Explore aspen - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
15 hours ago

Definitely recommend continuing the hike beyond Maroon Lake for additional sights. It is a rocky trail with some steeper inclines, and, I will admit, at one point I did get turned around on the trail. The trail is more heavily trafficked once the shuttles start dropping people off at 8:00AM. Even though Crater Lake was dry when I went, the autumn colors were fantastic!

This is a very popular photography interest point. I had researched ahead of time, and new to arrive very early. I arrived at the park at a bit after 6:30AM on a Tuesday morning, and I'm pretty sure I was able to secure one of the last available parking spots. After 8:00AM, it is required that you take a shuttle. The walk to the lake is very easy, mostly paved, and was very crowded at sunrise with photographers, who left shortly thereafter. I went in autumn, so the colors were amazing against the backdrop of the mountains, though it was a dry year, so the lake was a bit dehydrated. I'll give this trail a higher rating only because of the views, but I highly recommend continuing the hike to Crater Lake after.

22 hours ago

amazing view of carbondale

amazing hike :)

Really a perfect little hike to an amazing water feature.

camping
1 day ago

It is difficult getting up there and easy coming back. The Lake is dry currently.

Nice easy hike up to Crater Lake. The lake is dry but amazing colors of the Aspens all the way up.

Easy and nice and scenic. Short and urbanish.

hiking
2 days ago

I did this hike a week ago with my friend and our two dogs, a Lab and a Sheppard. We got started shortly after the sun came upon the Bells, mostly to start the hike before the trail got too crowded (it was a Monday) it was so beautiful with most of the aspens in full color. Our dogs did fine on the terrain and yes, some parts were very rocky but wasn’t an issue for any of us. We got to Crater Lake which we knew was dry, but it was a nice spot to sit for a bit and have some snacks before heading back. We encountered ALOT more people coming up the trail, especially as we were almost at the end. Good move on our part to start early. Would have given 5 stars if the lake wasn’t dry

Great hike but not for older people, people who live at sea level, and anyone who can’t climb over rock on steep hills. Challenging!! Good hiking boots and poles important!! And lots of water.

I am a professional photographer and decided I would go and see what all the hoopla is about with regard to this iconic location. The trailhead and parking is incredibly busy I was surprised at how many photographers were on site trying to photograph the sunrise at Maroon Bells. I've seen so many other awesome sites in this country, honestly, I wasn't impressed with this Trailhead or the scenery other than the beautiful Aspen's on the drive out. If you plan to photograph sunrise at Maroon Bells particularly in the fall, I would recommend that you are at the trailhead no later than 4:30 a.m. We arrived at 5 a.m. and we're on the verge of not being able to find a parking spot. I will say I don't think I'd go again. It just wasn't as spectacular as everybody talks about it being. while we were driving and it was Pitch Black. However the exit provided stunning scenery. I will say that that was worth the effort more so than the photography of the lake.

Great hiking trail just past Kid Curry gravesite if you desire to go further. First seems to go straight up and can be strenuous but after a short while there are small trails off to the sides that go back and forth and are more level if you don't desire going straight up. Hiked for a total of 2.5miles from TH before calling it quits due to half bottle of water

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful! Definitely a heavily trafficked trail. While there was no water in the lake, we knew that ahead of time. The trees are GORGEOUS right now. Moderate is a very accurate description for this trail. We plan to do this trail again after it opens next year!

At 530am, I was stopped by the rangers and told that the overnight parking was full. They directed me to park at Aspen Highlands. On Saturday and Sunday, parking at Aspen Highlands Parking lot is: 0-3 hours $10, 3-8 hours $15, 8+hours $25.

Long line to buy bus tickets to trailhead. Would recommend buying them the night before to skip the ticket line. I did see some call the local taxi because they didn’t want to wait until 7am for the ticket office to open. I called the taxi service and was told they were completely booked until 7am. There is also another line for the buses.

The Aspens are a gorgeous mixture of green, yellow, and orange right now! Crater Lake is completely dry and you can walk around where it would be filled. As soon as the sun comes out, the temp rises. Dress in layers. It was 35 degrees at 5am and warmed up to 72 degrees by 10am.

I hiked with my husky. It’s rocky, but not harsh enough for little dog booties for a medium or large dog. After reading a few reviews mentioning the harsh terrain, I got booties for my dog. I took them off her after 0.5 mile. Not necessary unless you have a small dog. Most small dogs were carried.

hiking
4 days ago

Colors were great.

