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Backpacking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

West Maroon Trail

Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2,920 Feet (910.2 Meters)
High Point: 12,500 Feet (3810 Meters) West Maroon Pass
Length, One-way: 6.5 Miles (10.83 Kilometers)
Pets: Yes - Leash required
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 1970
Usage: Heavy
Vehicle Accessibility: Shuttle Bus, Passenger Vehicle - From mid-June through September, Maroon Creek Road is restricted to vehicles from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m beyond the T- Lazy 7 Ranch. Take the shuttle from Aspen Highlands Ski Area, which leaves every 20 minutes; dogs are allowed on the bus.

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Maroon Bells from West Maroon Creek
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Maroon Bells from West Maroon Creek
This trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area. Hikers, backpackers and horse travelers enjoy the wildflowers and access to the wilderness areas.

The trail starts at the Maroon Lake parking area (9,580 ft). Follow the trail on the North side of the lake through a meadow to a Forest Service informational bulletin board. The right trail is the Maroon-Snowmass trail which climbs through the aspen trees to crater lake (10,076 ft). Take the left fork at the Crater Lake bulletin board. The West Maroon trail follows along Crater Lake on the right side, follows the stream for a short distance, goes through forest and then crosses a rock scree field. The first stream crossing is a little ways past the 3 mile point. The trail ascends on the other side passing through forest and willow before reaching another stream crossing in an open area. This crossing can be tricky during high spring runoffs. The trail on the other side is not always visible before crossing. The trail angles to the right and steadily ascends through willow and then tundra. This area is very open and the pass can be seen in the distance. The trail continues to climb steeply to the switchbacks and a long traverse that goes to the top of West Maroon Pass (12,500 ft). The views are spectacular on a clear day. From the top of the pass the trail descends on the other side to the East Fork Creek Trail and Schofield Park or Frigid Air Pass. It is 6 1/2 miles one-way and the average hiking time is 1-2 days. The trail is considered difficult and receives very heavy use.

West Maroon Creek and Pass are in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, so please educate yourself about Wilderness Ethics and rules.

Directions from Aspen: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left onto Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout. Keep right and continue 9 1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake Parking Area.From mid-June through September, the Maroon Creek Road is closed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and you will need to take a shuttle bus from Ruby Park in Aspen. The bus includes an informative guided tour of the valley. Contact the Roaring Fork Transit Agency at 925-8484 for more information.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: June through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail at high elevations through July. From Mid-June through September, the Maroon Creek Road is closed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and you will need to take a shuttle bus from Ruby Park in Aspen. The bus includes an informative guided tour of the valley. Contact the Roaring Fork Transit Agenc) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche danger and hypothermia. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:39:00.0

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Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly

Filed By: Lisa King (Chesapeake Beach, MD)
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We did this hike over 2 days with our 11-year-old son, who mastered the backpack beautifully. Coming from sea level, we found the elevation challenging, but it was incredibly rewarding. Best place to camp is near treeline. Stream crossings in Spring can be difficult for smaller people, but totally fun if you're careful. Lots of people on the way to Crater Lake, but not too many beyond that.
Conditions: Some snow, some mud, and some swollen streams. Much of the path is rocky, and the sun was brutal. Overall, the path is well-marked and well-maintained.
Water Availability: We had filtration, so water was not a problem for us. Bring more water than you think you'll need, or filtration of some sort. It is a grueling climb in parts, and it can dehydrate you quickly. Streams are plentiful, but contain harmful bacteria, no matter how clean they look.
Recommended Clothing: We wore shorts and synthetic t-shirts. Sun protection is a must. Warm clothing was necessary at night.
Suggested Accessories: We didn't need special gear. The days are nice and long in Spring and Summer, so we only used a candle lantern at night around the camp.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
ICON Hiking & Walking Maroon-Snowmass Trail # 1975 and West Maroon Trail #1970
ICON Horseback Riding Maroon-Snowmass Trail # 1975 and West Maroon Trail #1970
ICON Mountain Climbing Maroon Peak
ICON Viewing Scenery Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells.

Related Activities
Maroon-Snowmass (Willow Lake) - This scenic trail is heavily used. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing and camping are available. The trailhead is 9 1/2 miles up Maroon Creek Road. It's located within Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

West Maroon Portal Trailhead - The West Maroon Portal provides access to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The Maroon Creek and Maroon-Snowmass Trails start from here.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445

Links to other sites:
Forest Conservancy - Current Information from Local Volunteers: Closings and Conditions


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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