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Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in Colorado spans 181,535-acres (734.65 km2) within the White River National Forest and Gunnison National Forest. It features the Elk Mountains, Conundrum Hot Springs, Maroon Lake, and many other popular outdoor destinations. The wilderness is named after two of the most popular peaks Maroon Bells and Snowmass Peak. In this scenic area you will find extensive hiking trails, the aspen highlands, and opportunities to ski. You can view beautiful fall colors, and swim in numerous alpine lakes, or backpack through aspen groves in the rocky mountains. Please note that Bear Canisters are REQUIRED while backpacking in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Permits are required for overnight stays at Conundrum Hot Springs.

Great Views. Only complaint was that it was very rocky so it was challenging for the dogs at times.

hiking
1 day ago

Rocky but moderate hike. Summer 2018 Crater Lake is more like a pond but we burned the calories so we could eat more great food in Aspen.

A beautiful walk! Very easy trail which allowed us to truly enjoy all of the different types of vegetation in the area :)

Echoing previous reviews... this mountain is not to be trifled with. It's less of a hike and more of a challenging mountaineering route. If it's your first 14er, don't go. If you're not completely confident in your ability, don't go. If you didn't bring proper gear (helmet, layers for bad weather, lots of water) don't go. Uncomfortable with airy climbs and steep drop offs? Definitely don't go. Everything past the first gulley is steep, technical and relentless. Definitely review the route on 14ers.com. definitely get an alpine start - it will take considerably longer than other hikes of similar distances. Even if you don't have knee issues, poles are a game changer on the steep and loose descent. After branching off from Minnehaha Gulch, there is nearly zero chance to refill your water this time of year, so bring more than you think you'll need. All that said, it was very rewarding to make it to the top... feels like a major accomplishment. The view is epic from start to finish.

Be ready. Prepare. Physically and upstairs. And it will be one of the most memorable camping experiences. Period.

hiking
6 days ago

We were told by the bus driver that Crater Lake was a lot more dried up this year, and that was completely obvious once we saw the lake. I’m sure it would have been a lot more attractive if the water were higher. But pretty views throughout the hike! Saw a ton of families, so should be doable for most kiddos. And if you have a dog, they’ll probably enjoy cooling off in the lake at the top.

I’m physically active so I thought the trail itself was mostly easy, but we flew in from GA ~18 hours before the hike and I definitely felt some negative affects of the altitude adjustment. If you’re not used to high altitudes, bring plenty of water and remember to take deep breaths.

My first solo trip. Weather was perfect and the trail lived up to all my expectations. CLockwise and glad I did!

hiking
8 days ago

Easy and beautiful

Bunch of knobs on the trail

The hike is great, lake is underwhelming. Views along the hike are awesome.

For those of us not used to the altitude (we are from GA) this was a pretty difficult hike on the way to Crater Lake. Mostly uphill and very rocky. Took about an hour hike to get to Crater Lake but the view was gorgeous! Plan on packing a lunch or snacks and taking in the view—and a short rest! Definitely want to get there early as it gets very crowded on the narrow, rocky trail as the day progresses. We got to Highlands at about 8:15 to take the bus up to Maroon Bells. Go early—very popular destination! Bring lots of water too.

