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Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs

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White River National Forest

Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs is a 18 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September.

Distance: 18.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,791 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

forest

hot springs

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

no dogs

WARNING: Permits are required year-round for overnight camping in the vicinity of Conundrum Hot Springs. Permits are ONLY available at www.recreation.gov. The permit area includes all of Conundrum Creek Valley from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass. Overnight campers are required to reserve and camp in designated sites. Each designated campsite has an individual maximum number of people allowed to camp at the site (from 2-6 people). Conundrum Hot Springs/Conundrum Creek Trail is great for backpacking and normally takes a full day each way. It takes about 5-8 hours to hike in and 3-6 hours to hike out, on average. The trail is at high elevation, beginning at about 8,000 feet and ending at about 11,200 feet. The hike in is almost entirely uphill, at a fairly easy grade. The hike out is almost all downhill. The trail can be rocky and muddy but it is easy to follow and rated somewhere between moderate and difficult. The trail starts out at the trailhead where you will find parking for about 25 cars. However, because this trail gets so popular in late summer you may want to arrive early to ensure you get a spot. You will also need a bear canister for your food and scented products. Nearby retailers rent out these canisters. You may want to bring an extra pair of shoes because your feet are going to get wet. The hike begins with a mild grade through meadows, along Conundrum Creek, and through stands of aspen trees. There are lots of wildflowers and epic views of the snowy mountains in the distance. At about 2.5 miles you will come to your first major creek crossing, where there is a nice, wide, wooden bridge. From there the trail continues along the water and through more meadows. You will also pass a few ponds, and begin to see more pine trees. At mile 6 there is another major creek crossing with a wide wooden bridge. At 6.5 miles there is another creek crossing, this time with no bridge. You will see a sign directing you to a rope that you can hold onto while you cross the creek. The water may be deep and it is very cold, so use caution when making this crossing. From there, the last few miles of this trail are a bit steeper and may still have snow on them, especially if you are making this trip in June. At mile 8 you will see a cabin and a sign pointing you to campsites and the springs. The final hour or so of this hike involves many small creek crossings and your feet are likely to get wet. The springs are located above most of the campsites and are easy to find. There is one main hot springs pool that fits about 15 people and is about 102 degrees. Please note that you cannot have campfires in the upper campgrounds, and you will need to camp in designated spaces only (permits required). Rangers do patrol this hike and because of it's popularity, please be mindful to keep this area pristine. Please pack out all trash and follow all rules. Dogs are not permitted once you reach the permitted campsites and hot springs.

hiking
6 months ago

F-ing unreal.im serious I love this hike it is truly amazing. Hiked in from Aspen September 2017 and again September 2018, but from Crested Butte. The Autumn colors are literally jaw dropping. Both routes unfathomably beautiful. Coming over Triangle Pass definitely the more difficult of the two. One of my favorite places in the state. Don’t fuck it up.

snowshoeing
icy
muddy
snow
6 months ago

We did this as a day hike in early November. We had the whole trail and hot springs to ourselves. Day light is limited in the fall so we started hiking just after dawn and returned to the car just after sundown. WITH SNOWSHOES, it took us 5.5 hours to hike in and 4 hours to hike out, although we were hiking at a moderately fast pace being chased out by the darkness of the night. Beautiful scenery with rolling hills and huge rock faces overlook you every time you pop out of the trees. The trail is guided by the flowing creek, and there are many crossings that make this hike fun. Easy to moderate incline in the first couple miles. The steeper incline is in the last 2 miles leading up to the campsites and hot springs.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
snow
7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

One of the hardest hike I’ve ever done,& I don’t consider myself a novice. But it was beautiful . Like a scene from bonanza . Wide open & no one around!

hiking
7 months ago

We hiked this trail on 10/6 – 10/8, ten girls and stayed at campsites 18 and 19. We started at noon and took us a little over 6 hours to get up with a 30 min lunch break and a few other quick stops. We headed down at 9am and took us 5 hours to get down, also 30 min lunch break. I would agree with the assessment- not a hard trail, but a long trail for sure. Lows were in the 20s at night, comfortable during the day, our campsites felt very sheltered and we had easy access to the creek for water. Camp 19 was pretty sloped and difficult to get your tent flat. We did not experience any issues with bugs or wind, but campsites and trail were very dusty. We didn’t see any wildlife except for a couple of squirrels and chipmunks. Peak aspen leaves, we loved it! Low water crossings, and avalanche debris was mostly in the first mile, with one other section 2/3rds of the way up but easy to follow where others had navigated around it. One little rock scramble a little before the half way mark. We spent our day off relaxing at camp and hanging at the hot springs. We found them fairly clean, with the exception of a lot of forgotten items.

backpacking
blowdown
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

hiking
blowdown
bugs
rocky
snow
washed out
7 months ago

Beautiful trail with amazing views! Completed this over a weekend with a campsite by the hot springs. Definitely a good reward for the 9 mile trek into the wilderness. There is a fair amount of avalanche damage here and there, but not overly difficult to navigate. One section about 6 miles in requires you to backtrack a bit to get back on the trail, so don't worry if you think you're going the wrong way. A few previous hikers have marked the path on the fallen trees. Our campsite at 11,200' was very windy at night. Not sure if this is normal or not, but it did blow a lot of fine dust into our tents. We didn't see any bears on our trip, but one hiker in front of us said that they saw one cross the trail before we arrived. There were a maximum of 20 people in the hot springs area on Saturday, so it was a very good social experience to end the day of mostly isolation.

