Aspen Ridge

Johnson Village, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 06/03/2021
4.5 / 5 ( 12 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Permit Information: Permit Required - Click Here
Length: 13 miles
Highest Elevation: 10269 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: South
Nearest Town: Johnson Village
Nearest Town w/ Services: Johnson Village
Official Road Name: 185
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Aspen Ridge
Aspen Ridge features open ranges, dense forests, and wide views. As the name implies, the 10,000ft elevation ridge is covered in Aspen trees. The Forest Service Road is generally a graded dirt road that travels in a north-south track. The road crosses broad meadows providing expansive views of the Collegiate Peaks. Despite rougher conditions at elevation, the entire road is easily navigable by a stock 4WD vehicle. Aspen Ridge is popular among ATV and motorcycle riders, mountain bikers, and equestrians who enjoy the wide open spaces. There's dispersed camping available along all segments of the road, and nearby towns of Nathrop, Johnson Village, Buena Vista, and Salida offer commercial campgrounds, motel lodging, and outdoor supplies.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Aspen Ridge

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Aspen Ridge Trailhead (0 mi)
Turn right onto FS Road 185 from Bassam Park Road (FS Road 187). The intersection is extremely well marked.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.773380, -105.968240

Starting Point: Fairplay

From Fairplay, take U.S. Highway 285 south and turn left on Chaffee County Road (CR) 307. Travel one mile and then turn left on FS Road 187, Bassam Park Road. Follow Bassam Park Road approximately six miles to the intersection for Aspen Ridge on the right. From Salida, as an alternative, Aspen Ridge Road can be traveled south-to-north. From U.S. Highway 50, turn north on "F" Street and drive slowly through the historic downtown area. Turn left on "West 1st" Street for just under one mile and watch for County Road 175 on the right (it is across from the new medical center). Follow CR 175 for about nine miles to the intersection of FS Road 185. There is a brown USFS sign that indicates Aspen Ridge/Turret Road. Note on Permit Requirement: Effective July 1, 2020, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife added a requirement for access to State Wildlife Areas (SWA) and State Trust Lands (STL). One must possess a current/valid Colorado hunting OR fishing license to access SWA and STL properties. Since Forest Road 185/Aspen Ridge traverses the STL (Waypoints 11-12) this rule applies.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

Aspen Ridge is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 which requires the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, some roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation proceeds over the next 5 years. It is imperative that the OHV community voices their interests on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local Ranger District offices and let them know why the area is important to you.

