Loveland Ski Area plane crash
Two people were killed in a plane crash at Loveland Ski Area on Monday, June 30, 2014. (Lindsay Watts, 7NEWS)

Three people were killed when a small plane that took off from the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport north of Denver crashed near Loveland Ski Area on Monday morning.

The plane, a single-engine Piper, was headed for Moab, Utah, a representative of the National Transportation Safety Board said, according to 7News.

The crash was reported just before 9 a.m. by a hiker and sparked a small wildfire on the ski area's slopes, the Summit Daily News reported. Authorities have not identified the three victims.

Rico Argentati of Centennial told The Denver Post that he was hiking in the area when he saw the plane heading west approaching the Continental Divide.

The plane was traveling "at a pretty good rate of speed" and very low, Argentati said. Standing at almost 12,000 feet, he said, he saw the aircraft turn back east, dip down and disappear into the trees.

Other witnesses saw the plane flying toward the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel when it appeared to lose power and attempt to turn back east before crashing, the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office told 7News.

"This is a really sad thing to watch," Argentati said. "I knew what was going to happen. You could just tell."

The plane went down at Loveland Valley, a beginner ski area separate from the main resort with an independent base area.

Two investigators from the safety board were dispatched to the crash site.

Investigators said it was too early to determine any identifying information for the plane. The aircraft's tail number was destroyed in the crash, officials said.