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked this trail on 9/14 and did it as a DAY HIKE. Started at 9am, was back by 7pm and still managed to spend about two hours in the hot springs. I would say it’s not a hard hike, it’s just a very long one. Was about a 20 mile round trip adventure, but very doable if you get an early start. Took about 4 hours each way with a day pack. Overall the trail was very well maintained and clean. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve done in Colorado to date, would highly recommend (even if it’s just for the day)!

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked the trail on 9/14 up and 9/15 down. All Trails is wrong and it’s about 9.7, 9.8 miles one way, but it was absolutely breathtaking! Took about 5-5.5 hours up and 3-3.5 down. I had permits so I ended up staying overnight at the springs. The trail conditions are great and I didn’t use my water shoes at all and hiked the whole thing in trail runners. There are logs on all the crossing and navigating the avalanche debris was no problem. The hot spring was very clean and you could even see the bottom if no one was in it. I didn’t see any trash around the area and it was very well kept. I stayed at site 3 and it was spectacular (just a lot of roots in the site). One tip is that there is a cold flowing stream at the top next to the hot springs so save your water filtering until later if at all possible. The last 2 miles are pretty brutal but well worth it. Also bring some hard alcohol if you want to relax in the tub! Highly recommend this trail!

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
8 months ago

I hiked this trail on 9/9/19 with my girlfriend. we're both novices but willing to take on a challenge, we spent the night at site 9. ( try to get sites 1-8 first, if they're taken 20-12 are better, only get 9-11 if you like hiking extra hills once you've hiked for 6 hrs. ) First off, If your gps tells you to make a right in 600 ft. ignore it ! and keep going until you get to the end of the dirt road where the trailhead starts. There are 4 avalanche debris fields and about 7 water crossings to cross. The debris fields aren't to technical but they do require extra energy to climb and they can be a bit dangerous if a log rolls or your foot slips into a hole. I was wearing river shoes and had no problems , and I also enjoyed that there was an extra challenge thrown into an already tough hike. Most water crossings were barely ankle deep usually with some sort of wooden plank or downed tree to walk over. There were 2 that required some balance , one of them was a couple of feet above the water and you could potentially get hurt if you fell. So I would be a little extra careful there. The water is about knee deep ,cold and swift in that area so it's best to use the bridge. Like I said I was wearing water shoes to a walk thru the water in all but one water crossing. I felt it refreshing/ The water is pretty cold ,standing in the stream for a few minutes. My legs would get numb. After you've passed the 4th avalanche debris field, it's about 2 more miles uphill until you see the first campsites. As you walk towards the hot springs. Sites 20-17 are the first ones you will come upon. If you're in one of those sites. That's great, but you still have a ways to go until you get to the hot spring. But at least you get to drop your pack, set up your tent and then head to the springs. There's a few more tent sites along the main trail until you get to number 12. Sites 9-11 break away to the right and go straight uphill with # 11 being the highest. Sites 1-8 break away to the left closest to the hot springs and river ( great if you need fresh water ). We started at 1125 am and arrived around 630 pm. we took 1 or 2 five minute breaks every mile. the debris fields also contributed to the extra time it took us to complete the hike. The way back it only took us 4 hours. A log rolled at one of the debris fields, I fell backwards but luckily my backpack cushioned the fall, So it can be dangerous.Don't listen to people trying to sound tough. Take your time.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

Hiked this Labor Day weekend. Avalanches are still very much impacting this hike, forcing you to climb over and around trees at many places. The hike in is almost all uphill, which can be challenging, but the hot springs at the end are a very welcome reward. Parking is tight at the trailhead, so arrive early in the day. My wife and I did this for her first backpacking trip ever and she loved it! Be ready for the elevation change. Lots of water all along the hike to refill your bottles, make sure to bring tablets or filters. And definitely bring bug spray for all the mosquitoes.

hiking
8 months ago

This was a great trail, as all the others have already said. Completed this last weekend, FYI the total length is 9.7 miles one way. I stayed at site 10 and tracked the distance leaving 10 and back to the start, exactly 9.7. Trail was very clear (for the most part), amazing views, saw 3 moose, tons of mosquitos so bring the bug spray. Although I had a permit it was never checked, a few bros getting super drunk and loud was a bit annoying but not much you can do about that. Would for sure recommend this trail just be ready for a rewarding & challenging hike.

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