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I hiked this trail CCW from 11-13 Sept 2018.

Flew into DEN and rented a car - beautiful drive, but budget 4 hours as an absolute minimum. Overnight parking is very limited at the TH, so unless you get there very early in the morning, you'll likely have to take a shuttle from town and pay for parking.

I left the TH at 1.28p on the 11th, and camped near mile 6.2 on this map. Plenty of h20 heading toward buckskin, but it got a little thin on the way down until you reach the meadows. Excellent view on buckskin, but it was quite windy, so I didnt hang out long.

After trail rider pass there is a little water at a pond, nothing else until ~ mile 11.7.

Beautiful waterfall near mile 13.5.

Camped near mile 15. Sites near water are nearly impossible to find. I just took what I could get & camped on a slight angle, then hiked several hundred yards to water.

Frigid Air pass was so beautiful in the early morning light. Hiked 3.5 hours without seeing another person.

Everywhere I read said no water between FA and Maroon passes - thats not true. I passed several great streams to get water. Beautiful basin.

Maroon pass took me about 6 minutes to climb. Literally. All of these passes with exception of Buckskin LOOK a lot taller than they actually are.

Lots of great campsites between MP and the TH. Water between MP and ~mile 21 is sparse.

One of my favorite trails. Have fun! :D

camped nearby past Lakeview camping (it was closed). Plethora of camping spots and all along the road to Elbert upper trailhead. We took the lower trail up and looped back on the road. Saw a few deer! And went past the upper trailhead a little to see the beaver dam. My pup loved it and we enjoyed the leaves!

Beautiful wild flowers!!

hiking
1 month ago

We did the trail one way, CB to Aspen, on 9/23. Left the Schofield Pass trailhead at 9am and caught the 3:40pm shuttle from Maroon Lake. No animals or trail issues, but the wind at the top of the pass was intense - bring layers. We had 2L of water each and that was more than enough.

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic challenging beauty extravaganza getting to the top was big challenge for me but made it felt exhilarated hiking down other side to Schofield Pass. We spent the night on CB and hiked there the next day so only did one way my greatest challenge in hiking to date. I’m hooked.

We hiked this trail on 9/15 and the Aspen trees were beautiful. We got to the area around 6 am, but parking was already full. They started running shuttles at 7 so we didn't have to wait to long. We had intended to just do the Crater Lake Trail, but kept going and took the West Maroon Trail to the saddle (6.5 out and 6.5 back for a 13 mile hike). It was our third day in Colorado and we are from DC, but the altitude really didn't bother us - if you are in shape you can do it! You start to lose the crowds after Crater Lake. We started out in long pants and long sleeves but shed layers halfway through the hike. The scenery is stunning the entire hike. The only wildlife we saw were the marmots playing in the rock fields - so cute. If we knew we were going to do this long of a hike, we would have brought more than just 2 Larabars and 2 packs of crackers. We ran out of water at mile 12, luckily there is a fountain at the visitor center. The last 1 mile to the top of the saddle was the most challenging. I'm afraid of heights so I took my time when coming back down that last mile - the trail is very narrow and steep with not many rocks to give good grip (hiking poles would have been helpful). The top of the saddle offers great views - most went on from their to spend the night over in Crested Butte. Crowds were heavy around the visitor center in the afternoon.

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.

Go figure .... flight from Denver is delayed by almost 2 hours to go home! Damn the luck
Happy birthday to me

hiking
2 months ago

We had a beautiful hike to Grizzly Lake. The last half has little shade or cover as you are at timberline. Saw big horn sheep! Got to the lake and fished for a while. Great fishing and caught beautiful native cutthroats. Saw only a couple of hikers on the trail. Had it to ourselves pretty much the whole hike. Took our time going up as the altitude and the incline took their toll, but the views and the lake are totally worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

Make sure to bring your rain gear

hiking
2 months ago

beautiful hike. forest, meadows and beautiful mountains. long hike but well worth it. gradual climb with only a few steep parts

