Hike Grottos Trail

Grottos Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Jennifer Broome

This is an ultra-family friendly friendly hike just nine miles from Aspen. On the one mile loop, explore ice caves, a waterfall, and forests. Take picnic supplies and fishing gear and plan to spend a little more time on the Roaring Fork River.

Just nine miles east of Aspen on Highway 82, Independence Pass, are grottos. A grotto is a geological term for a cave or cavern. The Grottos near Aspen were formed by rushing water of the Roaring Fork River. There is only an elevation gain of 300 feet on the three-quarters of a mile loop making it an ultra-family friendly hike. Take a picnic and fishing poles to enjoy even more time along the Roaring Fork River.

From the trailhead parking lot, cross the bridge over the Roaring Fork River to hike the Cascade Loop. Just 500 feet from the bridge, you’ll see the Grottos Trail to left. You’re on it for about 5 minutes. At the split you can go right to the waterfall or left for the ice caves.

Hike down over some fairly flat boulder to get to the opening of the ice caves. You’ll have to climb or shimmy down to get into the caves so make sure you have sneakers, hiking shoes, or rugged sandals.

The underground world is a stunningly beautiful world of rock and water. By July, the ice has usually melted, but it is still worth the effort to get into the network of caves and explore them in late summer and fall.

After exploring, go through a rock tunnel to get back to where you climbed down. Then head back out on the rooted trail toward the waterfall.

You’ll quickly see some flat rocks to the left of the trail. Go out on those to see the crevasse you were just in.

A picturesque bridge is worth a stop to watch the stream flow into the caves.

From the bridge, follow the trail by looking for the cairns marking it. You may loose the trail as you venture out on rocks that look like cooled lava or rock waves. That's okay, keep going. As you crest the rocks, you enjoy the beauty of a playground for water as it cascades down in a series of small waterfalls.

You can get close enough to feel the spray as the water rushes over rocks.

Make sure to look downstream and check out the colors in the small pools. You’ll see everything from white to jade in the pools.

Continue following the falls down. There is one spot on the trail where you have to climb down, but it is relatively easy. After you cross another bridge, the water quickly calms down as you follow the loop through tall pines and enjoy the short trek back to the trailhead.

Distance

1 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

300 ft Gain

Type

Loop

Activities

Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Hiking

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Nearby Lodging

Carbondale / Crystal River KOA

Carbondale, Colorado

From $125/night

The Cache

Frisco, Colorado

From $145/night

Tucker Mountain Lodge

Frisco, Colorado

From $184/night

The Mill Club

Frisco, Colorado

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Killer place to check out, and spend the day

This is one of the coolest spots on independence pass. Its such a great spot to spend the day and relax.

Tyler James

almost 3 years ago

Incorrect Location

Haven't seen the grottos because this isn't where they are. But I bet they're great!

Summer, a season not to be missed in Aspen!

"I came for the winter, and stayed for the summer," is a phrase you'll often hear around town.  The weather is one of the highlights. During the day the temperature hovers in the 70's and 80's, and by evening the mercury will drop into the 60's. Arts & culture enthusiasts will be just as fulfilled as the adventure junkie during summer in Aspen.  The events calendar abounds with activities for everyone, from cultural events to athletic pursuits.

Experiencing all Aspen has to offer is as easy as opening the front door. Join us for a summer adventure that’s anything but ordinary.

Advertisement

Tours

More Tours

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike Aspen's Ute Trail

Adventure

Ski to McNamara Hut

Adventure

Ski the Aspen Highland Bowl

Adventure

Explore Aspen's Foliage Along Government Trail

More Nearby Adventures