The Grottos trail is near Aspen, Colorado and we hiked this short but fun trail during our fall 2020 road trip. We heard about this hike from our waiter the night before. We told him we were looking for a short, easy hike along the way of Independence Pass. He assured us this would be perfect and also he said not many people knew of this place.
The Grottos Trail is located on Independence Pass which is also Highway 82, less than 10 miles east of Aspen, Colorado. Note that this road is closed in the winter.
The Grottos Trail
It is important to note that you need to keep your eyes open for the sign, it is on the right side of the road if you are traveling east and it is easy to miss. The parking lot has ample spaces for a short trail and this was nice. This is an easy loop trail, less than a mile. There are three areas included in this trail, the Erratics, the Grottos and also the Cascades.
The hike follows an old stagecoach road at first. It is a packed dirt trail for the most part and easy. Although the maps showed the Grottos as first, the first landmark we came across was the Erratics. They are two random boulders that are sitting on a whaleback rock. A whaleback rock is a large granite rock that is mostly smooth on top.
Next we found the Grottos which are rocks that look sculpted due to erosion over many years, creating a slot canyon. This area was used by the Ute tribe years ago for protection from the elements and also for storage.
Finally we came to the cascades which are a series of small waterfalls falling from the Roaring Forks River. Although not massive, they are very pretty and accessible.
Steve and I really enjoyed the Grottos Trail in Aspen, another one of Colorado’s hidden gems. It was a perfect short hike as we were tired from hiking for so many days. We liked that there were a couple of places to scramble, although you could hike this without the scramble and still see everything.