Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs

HARD 119 reviews

Conundrum Creek Trail to Conundrum Hot Springs is a 16.7 mile moderately 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
16.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2791 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

hot springs

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

no dogs

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.

21 hours ago

***no glass***
***pack out your poop***

Stunning hike and hot springs, except that we cleaned up and packed out a previous camper's food trash and poop, in addition to our own. The hotsprings was lovely but people brought glass wine bottles and glass pipes. This area is world class! Be a better steward!

We are pretty fit ladies from Denver and we took six hours going up and four coming down. My GPS/Garmin claimed it was 9.8 miles (?!?).

The creek fording was mid-calf/below the knee on June 13-15.

Gorgeous place. I hope people don't ruin it.

hiking
2 days ago

Incredible hike, the new permit system and ranger enforcement has really gotten the area cleaned up. Springs are very clean. If you can do it on a weekday you'l likely have the area to yourself or only with a few other people. Not near as difficult of a hike as a lot of people seem to make it out to be. Trailhead to main pool in just under 3 hours, back down to trailhead in just over 2 hours. Don't think of it as a 17 mile hike, it's more like a 8.5 mile hike, with several hours in a hot spring, with another, separate 8.5 mile hike afterwards.

GPS clocked around 8.4 miles each way, trail and campsites are now free of snow.

hiking
3 days ago

At this current time with the condition of the trail, it is easily do-able in one day! There's really not a lot of wet trail, mostly dry except for the creek crossings. I started at 0730 and I was at the hot springs by noon. I had the springs all to myself for about an hour, which was a very nice treat. The trek down took about 3 hours, but I was hoofing it pretty hard on the descent. Definitely will see some wildlife! I saw two moose! and others I talked to on the trail had seen a bear. The rangers were out and being very stingy about permits and bear canisters, so make sure you have both if you're doing an overnight. Enjoy! It's a magical place.

backpacking
3 days ago

Backpacked this 6/13-6/14, trail was fairly moderate most of the way up until about the last mile. That was the steepest part of the hike in my opinion. Also, got to the top and we were booked to camp inside eight. My partner and I spent amount 45 minutes to an hour simply looking for the site. We did not find it, as a lot of the area inside seven and eight were covered with snow. Not sure if you can find them now. We ended up staying inside one, even though online everything looked book, there were probably approximately six groups at the top. Also a woman that I met at the top said that this trail was actually approximately 10 miles instead of the 8.7 miles according to the app.

backpacking
4 days ago

We did a 3 day backpacking trip from Aspen to Crested Butte so I'll break it down day by day. There was 5 of us and all of us are in our upper 20s and in good shape. However, only one of us had been on a long backpacking trip like this before.
Day 1: Arrived at Condundrum Creek trailhead on Aspen side on June 14, 2018 around 9 a.m. Got to the springs by 3. Still a few parking spots left. Parking doesn't seem to be as much of a problem as I thought it might be due to people constantly coming and going on the trail. However, it was a Thursday, not a weekend day. It took us about 6 hours to reach the hot springs including lunch and other short breaks. The river you have to ford towards the end of the hike was not difficult at all but we did not see the rope that is mentioned in other post. The last 2 miles is the most difficult part of this hike with most of the elevation gain in this section. The springs were beautiful, clean and only had about 20 people in them that night. Didn't feel crowded at all. Most people chose the nude option when in the springs. No snow pack on the trail at all this time of year. Definetly a doable out-and-back with just a day pack but would need to start early.
Day 2: Hiked over Triangle Pass to Copper Lake. Started around noon and got to the lake around 5. The hike up to Triangle Pass was very difficult with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain in only 2-3 miles. You cross over 4-5 small streams, about 2-3 snow packed areas and 2-3 small scree fields. It gets cold and windy towards the top so bring warm clothes. From the top of the pass it is a 2,000 foot elevation drop over about another 2-3 miles down to Copper Lake. There are about 7 areas where you have to walk through snow pack and most of the way down is through scree fields. Not particularly difficult but very tedious and tiring especially after just summiting Triangle Pass. The whole trip took about 4-5 hours. The last hour or so was difficult as we were very tired. However, Copper Lake was definetly worth it. We camped out there that night and had the whole lake to ourselves. Would not recommend hiking all the way down to Crested Butte from Condundrum Springs in one day and unless you are a very strong and experienced hiker or started early enough to take a lot of extended breaks.
Day 3: Continued down Copper Creek Trail down to the Judd Falls Trailhead. Was only about 4-5 miles long. Downhill the whole way. Had to ford a few small creeks but was a very easy and relaxing hike to end the trip. Only took about 2 1/2 hours.
Overall, a challenging trip, especially for beginners. But the springs, the views and alpine lake made it all worth it. The challenge was just part of the adventure.

