Summary: Though the scenery at the parking lot for Maroon Lake may make you wonder how much better it could possibly get, this hike is still worth it. Follow the hikers trail that stays on the north side of Maroon Lake. This path is well traveled and is easy to follow. It will follow along the bottom of the valley up to Crater Lake. Not too long after hiking you will begin to gain elevation quickly. Don't give up though, it levels off and becomes a gentle stroll through a high altitude paradise. Crater Lake makes an excellent picnic spot, and don't forget your camera and extra film. The views of North Maroon Peak from this basin are some of the most photographed in the country.
Trailhead: During the heavy summer months the Maroon Bells trailhead can only be accessed by bus. The buses run from Memorial Day until Labor Day, daily. The first bus leaves Aspen at 8:30 am and the last bus leaves Maroon Lake at 5:00 PM. The last bus from Aspen leaves at 4:30 pm. Bus information can be obtained by calling the Roaring Fork Transit Agency at 970-925-8484, or the Aspen Ranger Station at 970-925-3445. The cost is $5 per person (round trip); and $3 for children under 16 and seniors (over 62). Tickets can be purchased in Aspen and then the bus will pick you up there. Get off the bus when it gets to Maroon Lake. Though unfortunate it costs money to get to Maroon Lake, this regulation has helped immensely in keeping the area pristine, plus the guided tour makes it worth the money.
Trail Guides for Crater Lake by the Maroon Bells:
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Aspen Ranger Station 970-925-3445
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joshua Friesema, who has posted 97 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by Bob F on 3/29/2012
We try to get out here a couple times a year. The last time we came was during the snow melt last year and we discovered a nice waterfall to the NE of Crater Lake. We followed a trail along a stream. It leads to a very steep uphill through the trees. If you make it to the top it opens up for great views of a tall waterfall. Don't know if it flows strong all year.
Reviewed by Finman on 10/2/2010
Our family has hiked this BEAUTIFUL hike every year for over a decade at the end of September....the Aspen leaves in the Fall never disappoint! We recommend the Little Nell or Sky for accommodations after.
Reviewed by Erica on 3/18/2008
A Colorado classic! Beautiful all along the way. For those of you not adjusted to the altitude, it can be quite a toughie. But well worth it! :)
Reviewed by Jane on 9/29/2007
The hike was beautiful - the aspens were absolutely beautiful and I was able to catch a glimpse of some wildlife too. I am not in the best of shape and am still recovering from a knee injury but was able to complete the hike without a problem. I highly suggest bringing some water and perhaps a walking/hiking stick. It's a great hike!
Reviewed by Jerry Held on 9/27/2007
Wow! There is a God, and I saw him in his creation.
Reviewed by Robyda on 6/23/2007
The hike to Crater Lake is a little challenging, but it is well worth it. Allow 2 to 3 hours for the round trip, depending on fitness levels of the slowest person in the group :) Once you reach Crater Lake, you can walk along the edge to see some nice waterfalls coming down the mountains. There is also very nice shaded sitting area about half a mile from the end of the hike. I would recommend each person use a hat and carry along a bottle of water per person and maybe a few snack bars.
Reviewed by RS on 9/6/2006
Fabulous! Great place to take fairly fit out of town guests:)
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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