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Fishing: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Conundrum Creek Trail

Average Time: 1 Days one way
Beginning Elevation: 8,500 Feet (2649.6 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2,700 Feet (841.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,200 Feet (3491.3 Meters)
Length: 8.5 Miles (14.17 Kilometers) one way
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 128, 127 Maroon Bells, Redstone, Marble and Aspen, Independence Pass
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 1981
Usage: Extremely Heavy
USGS Maps: Hayden Peak, Maroon Bells

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Natural hot springs complete the setting in which lie the headwaters of Conundrum Creek
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Natural hot springs complete the setting in which lie the headwaters of Conundrum Creek
Although the trail is moderate in terrain, it is a long day hike or 2 day backpacking trip. The trail generally parallels Conundrum Creek up the valley, following an old jeep trail which then turns into a trail. There are 3 river crossings before the hot springs (these can be hazardous during runoff periods). The first crossing is at the 2-1/2 mile mark, the second in 6 miles, and the third at 6-1/2 miles. At mile 8 there is a cabin, with the hot springs 1/2 mile beyond on the left. See Copper Creek Trail for more information on hikes to Triangle Pass and Copper Lake beyond Conundrum Hot Springs.

Directions from Aspen: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82. At the roundabout, turn onto Castle Creek Road. Drive exactly 5 miles up Castle Creek then turn right onto Conundrum Road. Continue 1.1 miles to a parking lot at the trailhead. Be careful not to stray onto the numerous private drives found along the road.

Seasonal Information:
Best Fall Colors: Mid-September through Late September (NOTE: Season varies from year to year.) . Normally Accessible: June through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail due to avalanches.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche danger and hypothermia. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:36:00.0

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Filed By: Jon VonOhlsen
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Touch climb going in due to cold & snow. Bridges in place, except for one area required fording. We left late, so continued at night in a snowstorm, not recommended. In good weather the water crossings are no big deal, at night in snow, they can be treacherous.
Conditions: Trail was muddy transition to snowy w/ mud. Not too steep, although the last 2 miles seemed steep & long with heavy packs. Late season, recommend hiking poles and prep for winter camping - it can get cold & snowy. Camp near the hot springs even though it is an extra climb to those campsites - the sun will make it worth it. The hot springs are a great treat, don't forget a towel!
Water Availability: Lots of water, either boil or filter.
Recommended Clothing: Late season, use layers and a light weight shell. Leave early, it is a longer climb than one expects - especially with heavy packs.
Suggested Accessories: Headlamp, hiking sticks, gloves, ground cover, Goretex shells and pants, all recommended on top of winter gear for late season ( after Sept)

Filed By: Will Allen (Colorado Springs, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The trail is clear. The bridge is out on the first creek crossing. However someone strung a rope across the creek to aid in fording the river. The second bridge is partially under water. We decided to ford the creek but saw people crossing the partially submerged bridge. The third and final crossing has no bridge and must be forded unless you feel up to crossing the creek on a log jam. The rest of the hike was realivley easy.
Conditions: Had to cross one snow field. Lots of bugs this year. Very moist up there.
Water Availability: Plenty of water available

Filed By: Christa (La Veta, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We attempted the hike early in the season and during the week to avoid having to share the trail with too many fellow packers. Since it was a record snow year in Aspen (the ski hill actually opened June 14-15) we had very little company indeed. We encountered a total of 5 people, separated into 3 groups on the first day (Monday), didn't see a soul on Tuesday, and saw a few day hikers and a Forest Ranger not far from the trailhead on Wednesday. The bridges were out at the crossings at 2.5 and 6 miles (there's never a bridge at 6.5) but we crossed 2.5 on a log jam and 6 on a 30-40 foot high snowbridge created by a snow slide. Unfortunately the water rose and when we tried to go back across the log jam at 2.5 miles, it was submerged. The creek was high and dangerous so we camped out at about 5:30pm and waited for the snowmelt to slow and the creek to go down overnight. We woke in the morning to find that so many logs had come downstream overnight that the log jam was a jumbled mess too dangerous to cross. We found a narrow (about 20 feet) spot upstream a bit where we could jump partway across and then swim hard. We hauled our gear and the dogs across with a rope (always bring extra rope!) It was pretty scary and very cold. So if you go early in the season, be prepared!
Conditions: Lots of snow from the crossing at 6 miles on. We encountered 2 guys who had turned back because they were postholing to their mid/upper thighs. We had snowshoes and were OK, though the snow was so soft in the sun that we still did some slipping. Also, the trail was hard to find in spots. Spent a fair amount of time backtracking as we hadn't done this trip before. Crossed a couple slide areas with lots of downed trees to climb over.
Water Availability: Plenty of water available from the Conundrum Creek, which the trail follows the whole way.
Recommended Clothing: Exposed areas of sun (intense at this altitude) and areas of shade. Hot when the sun's out, cold when it's not.
Suggested Accessories: Highly recommend checking with Forest Service early in the season. We weren't sure if we'd need our snowshoes, but they recommended them - very glad they did! They also warned us that the bridges were out. Recommend trekking poles, particularly for creek crossings, especially when the water is fast. Bring closed-toed sandals or water shoes for creek crossings - bottom is rocky and slippery. Also useful for getting into the hot springs, but bottom of the big pool itself is sandy.

