“A brutal trail up the difficult 14er Pyramid Peak.”
— Tyler Prince
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Located in the Maroon Bells
Wilderness with access from Aspen, restrictions in this area vary year-round. Due to overly curious bears, camping at the upper Crater Lake is often off limits, even with a bear can. There is a pay-to-park ranger station on the way up the road, with a self-serve station if you drive up at strange hours.
Dogs cannot hike Pyramid Peak
. It is technical enough to be regarded as a climb more than a hike, and a helmet is required for the upper 1000 ft.
Due to steep grades and loose rocks, this is not a runnable trail.
From the Maroon Snowmass Trail
, turn left below Crater Lake onto Pyramid Peak
Trail. Signs are poor - just look for a rocky, flat area, with Pyramid Peak
rising up on the left.
Continue through a flat area before the going gets steep. Hike up steep switchbacks before reaching a boulder field below 12,000 ft, known by hikers as "the amphitheater."
This is where the real hike starts. There are some cairns in the boulder field, and the CFI has done a good job building the trail. Continue up the rocks and to the left to find a gully to the east of Pyramid's impressive north face.
The next thousand feet is brutal. This gully is so steep even the fittest hikers will likely have to stop for a breather every few minutes. You'll gain 1,000 ft in about 0.2 miles, topping out on a ridge.
From here, things are much more fun. Turn right and climb over several gendarmes, or traverse them just to the right. Once the grades gets steep again, your goal is to search for cairns to the left of the ridge. Traverse along loose rocks. In a few minutes, come to a spot referred to as the "leap of faith." It's not a leap - just a big step between rocks. Immediately cross some narrow ledges, clinging to the rocks to your right to avoid the exposure to your left. This area is short and underwhelming. Don't be scared!
From here, turn right up a short red gully and follow cairns to the "green gully." The rock here has an unmistakeable green tint, and can't be missed. Scramble up solid rock in this gully for about 300 ft before finding cairns below the summit. Continue scrambling fun class 3-4 to reach a false summit. There are some fun class 5 moves near here that provide a fun challenge for the more experienced climber. Once on the false summit, it's a 1-2 minute walk up to the true peak. Stop and enjoy the views...it's a long way back down!
Flora & Fauna
Expect wildflowers and mountain goats up high. The latter kick down lots of rocks...be careful, and wear a helmet!