• Activities:

    Running, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    8.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1400 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

This secluded out and back trail showcases some of the most panoramic views the Maroon Bells Wilderness has to offer. 

About 15 miles away from the ski resort town of Crested Butte lies the West Maroon Pass trailhead. This trailhead sees thousands of visitors every year as they make their trek over West Maroon Pass down into Aspen. While West Maroon Pass is beautiful, the heavy summer traffic can detract from the untouched beauty of the Colorado Rockies. However, this issue can be easily resolved by heading one mile west up Frigid Air Pass. 

Hikers will start at the West Maroon Pass trailhead. The dirt road leading there is pretty bumpy and it is highly recommended to drive a high clearance, AWD or 4WD vehicle (my Subaru outback has made the trip several times without problem). West Maroon Pass and Frigid Air Pass share the same trail for about three miles. The trail starts just below treeline near 11,500' and hikers are greeted by a wide, green valley less than a mile into the hike. The trail climbs gradually and is easily run-able for any runners looking for a quick ascent of this pass. Hikers arrive at  a fork in the path which directs hikers to the right for West Maroon, and to the left for Frigid Air. 

The Frigid Air ascent starts to get a little tougher at this point as the trail climbs up the side of the rolling hills of the West Maroon Wilderness. After a short climb, the trail flattens again and meanders around the top of the grassy hillside. Hikers will arrive at a small shallow pond and there will be an unmarked fork at this point of the trail. Hikers will turn right for Frigid Air, and see the obvious work ahead for the next quarter mile. The trail steepens significantly at this point and new hikers should take extra care not to slip on the rocks leading up the well defined path.

After about 5-10 minutes of hard climbing, hikers will stand atop the Frigid Air Pass summit (12,405'). This is a great place to stop for a mid-hike snack, or shoot some pictures of the surrounding areas (I imagine it would be incredibly beautiful during sunrise and sunset hours). After a well earned break, hikers will continue down the same path they came up back to the West Maroon parking lot.

Mid July is an ideal time to do this hike as the wildflowers are in full bloom. The sea of reds, purples, pinks and yellows make this trail almost surreal in its beauty. Crested Butte is the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado" and there is no better place to check out the town's namesake than here.

This hike only takes a few hours and adventurers can spend the rest of their day checking out West Maroon Pass, the nearby Emerald Lake, world renowned bike trail 401, or by heading back into the relative hustle and bustle of Crested Butte.  

Pack List

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Water (at least 1.5 liters)
  • Snacks
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Katie Lyons Explorer

Trail running, skiing, and photography enthusiast from Gunnison, CO.

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