Filed By: Sarah (Colorado Springs, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: If John Denver thought West Virginia was “almost heaven”, surely the poor man had never hiked up the Conundrum Creek to the Conundrum Hot Springs. Scenic from trail head to hot springs, the trail delighted us by belying guidebook claims of an “arduous climb”. The hot springs was an inviting 100 degrees (we guess) with a view down the Conundrum valley to stop one’s heart. Other bathers were friendly and our timing was such that there were not too many “friendlies” to deal with. After being twice pelted with hail, we dragged our wrinkled hides from the water. Though during our descent we encountered approximately 25 pathetic souls that would be scrounging that night for a flat piece of earth on which to pitch a tent (not to mention the dozen or more already up at the springs), we relaxed in isolated splendor 2.5 miles downvalley. After somewhat of a struggle (due to high ambient humidity) we started a roaring blaze to warm our dinner, and later our toes. (And burn one unfortunate sock…) We slumbered away that evening to the sound of a gushing stream, and awoke the next morning to a robin’s egg sky for a brisk hike out.
Conditions: Quite mudddy. Intermitent hail/sleet.
Water Availability: More than enough.
Recommended Clothing: Don't even think about leaving your raingear at home. Bring bug-juice for camp.
Suggested Accessories: Digital camera. This trail is lovely from top to bottom.

Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Let me preface that this hike is beautiful and fun once you get to the top! I was told this was a "meandering" and "gradually" sloping hike. Which it is, but realistically, this hike is 8.5 miles with a 3000 ft gain. After 3 hrs I was ready to be done and still had an hour or so to go. If you are not an avid backpacker, however you reguarly hike and bike, pace yourself and be prepared for a long hike. You may be in shape, but now you are carrying a 30lb pack, up hill, for a few hours. If your back isn't used to carrying a 30-40 lb pack all summer, it sucks, but keep in mind the hot springs at the top and your car at the bottom :-)
Conditions: Start out early! Before 10am. While the sun was out it was hot and very buggy - bring bug spray. We started out around 1pm and by 4pm we were 40 min from the top, huddled in our tent, soaking wet because of the buckets of rain and hail falling from the sky with thunder and lightening adding to the ambiance. Remember this is summer in the Rockkies - YES it rains every afternoon and the trail gets muddy and the rocks and logs along the water crossings get slippery.
Recommended Clothing: This is a beautiful hike, but come prepared for all types of weather from very hot and buggy to rain and hail all in the same day.
Suggested Accessories: Leave the bathing suit at home - after 4 hrs of hiking you're just glad to not be carring a 30 lb pack; who cares about the naked people anyway? Make sure you have water proof boots for water crossings. Hiking sticks are useful, too. If you are only going for one night, keep it light!

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Way tougher than I thought. First let me say I am a 35 year old very avid hiker and mountain biker. The temps. that day were in the high 80's and the flies were loving it. They didn't land or bite, but they are very annoying when you are hot , carrying a 40lb pack and are not quite acclimated to the high altitude. This is not an easy hike. As far as the scenery goes, absolutely beautiful. There were wildflowers for the entire 8.5 miles to the springs. The basin is mostly exposed so you get great view's of the surrounding mountains.The trail goes in and out of the tree's also, so there is some relief from the sun every once and a while. Be ready at the 3rd creek crossing to get your feet wet. And very COLD. The snowmelt is very painful to cross. As you are getting close to the spring's, you will come to a sign that say's campfire site's. These sites are nice but are still quite a ways from the hot springs. We were so tired, we made the mistake of setting up camp here and had a long walk to the spring's each time. It would be best to hike until you see the Ranger cabin, then find a spot.
Conditions: There was still lots of snow in the upper basin creating great runoff.The hot springs were perfect. The best view from a tub you'll ever find.
Recommended Clothing: We hiked in shorts and teee shirts. Make sure you have sunscreen and a full brim hat to protect from the sun. The route is very exposed. We did not experience any rain showers or storms. People before us that had been up for 5 days said the same.
Suggested Accessories: No special gear needed. No need for a swim suit either. Pretty much everyone was in the buff.

View more Trip Reports.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
ICON Hiking & Walking Conundrum Creek Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Conundrum Creek Trail

Related Activities
Castle Creek Road - This drive is one of the most enjoyable drives in the Aspen area. The paved road follows Castle Creek 13 miles up the valley.

East Maroon Trail - This wilderness trail provides good backpacking opportunities and is also a good horseback trail.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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