Loop from Crystal Springs to Upper Blowhard to Potato Hollow
Though the aspens above 9,000 feet had mostly lost their leaves we were hoping to find some colors on the section of the Upper Blowhard Trail just east of the Crystal Springs Trailhead despite it being at just about that elevation. This loop is beautiful however even without yellow aspens as it provides views into Cedar Canyon and then directly up to Cedar Breaks before returning to the meadows at Crystal Springs. Thus, it was a no-lose situation.
We actually began the hike with a little sidetrip to some other meadows; I spotted blazing golden aspen leaves enroute to the trailhead and parked just off the access road in order to check them out. From there we walked the quarter mile to Crystal Springs then began the ascent along the Upper Blowhard Trail. Here we happily found many aspens on the trail still bright with yellow leaves as well as some golden splashes on the hillsides across the canyon. At a mile and a half we reached the first junction and turned off on the Potato Hollow Trail which parallels the rim over the canyon of Cedar Breaks. There were a few clusters of yellow and light green in the hollows below but the forest here is predominently the dark green of fir trees, above which are the colorful bands of limestone that make up the Claron Formation of Cedar Breaks. After a couple miles the trail begins descending through meadows but we chose to stay along the rim where the best views of the white sandstone and granite formations can be had. We then headed straight down to rejoin the trail just before the junction with the Crystal Springs Trail. Once we turned off here, we ascended another 500 feet through the ponderosa and then strolled through the flat meadows around the springs.