Hiked this from Aspen to Crested Butte in late August. 11+ miles. Took us 7hrs. Started at 0900, took shuttle to trailhead. Have to be at maroon bells gate by 0800 if you I want to park there. Hike was challenging and beautiful. I would rate the whole thing as difficult to moderate/difficult. Hiking uphill to the West Maroon Pass portion was difficult for us we had shortness of breath until we go to the top. Had 3L of water each and light snacks, apples, jerky, trail mix, cliff bars, rice crispy treats. I only used 1L, bf used 2. And RAIN GEAR we def had to get it out a few times and then it started thunderstorming around 2:30pm. Wasn’t a monsoon but def raining. Took Dolly’s shuttle at end to CB. Paid Maroon Bells Shuttles to drive our car from Aspen to our lodging in CB. Too late for the wildflowers but still beautiful. There are a few trail signs but no blazes. Crossed several streams but it was late summer so could step on rocks for all of them. Hiking poles and starting by 0800 would’ve been better.

This is a difficult but extremely rewarding hike with some of the most amazing scenery and terrains I have experienced. My brother and I did it clockwise in 2.5 days. Big 13 mile day to Fravert Basin to start. Day 2 hike up to trail rider pass was brutal and the most difficult part of the entire loop by far. We camped at Snowmass Lake second night before hitting Buckskin pass and finishing. Next time I will go counterclockwise just to try it but from all I've read and talked with people there is no easy way around the loop. If you are doing a 3 day hike, no matter which way you go around you will likely need to do one long 12+ mile day hitting West Maroon Pass and Frigid Air Pass, and two shorter days. The most amazing thing we saw was the trail runners who do this loop in one day.....perhaps the most impressive feat of fitness I have ever seen.

Have done this loop on previous trips with friends as a 3 day backpacking trip. During the last one I ran into two 60 year old women doing this as a single day hike. I was stunned, but it got me thinking, so I came back on August 9, 2018 and did the loop as a one day hike by myself. I did it clockwise with a light pack of about 10 pounds. It was a little warm and just a few sprinkles at sunset, but otherwise the weather and the trail were perfect. It did take me all day and I was pretty tired at the end, but felt good enough to drive the hour back to Glenwood Springs. I am in awe of the people who can run this loop. I will be 70 on my next birthday.

Beautiful and worth the trek. Avid hikers, but 20lb+ of backpack adds a whole new element to it. Arrived at 730p Friday and Hiked 2 miles in the dark. The next day we hiked 16 miles (ended just before Frigid Pass). Last day we finished the remaining. Plowed through it based on time we had. Would have loved a leisurely 4 day backpack, but if can be done in 2 days. DEFINITELY recommend doing it counter clockwise. My guess is everyone wants to ease into it w a gradual climb on day 1, but it’s worth doing Buckskin pass 1st!Pays off later. Low 40s/high 30s at night. No bugs. Had a 1/2 day of relentless rain. Hand warmers were key! Hammock camped both nights, and even with some rain I was a happy camper! Was not overwhelmed by the amount of people on the trail. Surprised there wasn’t more actually. Very rewarding!! But bed feels good now.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful glacier-carved valley. Too bad that there is no marker pointing toward the trail to Tabor Lake. It takes off from the main trail, to the west, about 2.3 miles in (may read 5.1 of the out and back total). Elevation on the app is 11,657, 11,630 on phone. You have to be looking for flattened grass just to the left of a small pointed group of rocks. The vague trail disappeared into nothing, but if you continue, bearing slightly left you soon come to an obvious, well-traveled trail that leads steeply to Tabor Lake at 12,320 ft.

Only gave it 4 starts because I didn’t get to see the end of the trail. Was the first out there and have seen animal droppings and tracks. including bear and deer. Had to turn around because my family’s waiting for breakfast.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike up to the 3.0 mike mark. Up to that point really nice blend of single track, nicely shaded trail and a river at the start and after two miles. After 3.0 miles trees are down and it is very hard to pass or even tell where the trail goes. However, before you get there could not recommend the Difficult trail more!