6 days ago

This is a great hike with beautiful views and a CLEAN hot spring at the end. Sorry, but this is easily doable in one day. My daughter is 27 and I'm 54 years old and we not only did it one day, but drove all the way back to Colorado Springs too. Do get there earlier in the day bc the parking lot fills up fast. Happy trails!

backpacking
15 days ago

Came from the Aspen side and got an early start (7:30am). I highly recommend it as the campsites fill up quickly. The hike is pretty difficult, but manageable. The last push is the hardest and you just want to get there. We camped at #8 and though it's up the hill, you have a nice "balcony" there to look over the hot springs. I expected it to be crowded, but it wasn't that bad. Even got some alone time in the springs. We were there at the end of August, and it got pretty cold at night. 32 degrees. Stayed 2 nights then hiked up to Triangle Pass and into Crested Butte. Now, about that...

We left too late (10:30) and the hike to Triangle is very difficult, especially with 35 lbs on your back. Once over the pass, the trail is a long hike through scree. No one warned us, so I am doing it here. It was very scary. We had to ford many streams down the trail and it got too dark to do that, so we ended up having to camp another night. Be prepared and leave early.

camping
18 days ago

Completed last year. Tons of fun, excellent hike!!

backpacking
23 days ago

Came from Aspen side, Memorial day weekend 2018: By the time we left the trailhead around 845am, the parking lot was emptier than I thought it'd be--about 50%. Much of the trail was very wet and muddy-- Goretex /waterproof boots were necessary (for me). The notable stream crossing after Silver Dollar pond was about knee-high at mid-day and not bad with some Tevas and a trekking pole. After that point, there were more stream crossings around ankle high--gatiers would keep your feet dry unless you can stand some water getting in above your ankles. Our campsite #9 was past the hot springs up the mountain. Much of it was covered in snow and unfortunately was quite sloping. The views were absolutely stunning though.

backpacking
25 days ago

Coming from the aspen side. Trail was really easy to follow and a good hike. One part was really washed out but with trekking poles was ok. Snowshoes no longer needed. Many campsites still covered in snow. Maybe bring a shovel to dig yourself a level spot. Snow was mashed potatoes and lots of postholing. We brought snowshoes and didn’t need them except to hit our campsite (#11). Other than that, a good water proof pair of boots are essential. Sandals and trekking poles for the creek crossing. The water was about knee height and moving with some force. Pools still not very hot due to run off flowing in.

backpacking
27 days ago

Hiked this may 26-27. Incredible trip. Only stayed a single night but the spring is well worth the effort. With an evening and a morning soak before hitting the trail, it was about as much as we needed. Truly incredible natural spring with views of the peaks and a stunning shot of the valley you came up. The creek crossing was a great addition to the diversity of this hike. Don’t forget your permits and bear bins - rules and regs here https://www.recreation.gov/permits/Conundrum_Hot_Springs_Maroon_Bells_Snowmass_Wilderness/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=detail&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=156790

1 month ago

Coming from the Crested Butte side, things to know in mid-May: There is a gate three miles prior to the trailhead in which only locals can pass. The gate opens for a short 30 minute window each day if you’re lucky. Bring snow shoes, there is snow 3 miles up from the trailhead which gets as deep as five feet. If not, prepare for miles of postholing which will really slow you down. There are five water crossings. Two have downed logs to carefully walk across. The other 3 will get you wet below the knees. Once you’re above tree line, the snow covers most of the trail, making it slippery and slow moving. Don’t forget your permit, bear spray, and bear box as they are required.

