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An alternative way to hike from Crested Butte to Maroon Bells through incredible mountains.


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Map Key

17.0

Miles

27.3

KM

Point to Point

11,805' 3,598 m

High

9,016' 2,748 m

Low

2,911' 887 m

Up

2,939' 896 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

18%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Fishing · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Maroon Bells trailhead has limited parking and many restrictions. Make sure to plan ahead.

Overview

This one of a few routes that connects the two mountain towns of Crested Butte and Aspen. It's less crowded and equally spectacular. The trailhead near the town of Gothic on the Crested Butte side is easier to get to than the other options, and you can end up at the Maroon Bells Trailhead where there are shuttle bus options, or a long 10 mile hike down the paved road to Aspen Highlands.

Need to Know

This is a summer route. If hiking in June or even July sometimes, you'll want to check the status of the winter's snow coverage. Contact the Aspen Ranger District and ask.
You'll want to plan shuttles and rides to and from the trailheads. Start at the Aspen Chamber website, Maroon Bells Shuttle website, or Dolly's Mountain Shuttles.
The Maroon Bells bus is not always running, and has a beginning and end to the shuttle season. Check with the Aspen Chamber to learn more.

Description

You'll need to plan the logistics and shuttles well in advance of this hike unless you intend to do 30+ miles on foot from downtown to downtown. A good start to that planning is to visit the Aspen Chamber website, Maroon Bells Shuttle Service, and the Forest Service's Aspen Ranger District office or website.
The route begins near the old mining town of Gothic, at the Copper Lake/Judd Falls trailhead. Check out Judd Falls, soon after you leave the trailhead, which is an impressive little mountain cascade. The route trends northeasterly up Copper Creek, past Copper Lake, and up to the high point of East Maroon Pass.

--Before you arrive at Copper Lake, you'll see a junction (or two) with an option to go right. To follow this recommended route, choose the left option to Copper Lake and East Maroon Pass. The right-turn options would bring you to Triangle or Copper Pass, which are alternative, longer ways to get to the Aspen area. --

From East Maroon Pass, continue northerly into the picturesque alpine valley of East Maroon Creek, for nine miles of gradual downhill. At the bottom of the valley where the East Maroon valley merges with the West Maroon valley, you'll arrive at a trail intersection that gives you the option of going right or left. The left option (recommended route) will bring you to the Maroon Bells Trailhead where the shuttle bus can pick you up if it is running and if you made a reservation.

The right-turn option brings you down valley a little further to the West Maroon Portal Campground. This option can work as well, you just need to get creative with the planning to make sure you have a ride from that trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

Deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, pika, marmots, mosquitos. Mixed forest, riparian creeks, and wildflowers galore.

Shared By:

Andy Sovick

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  5.0 from 1 vote

#2192

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Recommended Route Rankings

#355

in Colorado

#2,192

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Photos

Looking south, over Copper Lake.
Sep 17, 2018 near Crested…, CO
Fall turning the aspens golden on the 401.
Oct 11, 2023 near Crested…, CO
View of the lake as you approach from the trail.
Dec 20, 2017 near Crested…, CO
A dash of red to add spice to the yellow fall colors. Grab your binoculars to look for Mtn Goats high up on the rocks.
Sep 25, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
The meadows give you a chance to enjoy grand vistas.
Sep 25, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Pryamid Peak peaking out from behind the aspen slope.
Sep 25, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO

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