Trail Reviews (19)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran from north to south. First part is nice and smooth, then comes the part through the trees and it gets a bit bumpy, some places you may need to choose your line wisely, Finally comes the gravel section leading down to Salida. This will make a great fall trip when the aspens have turned, and we intend to return for that.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Beautiful and scenic trail! Definitely coming back here in the fall. The section that goes through the forest is a bit bumpy but nothing difficult, the rest is quite smooth.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is all dry and in good shape. Property owners and Forest Service have been out building fences and closing off some heavy used camping areas that where well off the trail and most likely on private land. Probably also worth advising that you don't make the turn at waypoint 5 down 185b to Elk Mountain Ranch. The Ranch doesn't not appear friendly as they have Arm'd people placed at the entrance. If you mistakenly turn down this road. There is a little bit of a turn around before you get to the gate.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran from north to south, camping near the admin trail on the ridge section. Cold and windy but great views across the valley. Trail is thawed with only a small bit of snow and mud up high. Stay the trail - lots of trail widening spots.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove Aspen Ridge from south to north in order to access the Castles area south of Hwy 24/285. The road is in good condition, relatively. Nice to see "Stay the Trail" stickers on the route markers. The golden aspen leaves have all dropped to the ground, but it is still beautiful to see.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
No real challenges to speak of. Bumpy in spots, road is dusty, but not bad. Beautiful views of the 14ers to the west. Ran from the North to South. Good views, seemingly good dispersed camping.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun and easy trail. Great for short drive through the Aspen groves or if you are looking for some scenic and easily accessible camping spots.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove it in my 3/4 ton suburban with no problems. Wonder view.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Peak color happening this week! Drove Aspen Ridge today (Sunday, 9-29) with a group from 14erFest. The area is dry and dusty but the road is in good condition. The foliage colors are vivid! Get out there and enjoy soon!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I drove this trail to see the fall display of aspen gold. Perfect timing on the color change. Stunning views, best I have ever seen in 24 years. Trail was very dry and dusty due to high winds. Still had a great time and highly recommend this trail for aspen viewing. As a bonus we saw a herd of mountain goats crossing right in front of us.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open, dry, and all around a great trail. I ran this first with my ZR2 and then on my dual sport. Camping at waypoint 10 is highly recommended. Amazing views.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Started from Salida and traveled up to Little Cottonwood Creek. Road was dry and in good condition.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun, easy trip that would be great during fall colors. Most could do this in 2wd, but I did use some low range in my stock truck just for the lower gearing and the need for less braking. It was a great day as part of the Buena Vista 14erfest.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I drove Aspen Ridge with a group from 14erFest (a big street party that brings trail user groups together and promotes cooperation among them--see 14erFest.org for details). We stopped at Waypoint 10 for lunch and pictures. Trail conditions are clear and dry. The Autumn colors were probably beyond peak--I estimate that peak week occurred this year in early September. It was fun, nonetheless.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Jeep Grand Cherokee from BV to Salida. Hit it just in time to see the Aspens turning. Absolutely gorgeous... a true spiritual experience especially at the top. Could view a couple Collegiate Peaks but I mostly sat in the open and just absorbed the beauty of the Aspens (and some pines) all around me for awhile. Most serene I'd been in years! It's probably similarly peaceful anytime but try to hit it when the yellows and oranges are glistening if you can!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I might be the odd duck on this site but I attempted this trail in a '17 Subaru Crosstrek @ stock ride height. Had one decent undercarriage scrape, otherwise was doable with the right line choices. Dry and in good shape, will definitely test your nerves in a crossover/suv.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove Aspen Ridge from Salida, South to north. Road is dry and in good shape. This is a good road for beginners to get some experience with no risk of damage. Aspen Ridge has great views of the Collegiate Peaks, and is a connector to several fun 4x4 roads in the area.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I drove Aspen Ridge on Sunday, October 1st with a group from 14erFest in Buena Vista. Some areas were brilliant foliage, and other were past prime. Our group had a great time from start to finish.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I had a guest in from Maine who knows his leaves during the fall season, so I figured a trail named "Aspen Ridge" would be a good spot to go view the Colorado foliage. I was probably a week earlier for peak but the trail did not disappoint.

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: How many trails are available during the end of April? I'd hate to drive all the way out there and have no trails to enjoy.
–Daniel Sawvell (04/14/2021)
–Tracy Barker (04/15/2021)
–Tracy Barker (04/15/2021)
Q: Tracy, ever done this in January? I'm hoping to do it in a couple weeks, but didn't know if that might be overly ambitious.
–Neal A. Tew (01/01/2021)
–Tracy Barker (01/05/2021)
–Ryan Boudreau (01/04/2021)
Q: Listed as being open year around but peaks at over 10k in elevation. Whats the scoop? Doesnt seem likely in Colorado.
–Tyler Snider (04/08/2019)
–Tracy Barker (04/09/2019)
Q: I heard that the Four Mile Area and Aspen Ridge near Buena Vista, Colorado has been closed to camping. Is this true?
–Judy (06/05/2017)
–Neal A. Tew (10/03/2018)
–Larry (06/23/2017)
–Tracy Barker (06/05/2017)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. His family moved to central Utah when Tracy was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah, where he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. He started many years ago in his dad's F-150 pickup truck, and subsequently his own 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991).
For individual use only, not to be shared.