Throughout much of the U.S., spring ushers in summer with a spectacular show of blooms. From May to mid-July, fields and meadows burst into technicolor carpets of vivid purple lupine spires, fire-red Indian paintbrush and star-shaped blue columbine. Some of Exclusive Resorts’ most popular U.S. residences in destinations such as California, Colorado and Utah, put Members steps from trails that showcase each region’s distinctive wildflowers. Here are five of our favorite hikes to time to wildflower season.
Aspen to Crested Butte, Colorado
By car, Aspen and Crested Butte are 100 miles apart. But on foot, the two idyllic mountain towns are approximately 11 miles from one another. Many argue this moderate day hike doubles as one of the top wildflower displays in Colorado. The more popular West Maroon Pass route is slightly shorter and begins at the iconic Maroon Bells in Aspen Highlands, passing picturesque Crater Lake. East Maroon Pass tends to be less trafficked and less steep. The trailhead at East Maroon Portal passes aspen and flower-filled valleys and sparkling Copper Lake.
Winnemucca Lake, Lake Tahoe, California
The rich volcanic soil around Winnemucca Lake creates a dense blanket of Sierra Nevada blooms each spring and summer. The moderate, five-mile out-and-back hike is a favorite among both visitors and South Tahoe locals so head out early, especially on weekends, to avoid the crowds. The trailhead, located near Kit Carson Pass, winds upward through rocky meadows strewn with mule’s ears, buttercups and lupines. Cool off your feet in the lake before turning back for the return trip.
Tony Grove Lake, Utah
From Deer Valley, it’s worth making the day trip to Tony Grove Lake. With its high elevation, just above 8,000 feet, this recreation area in Logan Canyon is home to some of Northern Utah’s most sensational bloom viewing, even into early August. A mellow 1.2-mile trail nature trail loops the lake and takes in pretty, lush meadows. For a challenge that delivers stunning views, tackle the Naomi Peak trail. This 3.2-mile climb ascends nearly 2,000 feet from the start of the trailhead but you’ll be rewarded with swaths of glacier lilies, wild geraniums, daisies and Indian paintbrushes as far as the eye can see.
Shrine Ridge, Vail, Colorado
Named for its sweeping view of Mount of the Holy Cross, Shrine Ridge is an easily accessed, relatively short trail that promises picturesque vistas and a wide variety of rainbow-hued wildflowers. The ridge summit is just over a two-mile hike from the parking area at Shrine Pass. From the trailhead, the route meanders through pine forest and rock outcroppings. Dozens of varietals including fireweed, mariposa lilies, alpine forget-me-nots, Parry’s primrose and old man of the mountain line the trail. When you reach the top of Shrine Mountain at nearly 12,000 feet, you’ll have 360-degree mountain views.
Rabbit Ears Peak, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Wildflowers in the Yampa Valley typically peak in early to mid-July with higher elevations covered in the brightest blooms. The 5.4-mile, round-trip hike to 10,654-foot Rabbit Ears Peak is known for its abundance of blue-and-white columbine, Colorado’s state flower. Most of the trail climbs gently until the last quarter mile, which involves a rock scramble to reach the peak. The namesake rabbit ears have eroded, but that doesn’t deter from the summit views.