West Maroon Pass, Maroon Snowmass Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
West Maroon Pass - 12.9 miles
Maroon Snowmass Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||12.9 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,580' - 12,465' (@ West Maroon Pass)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,885' net elevation gain (+3,340' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
West Maroon Pass - 12.9 Miles Round-Trip
West Maroon Pass (12,465') is located 6.45 miles from Maroon Lake in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. This stunning pass is the most commonly used route for thru-hikers between Aspen and Crested Butte, and the first encountered when traveling clockwise on the 4-Pass Loop.
The West Maroon Creek Trail rises steadily between iconic peaks into the capacious upper valley, where grades steepen on a ramp-like path etched in the west wall to the pass:
The trail begins on the north side of Maroon Lake to the Scenic Loop split (.3 miles). It rises away into thick aspens that break across an open rock field on the valley floor (1.2 miles : 10,070’).
Pick your way through talus to a crest, and drop to the Maroon Snowmass – West Maroon Creek Trail split (1.7 miles : 10,110’). Bear left and level up the west side of Crater Lake to the first group of campsites on the far end (2.0 miles : 10,110’).
The trail bends S-SW over the inlet and undulates across rockslides at the base of Maroon Bells, with high points offering great views back at Crater Lake and Pyramid Peak (3.0 miles : 10,295’). It moves quickly up valley under the Len Shoemaker Ridge and crosses east over West Maroon Creek (3.65 miles : 10,515’). Water can be swift during peak runoff, but is generally not an obstacle.
The trail rises steadily before clearing the balance of treeline with your first full view of the red-hued headwall and pass in the SW corner (4.45 miles : 10,880’).
It crosses West Maroon Creek back to the west side (4.5 miles : 10,905'), weaving through tall willow patches and flower-filled glades. Scan the upper valley for wildlife as you progress – you’ll likely see anything that moves in this big, open space.
Travel steepens in short intervals through 5.45 (11,525’) miles into an idyllic landscape under the pass. Views are astonishing as it climbs 945’ in the last mile on a ramp-like trail to West Maroon Pass (6.45 miles : 12,465’). Be mindful of footing on this narrow, potentially unstable approach.
The pass spans a small notch in the SW corner of the headwall with exceptional views across West Maroon Creek valley, and down East Fork drainage on the Crested Butte side. Expect crowds on the pass, since many hikers are generally traveling on the same time schedule.
ROUNDTRIP ELEVATION PROFILE | TRAIL MAP
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 05.911 W106 56.452 — 0.0 miles : Maroon Lake - Maroon Snowmass Trailhead
- N39 05.886 W106 56.761 — .3 miles : Split for Maroon Lake Scenic Loop
- N39 05.576 W106 57.373 — 1.0 miles : Rise up north side of West Maroon Creek
- N39 05.327 W106 57.962 — 1.7 miles : West Maroon Creek - Maroon Snowmass Trail split
- N39 05.145 W106 58.135 — 2.0 miles : Campsite access on west end of Crater Lake
- N39 04.836 W106 58.283 — 2.5 miles : Campsite access on west end of Crater Lake
- N39 04.460 W106 58.306 — 3.0 miles : Undulating travel at base of rock/avalanche slides
- N39 03.916 W106 58.296 — 3.65 miles : Cross wide section of creek to east side of valley
- N39 03.338 W106 58.568 — 4.45 miles : Cross creek to west side of valley
- N39 03.017 W106 58.787 — 5.0 miles : Steady climb through treeline
- N39 02.723 W106 59.119 — 5.5 miles : Grade steepens into alpine meadows and thick willow
- N39 02.390 W106 59.417 — 6.0 miles : Steep climb on ramp-like trail to pass
- N39 02.156 W106 59.836 — 6.45 miles : West Maroon Pass (12,465')
- The West Maroon Creek Trail is among the busiest in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Arrive early to secure campsites and avoid crowds.
- Exercise caution on loose, unstable rock when approaching and descending the pass, especially when wet.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. Self-registration permits are available at each trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits issued. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 10 individuals (or 15 with people + stock).
- Camping is not permitted in the alpine meadows below West Maroon Pass. Use designated site located at and below treeline.
- Due to heavy use, campfires are not permitted at Crater Lake.
- Campfires are otherwise permitted in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream. Additional location-specific restrictions may also apply.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
- Fishing is permitted at Maroon Lake, Crater Lake and along all related streams with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness.
- Due to heavy use, campfires are not permitted at Crater Lake.
- Camping is not permitted in the alpine meadows below West Maroon Pass. Designated sites are located at and below treeline.
Directions to Trailhead
The Maroon Lake - Maroon Snowmass Trailhead is located 9.2 miles west of Highway 82 on Maroon Creek Road. From Highway 82 in Aspen, follow the roundabout 1 mile NW of town onto Maroon Creek Road. Follow Maroon Creek Road to all designated parking lots. Call 970.925.3445 with specific questions about seasonal road access and shuttle schedules:
- There's a $10 fee to access the Maroon Lake - Maroon Snowmass Trailhead by car. The Welcome Station is located 4.7 miles up Maroon Creek Road. Use the self-pay station just past the Welcome Station if no attendant is on duty.
- Access by car is limited in the summer from 7am - 9am, and 5pm - 7pm. Visitors from 9am - 5pm must park at Aspen Highlands Village Parking Lot and take the Shuttle Bus to the trailhead. This parking area is located approximately 2 miles up Maroon Creek Road and is well-marked.
- Road access restrictions do not apply to overnight backpackers. Backpackers must pay the fee, but can proceed to the overnight parking lot and bypass the shuttle.
- There's a $6 fee to take the shuttle from Aspen Highlands Village ($3 on select weekdays). The shuttle operates everyday from mid-June to Labor Day.
- After Labor Day, the road is open to all cars Mon-Thurs; restrictions only apply Friday-Sunday. The shuttle runs Friday-Sunday as described above.
- Cars with infants (children under 2) and handicap plates are exempt from road restrictions, year round. The $10 access fee still applies.
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670