Hiking Project Logo

Capitol Creek

 4.2 (5)
Zoom in to see details
Map Key


12.5 Miles 20.2 Kilometers

2,295' 699 m


-2,293' -699 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (19°)

11,592' 3,533 m


9,481' 2,890 m


Shared By Kevin Hadfield



Getting forecast...

A pleasant singletrack through the alpine with incredible views of Capitol Peak.

Kevin Hadfield

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Capitol Ditch Trail is within the Maroon Bell-Snowmass Wilderness, Wilderness restrictions apply. Dogs must be leashed. Camping is prohibited within 200 feet of Capitol lake.


This is a classic out-and-back highlighted by views of the majestic 14,115' Capitol Peak. It utilizes both the Capitol Ditch Trail (#1963) and the Capitol Creek Trail (#1961).


From the Capitol Creek parking lot there are 2 trailheads with trails that eventually merge into one trail ~3 miles into the National Forest. Even from the trailhead parking, the view of Capitol Peak is stunning. The mountain sits atop the Capitol Creek drainage. With it's craggy sides and long access trail, Capitol Peak has a reputation as being one of the hardest summits to achieve amongst Colorado's 14,000+' peaks.

Follow the Capitol Ditch Trail (#1963) which is one of the access points to climb Capitol peak and therefore sees considerable traffic, particularly on nice weekends in the Summer. This trail is also quite popular with horseback riders.

The trail initially contours along a high point looking down ~600' onto Capitol Creek on the left. After about 1 mile you cross the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness boundary. There are a couple of open meadows punctuated by increasingly dramatic views of Capitol Peak and back toward the Roaring Fork Valley before you reach your crossing point of Capitol Creek.

Choose your own adventure for this crossing (expect higher water with spring runoff) and join the Capitol Creek Trail (#1961) on the other side. The trail continues through the forest and through a gate (close the gate after yourself) for about 2 more miles before a small creek crossing over a log bridge. The last mile or so is a steady ascent up to the meadows beneath Capitol and Mt. Daly and finally to Capitol Lake. There are tent camping sites designated in the fir trees up on the hill to your north, right while hiking in toward the lake.

There are many other hikes and a couple of peaks that can be enjoyed from this point. You can also reverse course and enjoy a classic ~13 mile hike. Have a ton of fun!

Flora & Fauna

In the summer (usually late July - early September), wildflowers are abundant. You'll likely see cattle and perhaps mountain goats near Capitol lake. Deer, elk and moose also can be found in the area.


You & This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Your Check-Ins


Jul 28, 2018
Jeremy Petti
Sep 11, 2017
Joe Kempf
Excellent trail with great views through the valley. Camp site 6 has the best view, on the highest hill in the valley, looking out over Capitol Lake. 12.6mi
Jun 25, 2017
Lauren Steele
super snowy. really challenging terrain and snowfields the last 2 miles 15mi

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 5 votes


  4.2 from 5 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Colorado


37 Views Last Month
3,887 Since Feb 2, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking