Crater Lake Trail is a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Aspen: From mid-June through September the Maroon Creek road is closed from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., you will need to take a shuttle. You can catch the shuttle from Rubey Park on Durant Street in Aspen. There is a fee for the Maroon Creek Shuttle.If you get an early start, drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left at the roundabout onto Maroon Creek Road. Keep right and continue 9-1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake parking area.
Loved this hike! If you arrive before 6am, you're able to park your POV at the trailhead. I had the privilege of meeting a bull moose near the beginning of the trail, but he didn't mind me. The elevation can be a bit of a killer if you're new to CO, but such incredible views make it work the effort.
Amazing hike! Bring good shoes for rock hiking! :)
I enjoyed every step of this trail. The view of the Bells is magnificent. Not much water in the lake when we were there in October but still definitely worth the hike. Make sure you have water as the air is very dry and, if you live at sea level, be ready to take frequent breaks as the air is also thin at nearly 10,000 feet.
Maroon Bells in the fall, there's a reason this area gets so many visitors. Seeing the Aspen change color in Aspen, CO should be on everyone's bucket list. Trailhead parking was closed so we jumped on the Aspen shuttle bus with our dog. Maroon Lake was a madhouse with visitors, lots of tourists. A quick hike through the woods and then you're at Crater Lake, which will be considerably less crowded and will take you a lot closer to the Bells.
As others have commented....this trail is rocky but totally worth it !! My GPS clocked in at 3.7 Miles and 614ft of altitude gain so YMMV. Bring water!! The trail is well marked and well traveled. If you get there before sunrise, you can drive your car to the trail head without much issue.
Great trail...only difficult part was finding a parking spot (Oct 23?- shuttle not running). Rocky trail with altitude gain so plan accordingly...appropriate hiking shoes (yes, don't wear high heels, flip flops or Berkenstock clogs) and bring water. Lots of dogs on the trail, too.
Gorgeous views. Although the lake had dried up, it was worth it to hike all the way up there.
We hiked this trail on Saturday, Oct 2nd, and it was gorgeous! The fall colors surrounding the Bells were absolutely beautiful this time of year. Bring your camera!
9/28/16 - really what more needs to be said. It's the most photographed place in all of Colorado. Here's the kicker... You can't drive there. They don't allow cars due to pollution except wee hours of the morning. So be prepared to take a bus from Aspen and a fee. Totally with it plus you get a great info tour from the bus driver. Very very crowded which is annoying but it's the price you pay for such beauty.
Starts with shaded uphill and end in level, but exposed, boulder field. Thicker soled shoes and hiking poles are helpful. Dogs allowed on leash. Super busy on weekends, better to save for weekdays.