Smuggler Mountain Road Running

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About

Summary

This is not your typical road run, in fact it's a dirt road that climbs up the side of Aspen's Smuggler Mountain. Early in the morning, around lunchtime and in the afternoons you'll find local Aspenites running and hiking up Smuggler Mountain. Located on the outskirts of downtown Aspen, Smuggler Mountain is convenient for a quick run.

Written by

Leah Fielding

Distance

12.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

4.9 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

2-4 hours.

Seasonality

All Seasons

May require ice trekkers in the winter.

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

This is not your typical road run, in fact it's a dirt road that climbs up the side of Aspen's Smuggler Mountain. Early in the morning, around lunchtime and in the afternoons you'll find local Aspenites running and hiking up Smuggler Mountain. Located on the outskirts of downtown Aspen, Smuggler Mountain is convenient for a quick run. 

What Makes It Great

Many runners enjoy Smuggler Mountain for its challenging elevation gain. Those who stop and enjoy the views at the overlook platform by the trail signage can experience 800 feet of elevation in just 1.5 miles. The overlook platform provides spectacular views of downtown Aspen below and the impressive peaks above. Many runners will continue up on Smuggler Mountain Road, which continues for another six miles to Warren Lakes. 

The key to running Smuggler is when you go. If you go midday or afternoon, it can be unbearably hot and pretty crowded. The mountain faces south, so the best time is to go early in the day, between 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Early in the morning you are still in the mountain's shadow and it is nice and cool for the run up. 

Smuggler melts out early due to its relatively low elevation and southern exposure. It's usually clear of snow by May 1, but many people hike and run it year-round, so there is a packed out snow trail throughout the winter. Traction devices, like ice-trekkers or yak traks, are recommended for running Smuggler Mountain Road.

Who is Going to Love It

Beginner and more advanced runners enjoy Smuggler Mountain for its challenging elevation gain.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The trailhead is on the northeast corner of Aspen. When heading North on Park Circle, take a right on the Smuggler Mountain Road (initially paved). Then take your first right onto the dirt road. Parking is just up on your right. If this is full you can park on Park Circle in the parking area across from the beginning of the Smuggler Mountain Road.

To continue to Warren Lakes, go straight (the trail on the left goes to Hunter Creek.) Keep going straight past the next left, here the road becomes rugged and continues to ascend steeply. At the 2.5-mile mark there are some communication disks on the right. The road becomes steeper until about the 3-mile mark, then it levels off until reaching the Forest Service bulletin board at the 6-mile mark. The road continues a short distance further to the gate at Warren Lakes.

Smuggler Mountain Road on Pitkin County land so the law is to leash your dog or have it under voice command. A loose and unpredictable dog can be very dangerous to a mountain biker coming down this road, so please do the safe thing and use a leash. Please clean up after your pet, too. There are pooper-scooper bags at the trailhead to help this situation.

Location

Smuggler Mountain Road Running

Aspen, CO, 81611
39.191702, -106.80821

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