hiking
1 month ago

Conditions report as of 5/13: Snowshoes highly recommended. The last 2.5 miles (starting at the pond) is waist deep snow. We did it without snowshoes, but we were post holing a whole lot. Most people without snowshoes gave up and camped in the snow, whereas most people with snowshoes made it all the way to the springs. Campsites are covered in snow, but there are plenty of grass patches if you want to set up camp wherever is convenient.

backpacking
2 months ago

Scenic and steady hike up. Perfect amount of backpacking-per-day. Springs were great, campground was dispersed. We thought the hike was quite manageable, but we found two texans stranded on the trail with no water and some pretty bad altitude sickness. Creeks are everywhere, so bring a water filter. High avalanche danger in the winter.

hiking
7 months ago

I don't recommend doing this hike all in 1 day. It's a bit much even for relatively experienced hikers. Even so, this was a great hike with a couple cool (but mild) challenges. Docking 1 star because the hot spring area wasn't that well kept and because I've been on better hikes.

backpacking
8 months ago

It's already winter up there so bring your layers! Snowed 4 inches the night we camped up by the springs. Also there are free wag bags at the trailhead. Use them! You'll save the Forest Service a lot of unpleasant work.

9 months ago

The best hike of my life. The scenery was amazing. Wading the open stream and crossing the railless bridges were unforgettable challenges.

backpacking
9 months ago

Hardest hike of my life because of the altitude, I'm from a sea level city and never been in the mountains before, but it was definitely worth the hike and experience. Scenery was amazing and the people you meet on the way were very nice. We camped over night and left early morning; to be honest I wish we could've stayed a little longer for the view and hot spring. Would recommend to anyone wanting a hike with great scenery.

10 months ago

We went from 8/18/17-8/20/17.
As challenging as it was, it was incredibly rewarding once you get to the top and soak in the hot springs. Bring flip flops/ water shoes (highly recommended) if you need them to cross water or also to use at the hot springs. Get there EARLY, and start the trail early to get a camp site at the top. Really be mindful of how you pack your load. Be prepared for the ascent up, it's not easy with 20-40lbs on your back. You cannot have fire at the very top camp sites so be prepared to bring freeze dried food/ or any type of food that you just need to add water.
Make sure to bring a rain cover for your pack and dry bags in the case there is a random rain shower (it really saved us from having wet everything inside our packs), especially since it gets COLD at night!
The hike was just insanely beautiful the whole way and back! Highly recommended.

backpacking
10 months ago

Okay, WOW, where do I begin? First off, if you are planning on backpacking, this is not an 'easy or moderate' hike by any means. 7.5 miles with a full backpack is DIFFICULT no matter what terrain you are going up. However, if you are not carrying an overnight backpack, then I could see this being a moderate hike. The uphill is not too bad, it's just very long.

The hike itself was my favorite part. The views are absolutely unbeatable and the obstacles you have to go through make it such a fun and exciting hike.

Beware - we got to the parking lot at 9:15 on Saturday morning (had to rent a bear canister in town, store didn't open till 9 :x (don't overlook this!!)) and we got one of the last spots. I would not recommend starting this hike any later than 9:30 on a weekend as you will likely not get a parking spot or a camping spot.

We got one of the last camping spots as well. If you can get to the top early, I would definitely hike to the very top where the hot springs are and camp up there.

The hot springs were awesome. Such a cool and unique experience. There were a lot of people up there when we went as it was late in the summer and a weekend, however, it was by no means 'out of control, or too rowdy' as some reviews (mostly on other sites) claim. I would recommend bringing some flip flops or sandals to wear to the springs and also to cross the river (on the hike) with.

