On the trail: A must-see ridge, whatever it’s called | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: A must-see ridge, whatever it’s called

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesMount Daly and the ski slopes of Snowmass gleam Sunday from the vantage point of the climb up onto the ridge on the former Droste property.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – I had the good fortune to visit the open space formerly known as Droste on three occasions, in the company of various Pitkin County officials, before it opened to the general public back in May.

Now that I can go up there any time, I hadn’t been back.

On Sunday, though, I drove up a quiet highway to Snowmass Village, parked at the Rodeo Lot and began hiking the Lowline Trail (look for it off Highline Road, just beyond the roundabout). Soon enough, the newly christened Viewline Trail takes off to the left, climbing through sage and scrub oak onto the Seven Star open space, eventually connecting with the ridge on the property that we’re not supposed to call Droste anymore. (There are five nominated names for the ridge, but I won’t go into that.)

The last time I hiked up Viewline, I was bushwhacking between ribbons affixed to the shrubbery, as trail gurus laid out a route intended to please both equestrians and mountain bikers. It’s now a well-worn trail that looks as though it has been there forever, but it was quiet on a cold, sunny morning, but for the chattering many birds that all appeared extremely busy.

The views atop the ridge are as I remembered: Green valleys gave way to the muted tones of autumn’s slide into winter on the hillsides; snowy peaks jutted up above it all. Now and again, the undulating trail dips into a recessed meadow or groves of trees and one slips off the top of the world, only to regain the vistas around the next bend or over the next rise.

The hike, even ascending the ridge, is pretty easy. The steepest thing I climbed all day was a small knob near a picnic table on the ridge. It’s worth the side trek because from that point, the views are truly a 360-degree affair.

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The most pleasing sight, though, might be the orange poles sticking out above the oak at odd spots. They’re left-over markers denoting the placement of what were to be big houses before a collaboration led to the property’s purchase as open space late last year for $17 million.

The open space is scheduled to close for the winter on Dec. 1 in deference to wildlife. If you haven’t been up to check out the $17 million views yet, do it. They belong to you.

janet@aspentimes.com