Good short trail, easy for young kids.

hiking
5 days ago

What a pleasant surprise. This trail begins as a rocky road with mtn bikers. It wasn't terribly exciting and the fall colors were limited. Then at the junction, the aspens improved. Many people were confused by the number of lakes, first lake on right is more like a large pond, then second lake on right is nice by the best views are at the third lake where no one went!! We had it to ourselves except for the SALAMANDERS. So Cool! Pics and details here: https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/09/20/road-trip-to-the-rockies-a-weekend-in-aspen/

hiking
5 days ago

I hate this hike. It’s all up hill, on lose rocks, FULL OF PEOPLE, you have to pay $8 just to get there, and the lake is more like a dried up small bog. Next!

Gorgeous day today. This trail is as amazing but it is extremely rocky. The leaves could not have been more splendid. Highly recommend this hike.

Wonderful hike mostly shaded by the aspens. This is a perfect time to capture the colors of fall! Rocky the last quarter. Crater Lake is dry, but the location offers a spectacular view of the Maroon Bells and the glorious, brilliant aspens.

Easy and short hike that doesn’t have a lot of traffic in the morning, but may start to get busier after 12pm. There are many great spots to take very scenic pictures, especially during the fall when the aspens change.
To get there, we parked in the parking lot at the base which costs $35 a day (originally $25 but was charge an extra $10 on the way out), and took the shuttle to the trail, approximately 20 minute ride, which runs every 20 minutes and costs $8 per person for the day. A different shuttle will also take you into town for free.

hiking
6 days ago

uphill climb, but rewarding

hiking
6 days ago

Hard hike but well worth the time. You leave the trail head and are constantly climbing to the destination. Make sure you have plenty of time for this hike it’s not one to do quickly. Someone that gets into a hurry could be easily injured.

hiking
6 days ago

Nice views of maroon bells. It is a steady up, and trail is rocky pretty much the whole way, but beautiful fall colors against the ‘maroon’ colored mountains. It does have a lot of people traffic

hiking
7 days ago

PSA: the trail is closed September 17th - 22nd and October 15th - 17th for routine maintenance.

I did not get a chance to hike the trail but I’ve heard nothing but good things!

hiking
8 days ago

First Colorado hiking trail, excellent choice. Steady incline with beautiful bubbling creek sounds alongside trail. Lots of large stone & creek photo ops. Plenty of shaded & sunny sections.

Beautiful views of the Maroon Bells.

The trail is (very) narrow (in some parts), the distance hiked is 6300 feet one way. With an elevation gain of 1000 feet, it puts the average grade (incline) at 16%. Due to the volume of people (500 an hour, on the trail) You'll be pulling over a lot to give others the right of way, or they'll be doing the same.

This hike consists of a trail, with a creek rushing down the mountainside. 7 Small bridges will help you zigzag your way to the top, and although the distance is short (1.2 miles) to the top, the grade makes the hike a challenge. With large rock steps, loose dirt and pebbles. It should take about an hour or two to the top, and your descent will be twice as fast. Take time to enjoy the scenery, it's not a race. Don't kid yourself, take enough water as the natural water isn't pure, bacteria thrives in it.

Many people take an extended break at the top. The water is crystal clear, but not safe to drink. The waterfall hitting Hanging Lake makes this a National Landmark and a great place to zone out. Loved it, please don't damage it with graffiti or trash.

The trail to the top is worth it, though it’s pretty short and soooo crowd. There is a few steep climbs along the way. I would go as early as possible and certainly not on the weekend. In may 2019, hikers will need a permit $ to hike this trail and moreover, they’ll have to take a shuttle to get to the trailhead.

Awesome trail. Rated moderate but still a good steady climb. Great scenes, lots of running water. At about 7,000, my wife and I took a quick break a few feet apart from one another...I was up trail when I heard a rustling in the brush on the upslope side and then thumping on the trail - turned to my right and saw a black bear cub, golden brown with a darker brown ruff around his neck...we saw each other at the same moment. The "little" critter did an about face and retraced his steps back from where he/she came...there were ar least two more, probably mom and a sibling judging from the sounds we heard. My wife never saw the bear - the whole incident occurred over maybe 3-4 seconds... We made some noise, carried on up trail without further incident. My only regret is not getting a once in a lifetime photo op...
This occurred last Monday, September 10. Lots of berries along the trail. Overall I'd rate this hiking trail a 10.

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