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Aspen to Crested Butte via West Maroon Pass

Difficult
 4.5 (4) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Hike from downtown Aspen to Crested Butte by the Maroon Bells.


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Map Key

34.4

Miles

55.4

KM

Point to Point

12,351' 3,765 m

High

7,903' 2,409 m

Low

5,221' 1,592 m

Up

3,756' 1,145 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

49%

Max Grade (26°)

Dogs Unknown

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

Overview

This is an encredible hike that takes you past Maroon Lake, the Maroon Bells, over West Maroon Pass, down the wildflower-filled trail to Schofield Pass, through Granite Colorado, and finally to Crested Butte. This is a great multi-day hike option with a return via East Maroon Pass, Triangle Pass / Conundrum Creek Trail #1981, or the Grand Traverse Run course. The Maroon Bells are said to be the most photographed place in Colorado, and this route takes you right past them. Also, the views from West Maroon Pass are gorgeous. The wildflower fields will take your breath away.

Need to Know

This route requires special care due to the distance and high elevation. Remember to bring the correct gear like a solid rain jacket, water purifier, map, and warm clothing. If you are planning to leave a car in Aspen, the best place to park is the parking deck called the Rio Grande Parking Plaza at 427 Rio Grande Place.

Description

Due to the afternoon heat and potential thunderstorms, it's best to start this hike before the sun comes up. Since the first 10 miles are on the road, be sure to wear a bit of reflective gear, but if road hiking isn't your thing, you can take a taxi, shuttle, or ride share and skip the first 10 miles.

The route turns to trails at Maroon Lake. If you time it right ,you can snap a picture of the mountains illuminated by the sun light reflected in the lake. After Maroon Lake, the route takes you up to Crater Lake and the base of North Maroon Peak via the West Maroon Trail.

Above Crater Lake there is treatable water (around 13.5 miles) as you make your way to West Maroon Pass. West Maroon Pass is part of the famous Four Pass Loop, so soak up the beauty and plan your next adventure as you climb to 12,500 feet.

As you continue down from West Maroon Pass, the route will eventually (18 miles) fork to the left and go down the valley. There is treatable water along this portion of the trail. The West Maroon Trail terminates in a parking lot (21.5 miles) and this is a good place to top off your water.

From here, the route takes the dirt road to the left and heads to the old mining town of Gothic. Stop for pictures and to top of your water at Emerald Lake (23 miles). There are livestock grazing along the route after this point so it is best to refill your water at Emerald Lake. In Gothic (28 miles), there is a visitors center that sells cold drinks, has bathrooms, and plenty of interesting information about Gothic. Gothic is a former mining town that is now home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

After Gothic the route continues down the dirt road to Crested Butte ski area. You can stop here for the night or continue to the town of Crested Butte. There are plenty of lodging and dining options in both places.

For the return to Aspen, you can go back the same way or pick one of the other routes such as East Maroon Pass, Triangle Pass / Conundrum Creek Trail #1981, or the Grand Traverse course. All of the routes mentioned will not leave you disappointed. There are also shuttle services that will drive passengers back to Aspen.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, moose, raptors, song birds, pikas, and marmots.

History & Background

Old mining town, mines, and log cabins.

Contacts

Shared By:

Doug Bachman

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes

#5

in Aspen

#2310

Overall
  4.5 from 4 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#5

in Aspen

#323

in Colorado

#2,310

Overall
80 Views Last Month
4,504 Since Sep 17, 2018
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Photos

One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells
Sep 27, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Moose
Feb 9, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Maroon Bells
Apr 1, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Looking up the West Maroon Valley on a crisp fall afternoon.
Oct 24, 2016 near Snowmas…, CO
Starting the Four Pass journey. Dawn light on North Maroon Peak. Photo: Michelle Smith
Aug 31, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Taking a break on the way to Snowmass Lake on the Maroon Bells 4-Pass Loop.
Aug 13, 2016 near Snowmas…, CO

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Check-Ins

Sep 20, 2020
Ry Zy
Sep 6, 2020
Gretchen Walker
CB-Aspen-CB with Courtney, Andrea, Nicole
Jul 7, 2020
Zac Johnson
Sep 2, 2018
Nicki Bartak
Jul 25, 2017
Jenn Targett
34.4mi