West Maroon Trail: Aspen to Crested Butte

Crested Butte

Walk between two of Colorado's favorite ski towns.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
17 km
Ascent
964 m
Descent
708 m
Duration
4-5 hrs
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
3.8 km
Gradient
17˚
VIEW ON MAP
West Maroon Trail: Aspen to Crested Butte Map

Description

The West Maroon Trail offers a long-distance hike from Aspen to Crested Butte through the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. Hikers can take the trail out and back or can hike one way and arrange to have a shuttle pick them up at the end of the trail. Dogs are welcome to accompany their owners as long as they remain leashed.

For hikers starting in Aspen, the trail begins near Maroon Lake and travels at a moderate but steady incline on to Crater Lake. After Crater Lake, hikers will enter the valley between Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak before then beginning a steep ascent up into Maroon Pass.

Beautiful views abound on this trail. Mountain peaks and lakes along with meadows of wildflowers (summer) make this trail exceptionally scenic. There is also a good possibility of spotting a wide variety of wildlife such as mule deer, marmots, pica, and a variety of birds including hawks.

Though the elevation gain is dispersed over a longer distance, the trail is rated as difficult due to its length, steep sections ascending into Maroon Pass, and high altitude. Many hikers find this trail to be moderately challenging, but factors such as altitude sickness or the need to acclimate may have to be taken into consideration. Depending on the pace and whether hikers take the trail both ways or just one, this hike can take between 8.5-11 hours. Some hikers take advantage of campgrounds near either trailhead to hike one way, camp overnight, and then return the following day.

Make sure to have a map and or review your trail route before beginning. Some hikers have reported that river and creek crossings are easily missed, especially during times where there is still snow on the trail. It is also good to be aware that, depending on weather conditions, creeks and rivers may run higher and hikers not wearing high top boots may get wet at crossings.

This trail is considered to be moderately trafficked though some hikers may find parts of the trail less populated than others. Very busy times include weekends and holidays, and parking lots near the trailheads can fill up early. Hikers who are unable to find parking at the trailhead can park in town and take a shuttle to the trail. Those who take this option and are only planning to hike one-way should consider making arrangements for a shuttle to pick them up at trail’s end to avoid any delays or missed transportation.

This trail is best used between July and September. Due to high elevation, there may still be snow in some areas, especially in Maroon Pass, in spring or late fall. Hikers should always check weather and conditions beforehand and prepare accordingly.

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area