Hiking Project Logo

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

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key





Out and Back

11,592' 3,533 m


9,481' 2,890 m


2,295' 699 m


2,293' 699 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

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

The Capitol Ditch Trail (#1963) is within the Maroon Bell-Snowmass Wilderness, Wilderness restrictions apply. Dogs must be leashed.

If staying overnight at Capitol Lake, advance reservation overnight permits are required and must be purchased in advance at recreation.gov. Approved bear food storage containers are also required and strictly enforced.


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. If staying overnight at Capitol Lake, advance reservation overnight permits are required and must be purchased in advance at recreation.gov. 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.


Shared By:

Kevin Hadfield

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 8 votes


  4.5 from 8 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Recommended Route Rankings


in Colorado


4 Views Last Month
6,393 Since Feb 2, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Looking south up Capitol Creek valley towards Capitol Peak.
Oct 24, 2017 near Snowmas…, CO
Capitol Creek intersecting Capitol Ditch (Upper) Trail as it meets with Capitol Creek Trail. Must walk through this icy creek to pass.
Jul 27, 2019 near Snowmas…, CO
Storm clouds rolling in from the west over Capitol Peak.
Feb 2, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Crossing the meadows of Capitol Ditch Trail
Jul 27, 2019 near Snowmas…, CO



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Mar 15, 2022
Private User
Sep 21, 2019
Private User
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

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started