Explore Colorado 2018 - 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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Great hike, the falls are gorgeous, not much room for viewing but it was fun.

hiking
20 hours 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.

Best to hike when the aspens are in full color! Breathtaking!! Only downside is one half of the loop was fairly heavily traveled by 4WD vehicles.

Beautiful trail in the fall, even if you just go to Independence Lake.

Challenging trail over the passes, but the amazing scenery makes it well worth the effort!

Completed the loop in 3 days/2 nights Sep 4-6, hiking counter-clockwise. Camped at Snowmass Lake the 1st night (~9 miles) and just above the large waterfall in Fravert Basin the 2nd night (~7.5 miles). Total distance logged on my gps watch was 29.4 miles, so that left about 13 miles on the last day over Frigid Air & West Maroon Passes. A storm on day 2 forced us to hike over Trail Rider Pass in snow/sleet, which made the trail muddy and extremely slippery. A good set of hiking/trekking poles is highly recommended!

hiking
1 day ago

Lovely views of the river and cascades- lots of picturesque scenes. Not a long or challenging hike- you’d mostly be going for the views!

hiking
2 days ago

Colors were great.

hiking
2 days ago

My new favorite fall hike! Challenging but not too difficult. Stunning with the aspens and the lake.

Steep, but pretty fall colors and lovely lake! Pics and more details here: https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/09/20/road-trip-to-the-rockies-a-weekend-in-aspen/

hiking
2 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.

Absolutely amazing! My 1st solo hike - 26 pound pack to start. Went counter clockwise August 24-26 to make option to hike out 3rd day easier. Reflection of Snowmass lake in morning sun is breathtaking, do not miss! Found refreshing swimming hole and small falls about mile above big waterfall on 2nd day. Ended up hiking 14 miles 3rd day and exiting...love my new altra trail runners, no blisters and with lighter pack, was very doable and enjoyable. View after view will keep ya going. Would love to hike this again!!! Trail is well marked, met friendly trail runners and many helpful hikers and a resourceful ranger each day. Combine these with Alltrails app for navigation and a Spot devise for emergency rescue and you are good to go, safer than being in a city!

hiking
4 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

trail running
4 days ago

No better time of year than now. Stunning scenery with aspens turning and perfect weather.

Wow, literally breathtaking all the way around! The views were above all expectations. The trail says it’s 29 miles, however my gps tracked it at 31.2 miles. There is a major drought issue here in aspen so I kept about 3 liters of water at all times. Make sure to do the same if you find water take advantage! I didn’t see any bear however I did see tons of chipmunks, marmots, mule deer, mountain goat, and sheep. Such a brutal trail, however it was so worth it! No pain no gain! The entire loop took 4 days 3 nights and I did it counterclockwise. The first night I arrived late and only got about 2 miles in, then it was starting to get dark so you gotta set up camp just before sunset because the wind is a beast! Couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. The highs were in the upper 80’s, lows around the upper 40’s low 50’s. I would absolutely do this hike again, maybe try doing it clockwise next time.

Beautiful views of the Maroon Bells.

Lovely hike up. Weather perfect. Lake dry but colours in full swing

hiking
9 days ago

Loved this hike. Started at Lost Msbn TH and walked up to what might be described as the head of the valley about halfway before turning back. Pity this 'loop' trail doesn't end back at he same spot. A real walkers hike rather than a climb at least for the part I did. Super views and open all the way. Saw one person on the way back in the afternoon, a hunter looking for deer. Hope he didn't find any.

on The Grottos Trail

hiking
10 days ago

It’s fine. Not a hike. A great spot to stop, have some lunch, and dip your toes in the refreshing mountain water. Very poorly marked trails, so you just kinda wander around.

on Crater Lake Trail

hiking
10 days ago

Great views of the aspens and scree throughout this short and sweet hike. The lake at the end is very dry, but it’s a fun new view of the Bells. Given that this is the only hike greater than a mile but less than 20 miles at the Bells, it’s worth doing.

We did not hike the entire trail, but look forward to that in the future. We did a day hike to the log jam out and back which measured 15 miles on our GPS. The trail was beautiful and the valley is gorgeous. This would be the clockwise direction. The trail was pretty easy going most of the way. At the beginning you pass through some private property which is clearly marked, but there are cows present and occasionally on the trail. They were not a problem. Thoroughly enjoyed the hike and look forward to backpacking the entire loop next time. I did fish the creek and had a blast!

Beautiful colors throughout the hike up and back. We had a warm sunny day, Crater lake is a little dried up but the views with the Aspen color changes were worth the hike up.

hiking
13 days ago

There's a trailhead sign, but it's difficult to see from the HWY as it's behind some trees/branches. The easiest way to find the trailhead is just to look at where the lake's outlet stream crosses the HWY on a map (let google maps guide you, but best to download an offline map before hand). Plenty of parking across the street in dirt turn offs.

The way up isn't bad, the steeper parts are often followed by moderate sections and I didn't have to stop too many times to catch my breath. The trail is fairly rocky, so you'll have to keep your eyes on the road. Nice tree cover the whole way. Made it the upper lake in about 70 minutes and back down in about 45 minutes.

The trail to the upper lake isn't obvious; I just headed to the opposite side of the first lake and hiked straight up the hill behind the dispersed site on the other side. Once you get to the top of that hill you have to cross a boulder field. You can avoid jumping boulders by finding your way a bit the left of where you came up the hill and then follow the faint path across the field where you don't have to do any "jumping".

The shores of the upper lake are pretty rocky and tree covered, so don't expect a nice beach up there. However the views are stunning, especially with the fall colors in full swing right now.

I'm giving 4 stars because the way to the upper lake isn't obvious and also I saw so many people up there. I prefer something a bit more secluded.

I only gave four stars due to the difficulty finding the trailhead and the trail to the second lake. ***Another reviewer posted directions which were very helpful. The trailhead is directly across from the lower parking area. (I’m posting a pic with an arrow.) Highway 50 is very busy, so be sure to have a good hold on your pups/kids and look both ways before crossing!
Otherwise — wow! What a beautiful trail. It is very rocky and steep, but my three 12-year-old pups did fine. If you have knee issues I definitely suggest trekking poles. There are several stream crossings where they can get water, and of course the lake where they can swim. We encountered no mosquitos at the first lake, but didn’t get to the second due to a storm coming in. We went on Sunday and only saw three other groups/individuals.

10/10 would hike again

Spectacular! Counterclockwise, four days. I hike with a pup that’s hit or miss with other dogs and was so happy to see most dogs were on leash on the loop.

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