We arrived to start the loop on Saturday morning at 5:30 am. Were greeted with overnight lot full sign. There were two parking spots in the overflow area just before the overnight lot. When we walked thru the overnight lot, there was one open spot. When we returned on Tuesday both of those parking areas were full. You might have to check out the other overflow parking area to find a parking spot.
We did the loop CW to West Maroon pass first. We did this because one hiker was not acclimated, and this direction is not as steep. The valley was crowded with hikers and runners up to the pass. The camp sites between West Maroon and Frigid Air are about 1/4 mile off the trail in the trees. There is a stream for water between the trail and campsites.
Thunderstorm started at 6 pm and rained and sleeted for a couple of hours. Intermittent rain thru the night. Only about 800 ft elevation change from camp to Frigid Air pass, a 100 yard section was steep and slick from the rain, so it was a relatively easy morning hike. 2100 ft elevation change downhill into the next valley.
We camped just after the intersection with the Geneva lake trail. Several nice camp sites in the area and water is close at the river.
Third day was a tough one. First 2170 ft elevation change up to Trail Rider pass. 1700 ft elevation change down into the Snowmass lake area. Then 800 ft elevation change up to our next campsite. The area was dry due to the summer conditions, so a lot of streams were dried up. There is water in Snowmass lake but we didn't need water at the time. We didn't really want to pull water out of the swamp, though the beaver dam was busted and it was flowing. At the campsites halfway up to Buckskin pass, there were two good streams for water.
Fourth day another roughly 800 ft elevation change to Buckskin pass, then close to 3000 ft downhill to the parking lot.
Outside of the main valley the trail was not crowded. Beautiful flowers, lakes and mountain scenery. Lots of animals, pikas, marmots, deer and a mountain goat guarding Buckskin pass.
Doing the trail in the CW direction was right of us, so the unacclimated hiker was able to make it. But it does make the last half of the hike the hard section. If you are a flatlander and live at low elevation like me, I do recommend spending a 3 or 4 days to acclimate before doing high altitude hiking.

on Crater Lake Trail

hiking
11 days ago

I found the low level of the lake and the dirty water to be a little underwhelming. The view of the surrounding mountains is very nice, as is the aspen forest on the way in.

hiking
11 days ago

Best views are at the front half of the hike. The creek at the end is great for little kids. Mostly open.

A nice option and a way to split off from the possibly crowded main trail is to include Hasley Pass and Frigid Air Pass in a clockwise loop. I've heard this route referred to as the West Maroon Short Loop. The views east over the ridge between Hasley and FA are breathtaking. Then celebrate a successful day hike at Secret Stash Pizza in CB.

Pretty neat!

Doing this loop at the end of the week and was wondering if bear canisters were required.

Did it CCW......Was a very hard brutal and at times scary climb to a couple of the passes. Fridge Air was steep as hell and very loose rock for this 67 year old man we had great weather not sure I could do it in rough weather wind and rain you know...would slide right off. 4 days 3 night .....but loved it and may do it again CW

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
14 days ago

Go early to beat the crowds and dress in layers.

hiking
16 days ago

Moderate, shirt hike with beautiful vistas! Would recommend!

hiking
16 days 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!

I am looking for someone who has actually hiked both the hot springs and conundrum/castle peaks. Looking to do this hike this weekend and would like information on trail conditions, snow on trail, recent weather, any tips, trail finding difficulty, etc. If anyone could comment back on here, I'd be super grateful! Can't find much information online.

hiking
18 days ago

Amazing views at Maroon Lake (starting point) and at Crater Lake! I found this to be more easy to moderate...the moderate being due to the higher elevation and all the rocks. The rocks are no joke. I rolled my ankle a few times in hiking shoes...wished I had full on boots. There are really only a couple patches without rocks, so be prepared for that. We started around 11:45 on a Wednesday in July and it was still super busy. Come early to enjoy the peace and quiet. Took us about 2hrs round trip, plus about 30 minutes of lounging at Crater Lake.

Just did this hike 2 days ago. The wildflowers were in full bloom. One of our favorite hikes in CB. The dogs loved the hike also. Took us about 5 hours from trailhead to the peak and back.

This was my first solo backpacking trip. I completed the loop counterclockwise, and I did it in three days. It was challenging but so beautiful. This trail includes wildflowers, lakes, and everything in between. If you are new to backpacking, I would recommend only doing part of the loop versus the whole thing. You can still see some beautiful scenery!

Amazing trail. Challenging with gorgeous scenery. Be sure to arrive at your campsite early enough to grab a good spot. Some spots like The Basin and Snowmass Lake filled up quickly.

This trail was 100% unreal. Last year my buddy and I did the 4 pass loop and thought it was the best hike ever. Truth be told, this loop is longer, has better views and WAY LESS PEOPLE! Bring a map and a compass, cause you will need it on some sections/junctions. I have not one bad thing to say about this trail. It is very challenging, yet so rewarding!!! Enjoy this private loop until the word gets out. It’s phenomenal

This is one of my favorite hikes. The trail is a bit busy on weekends but worth it!! Kid and dog friendly but watch your footing because it gets a bit rocky!

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