10 months ago

The Hike, as many said before, is moderate with planning. Wish I had water proof hiking boots. My feet were soaked on regular trail before and after the ford; however wool socks kept me moderately comfortable. Take the advice someone mentioned below on the second pair of shoes to ford river, or at least to walk around in at the springs/campsite. I was happy I had them. After the ford there can be little bit of bouldering if you zig off the trail. Stick to the left and go across a "pond" with makeshift bridge with logs and rocks if bouldering is not for you.

backpacking
11 months ago

Loved this hike. Gradual climb that was hard but never overwhelming. AND THE HOT SPRINGS!!! WHAT A TREAT! We started the hike on a Tuesday and I'm so glad we did. We only had to share the hot springs with a few other people, parking wasn't an issue, and we had no problems getting a designated campsite (we managed to fit 4 tents in site 4A). Wish we would have stayed an extra day at the top and done the triangle pass hike as a day hike.
Insta: @kcluvskc

11 months ago

Great hike (7/8-7/9)! The hot springs and beautiful views make the difficulty of the trek completely worth it. A blowdown leveled a groove of trees blocking the trail in the last stretch of the hike but the forest service built a trail around it, to the right. Bring water shoes to cross the creeks (my Chacos worked fine). Most of the hike is through meadows with gorgeous wildflowers so reapply sunscreen often! Let's keep this place pristine, wild and accessible in the future: Use a bear canister for your food, pack out your waste (human solid waste included, pick up bags with wipes and TP courtesy of the forest service at the trailhead) leave your dog home (no dogs allowed past a certain point on the tail), and no fires! We can preserve this incredible place together.

backpacking
11 months ago

The hot springs and views at the top are worth every bit of effort you put in. Trail is pretty constant gain the entire hike up, but never to steep. We hiked it a couple weeks ago and a few of the campsites were covered in snow. We saw a lot of people camping outside of designated sites and a few groups with dogs. Please, for the sake of the entire community, follow the rules so that others can enjoy the hot springs after you.

11 months ago

The trip was great. There was very little snow on the trail. There was a section of trees knocked over from an avalanche that took a bit of navigating, otherwise the trail was perfect. A few of the camping sites were still snowed in, but nothing a week more of warm weather won't fix. From reading reports the springs would be crowded and messy. I didn't experience any of that.

hiking
11 months ago

Amazing! We did it in mid May and because of the snow it took us longer than expected but I loved the challenge and all the vegetation.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don't start past 1. It's a true 5-6 hour hike, then you're tired and the hot spring falls to the shadows of the mountains. Get up to the top early, get your snacks, set up camp, soak and relax.

Lots of down trees at mile 6 or 7. It's manageable, thank the trail workers if you see them cutting it out. The river crossing is at 5ish miles. Really cold. BRING EXTRA SHOES. Your feet will be wet. ( think I was hiking with wet feet after mile 4) I got to camp site 10 and I immediately put my wool socks and sandals on. Very nice hike. I'm sure after the snow melts off all the camp sites will be easier to find.

Go do this hike.

@mybestfriendatx

backpacking
Monday, June 19, 2017

Hiked this on June 14. The last two miles or so still have lots of snow, slush, and fallen trees but we still managed to hike in in about 6 hours and out in 4 hours. The temperature at night was warm so our wet feet were not much of a problem. The hot spring was amazing and totally worth the hike in.

This is probably one of the best hikes I have ever done. There are gorgeous view around every turn and the path is easy to follow. Plus you end up at one of the most beautiful hot springs I have ever been to. More than worth the work! While July and August might be the best time of year for this hike, doing it in late June means less people, which is great.

hiking
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hiked June 11-13 for my second time in 2 years. A lot more snow this time. The river crossing is about knee high and isn't as bad as people say it is as long as you bring reliable water shoes. The last couple miles are rough. Slushy snow and lots of post holing. Recent avalanches caused trees to fall over the trail almost got lost a couple times. Felt like i needed a machete through a jungle. Still lots of snow surrounding all the campsites. Still very doable and the added difficulty just the made the hot spring more enjoyable. Probably 3-4 weeks from prime season.

backpacking
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

One of the best hikes I've ever taken. Trust me, do it in the fall when the Aspens have turned and it's nice and cool. Awesome natural hot springs reward at the end. Just a great mix of terrain. Steepest part is right at the end, but really worth it. Parking sucks. We had to drive all the way back out to the main road to park and hike the road back adding a lot of unnecessary road mileage. Also keep in mind theirs naked people in the hot springs if that kind of thing bugs you.

Load More