I’d heard a lot about the trail from Crested Butte to Aspen, but was hesitant because I’m a moderate-level hiker, and I heard that the trail is really strenuous. It was definitely a work out, but absolutely worth it.
I took the shuttle to the trailhead as early as I could. The hike to Aspen, I had been warned, could take up to 10 hours. I planned to camp on the other side, and wanted to have plenty of time to get over the pass and set up.
The trail kicks off, winding through a lot of forestation that runs along a river. There’s an old cabin that marks the first fork in the trail. I hung a left and was blown away by the sprawling fields of wildflowers. I got a little lost at the next junction, which was probably two miles up from when I first saw the fields. The sign is really small, but if you look for it, you’ll know to hang another right toward West Maroon Pass. This is where I started breathing a little harder. Coming up the valley, there’s a gradual incline leading to a small pass, just before West Maroon. It gets pretty steep, but the views are a generous reward.
On the decline toward Aspen, the path got really steep and narrow. It’s a bit rocky and slippery – I was glad I brought my first aid kit (Didn’t have to use it though. Win.) and a solid pair of boots. The valley sort of ebbed and flowed and opened up near the lake, and I could see the famous Maroon Bells. Apparently they’re the most photographed mountains in North America, and I can see why!
A staggering 8 hours later, I arrived at the end of the trail, feeling very accomplished and very ready for a beer and a good night’s sleep. I camped that night, and took the shuttle back to Crested Butte the next day around 1pm.
Bring a couple of cameras. Preferably disposable. I only brought my iPhone, and it experienced some technical difficulties that made picture-taking sort of impossible.