Not for the faint of heart. This trail has serious elevation change and the trail on the Maroon Bell side of the pass is full of rocks.

hiking
3 months ago

Friends and I hiked half of this trail (one way), from Crested Butte to Aspen on 8/1. We took Dolly’s shuttle to the trailhead. No restrooms at trailhead from this direction. The hike is beautiful. Flower season was early this year, but we still had many to view. The lupine smell amazing! Lots of water crossings, they weren’t as big as we had expected. It’s dry this year. I went through about 2 liters of water. I was carrying a filter, didn’t need to use it. Unfortunately, wildfire smoke was evident in the sky. I don’t normally use poles, but had them on this trip. Glad I did! The trail has a lot of loose rocks, especially above Crater Lake. We saw and heard many pika, fresh bear scat (we think), bees and a few hummingbirds. The trail was more crowded than expected, still wonderful. Great campsites and backcountry spots if you’ll be hiking part way or half, then back. We again used Dolly’s shuttle back to CB. Dolly’s arrangements need to be made well in advance. I would possibly plan this hike differently next time... but would love to see it again!

This trail would be a 5 in Illinois, for instance, but in Colorado, there are much better options. Beautiful aspen groves and a few scenic overlooks, but too many campers. No wildlife. The northern leg of the route is a 4WD track and you will have to move over for trucks etc. Highly recommend the short loop at the northwest end of the trail, where you can find the longest beaver dam any of us had ever seen. Would have rated this as moderately trafficked, and definitely on the easy side of moderate.

hiking
3 months ago

Gorgeous hike, quickly leave the trees for open hiking through fields of wildflowers surrounded by rugged peaks. Reminds me more of the Alps than a typical setting in the Rockies. BUT, and it’s a big but, it’s easy to forget in this range they the valleys are high and the ridges even higher - we got crushed by a massive hailstorm at 11:30am on our way down and even deep in the valley, there was no cover and a big hurting from nickel hail that accumulated thick on the trail. Respect the weather, and remember that the storms don’t always wait till the afternoon.

Hey this trail does not let dogs in the loop

definitely go counter clockwise.
took me and my friend 3 days 3 nights.
6 miles the first day, 7 miles the next and 12 miles & the last two passes the last day back to over flow parking lot.

Amazing trip. Went clockwise. Planned for 4 days, but did it in 3, mainly because we didn't want to stop in the valley between Frigid Air and Trailrider because there were so many flies and mosquitoes, so we pushed on and made that a 13 hour day. I think from the 4-day people we met, we were probably in a better place mentally than they were, so I was thankful to be out in 3. Just loved it tho. Can't think of a much better way to spend 3 days.

Absolutely loved this hike!!! Our GPS said it was 8.3 miles. GREAT WORKOUT. breathtaking beauty loved hiking through several Alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers of every color, crossed a few streams. pretty steep up the final mile ... really worked to get to the top. but we zipped down. We had a very late start after 4:15 so recommend starting earlier

Amazing wildflowers and mountain views! Fantastic trip that was well worth the climbs to the top of each pass. Those are no joke for a flatlander like myself coming straight from Missouri!!

Did the trip in 3 short days and 2 nights. If you’re fit and willing 1 night is possible with an early start.

Plenty of water so never carried more then 1.5L between stops.

No sign of bears or much wildlife other then the marmots, birds, and ground squirrels. Saw a couple of deer run by camp one night but nothing else.

Trail is very easy to follow except around popular camping areas like Snowmass lake. Lots of side trails and crisscrossing so it took a bit to get back on the main loop. Not dangerous, just a little frustrating even with a GPS and topo map.

We stayed near Snowmass Lake at the group/campfire sites the first night going counter clockwise. Sites at the lake would have been better and avoided a long descent and climb back up to the main trail.

Second night was on the approach to Frigid Air pass just above the waterfall. Camping between Frigid Air and West Maroon pass would be possible but not ideal unless you really want to split the miles more evenly.

Bear canisters are required and they checked when we got there so be prepared.

The weather was mostly typical for Colorado summers. Cool nights, warm if the suns out and afternoon thunderstorms. We did have hail the first evening for about 20-30 minutes straight. Completely covered the ground!

A must do hike all in all!

Wildflower heaven!! It was hard but worth every step.

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