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

Quick Facts

Crater Lake Trail

Average Time: 1 - 1 1/2 Hours
Beginning Elevation: 9,580 Feet (2986.3 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 10,076 Feet (3140.9 Meters)
Elevation Gain: 496 Feet (154.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 10,076 Feet (3140.9 Meters)
Length: 1.8 Miles (3.0 Kilometers) one way (2.8 km)
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Usage: Extremely Heavy
USGS Maps: Maroon Bells

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The West Maroon Trail and Maroon Snowmass Trail are one until they fork at Crater Lake.  These are two of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area.
Copyright: - US Forest Service
The West Maroon Trail and Maroon Snowmass Trail are one until they fork at Crater Lake. These are two of the most heavily used trails in the Aspen area.
This trail serves as a short and very popular day hike, or starting point for extended backpacking trips into the wilderness. The trail starts at the Maroon Lake parking area traversing through a meadow to the far end of Maroon Lake to a Forest Service informational bulletin board. There are 2 ways to reach Crater Lake, to the right is the Maroon-Snowmass Trail and to the left is the Maroon Creek Trail. The Maroon-Snowmass Trail climbs through the aspens to the lake. The left trail or Scenic Trail, follows the river (crosses 2 bridges) then climbs steeply to merge with the Maroon-Snowmass trail.

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.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: May through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail Early in the season.) .

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: Aaron (Milwaukie, Oregon)
Time of Day: 10 AM
Length of Time: 2 1/2 HRS
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The first two weeks in September is best for viewing the changing color of the Aspens. Late morning to early afternoon on a sunny day, presents the best light for taking pictures due to the deep valley and the steep mountain terrain, that shades the Maroon Lake and Aspen groves. The trail is well marked, but there are no facilities on the trail or at Crater Lake. Take some trail mix or protein bars. Special attention must be given to the high altitude, so don't let it fool you. This is not a cake walk, so don't become easily discouraged, for you will be richly rewarded for your effort.
Conditions: The trail was a moderate up hill grade most of the 1.8 miles on uneven loose rock. The trail was dry and it was shaddy a portion of the time.
Water Availability: Avoid against dehydration especially at high altitudes. Take a quart of water to be safe, for there is no water sources along the trail or at the lake.
Recommended Clothing: Good shoes are a must to guard against ankle injury on the uneven loose rock. Were layers of clothing and be prepared for late afternoon thunderstorms and cooler temperatures that change rapidly at this high altitude.
Suggested Accessories: Be sure to take a camera.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
ICON Hiking & Walking Crater Lake Trail
ICON Horseback Riding West Maroon Creek 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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