where cute shops, amazing food, street performers and beautiful views are abundant.

A quick 30 minutes from campus is the High Line Canal near Highlands Ranch, which is a perfect path for biking or walking. From early October to mid November, this trail is surrounded with colorful autumn leaves, which reflect perfectly off the water in the canal. The High Line Canal also happens to be right next to Chatfield State Park, which is a beautiful area with a lake and trails that can be accessed with a day pass for $8. Inside the park, group camping, picnics, marina rentals, horseback riding and hot air balloon rides are offered.

Alderfer/Three Sisters Park near Evergreen, Colo. is less than 45 minutes from DU. This is an area with a bunch of trails, a lake and gorgeous mountain views.

Whether you’re a native Coloradan or come from a faraway place, Denver and the surrounding mountains are great places to fully experience fall. There are tons of parks, trails and towns that provide beautiful views of the autumn scenery. Before it’s too late, make sure you get out there and experience the trees and the season in its entirety.