Maroon Bells in the fall, there's a reason this area gets so many visitors. Seeing the Aspen change color in Aspen, CO should be on everyone's bucket list. Trailhead parking was closed so we jumped on the Aspen shuttle bus with our dog. Maroon Lake was a madhouse with visitors, lots of tourists. A quick hike through the woods and then you're at Crater Lake, which will be considerably less crowded and will take you a lot closer to the Bells.
Planned on doing the 4 Loop Pass but due to Moose activity we had to change to this trail at the last minute. New plans were to hike West Snowmass Trail to the Snowmass Lake / Buckskin turnoff and come over Buckskin pass and out Maroon Lake where we parked our vehicle. After 2 days of hiking, we were encourage to turn back by a couple older/experienced hikers because the trail was still closed due to the moose and we would likely be forced to turn around by rangers and not allowed to exit at Maroon Lake where our vehicle was waiting. The decision was hard but seemed like the only option. This was our very first hiking voyage in our lifetime and we are 50yrs old. Decided not to make any big mistakes and turned back on the same trail we came in on.
The rain was horrible every afternoon. We were forced into our tents by 6pm every night and layed on the hard-cold ground for 12hrs. We should have taken a large tarp to put over our campsite.
Additionally, our packs were 50+ lbs each. I will easily cut that back to 30lbs on my next hike.
The trail was beautiful but I didn't expect the first 3 miles to be going through gates and walking in cow poop. The poop was thick in places and it got all over my hiking poles and lower pant legs.
The brush overgrowth in areas was 10-12 ft tall and after the evening rain, it would get you soaked as you walked through it the next morning.
Overall..... a beautiful area for my first hike. Definately more difficult than I ever expected but worth it.
Looking forward to going back. Less pack weight and earlier in the season to avoid moose and the heavy rain period. More experience will be helpful as well.
Popularly rated as one of the most spectacular hikes in America, this circuit is perfect for backpacking. A friend and I attempted to do this as a 2 day (1 night) backpacker, but due to inclement weather got pushed to a 2 night (slightly over 48 hr) finish. Thunderstorms at 12000+ ft are not to be trifled with. Picture perfect from start to finish, this loop features ever wildly changing scenery to keep even hikers with the shortest of attention spans interested.
As others have commented....this trail is rocky but totally worth it !! My GPS clocked in at 3.7 Miles and 614ft of altitude gain so YMMV. Bring water!! The trail is well marked and well traveled. If you get there before sunrise, you can drive your car to the trail head without much issue.
We did this trail in late October 2016, it was 16 miles out and back according to my phone. There is a moderate incline over a long span which makes the hike more bearable. The last 2 miles are very uphill but the view is worth it. We were the only ones in the hot spring on a Sunday afternoon which was lovely. We hiked back down in the same day and made it to the car before the sun went down.
Great trail...only difficult part was finding a parking spot (Oct 23?- shuttle not running). Rocky trail with altitude gain so plan accordingly...appropriate hiking shoes (yes, don't wear high heels, flip flops or Berkenstock clogs) and bring water. Lots of dogs on the trail, too.