Hike the West Maroon Pass in the Maroon Bells

West Maroon Pass Trailhead, Carbondale, Colorado, United States

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Running, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    10.5 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Incredible Vistas. No permit required (If day hiking). Stunning Wildflowers. 10.5 Miles (Crested Butte to Aspen). Elevation Gain: 2,360 ft.6-10 hours.

West Maroon Pass – one of the four passes in the Four Pass Loop gives you the wow factor of hiking in the Maroon Bells Wilderness in a day-hike format.

West Maroon Pass can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Hiking Crested Butte to Aspen (10.5 miles, ~2,300 ft. elevation gain, 6-10 hours)
  • Hiking Aspen to Crested Butte (10.5 miles, ~3,200 ft. elevation gain, 6-10 hours)
  • Hiking from Crested Butte to the top of the pass and back (7.8 miles ~2,300 ft. elevation gain, 4-5 hours)
  • Hiking from Aspen to the top of the pass and back (13.2 miles, ~3,200 ft. elevation gain, 6-10 hours)

Route (Crested Butte to Aspen):

Leaving from the Crested Butte trailhead parking lot, the trail enters into a wooded area that traces along the Crystal River. Once passed the trees, there will be an old abandoned cabin, keep right. The trail will continue into a spectacular basin filled with wildflowers. If you are coming for the wildflowers, the Crested Butte side in July is a must see. Crested Butte is the Wildflower Capitol of Colorado after all (crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com/)!

About two miles in the path will fork. Bear right towards the rocky saddle. (There will be a small low sign which indicates West Maroon Pass – right, but be careful, it can be easy to miss). Continue along in this direction until you come across the intersection for Frigid Air Pass. Continue on to West Maroon Pass where the incline steepens dramatically as you reach the summit of the pass. Here you will have spectacular views of Belleview Mountain, Len Showmaker Ridge and the Maroon Bells.

The remainder of the route to Aspen is well defined. While the slope is relatively gradual the trail can be very rocky, wet, and slippery with a couple river/stream crossings. The last leg of the trip passes Crater Lake before meeting up with the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail and dumping you out at Maroon Lake.Have time to hang out and enjoy the rest of the day? Snap some shots at one of the most iconic spots in Colorado and Relax at the Maroon Bells Relax at the Maroon Bells.

Other Considerations Recommendations:

  • Hiking time will vary depending on fitness level.
  • Afternoon Storms are common – try a sunrise start time to beat the crowds and the downpour.
  • Snowmelt at high altitude lasts into fall leading to wet and muddy trails. There are also a couple river crossings. You won’t regret packing an extra pair of dry socks and shoes or sandals.
  • Make it an overnight trip. Pack a backpack with the essentials and plan to stay the night in CB or Aspen and hike back. Only up for hiking one direction or need a lift to the trailhead? Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle (crestedbutteshuttle.com), or Alpine Express (alpineexpressshuttle.com) are great resources.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Rain Jacket
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra Socks
  • Warm Layers
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The south side of West Maroon Pass has some of the best wildflower concentrations in the area during July.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

J.J. Benson

bikes. ski's. and fly rods. 

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