Aspen to Crested Butte via West Maroon Pass
ElevationAscent: 5,221' 1,592 m
Descent: -3,756' -1,145 m
High: 12,351' 3,765 m
Low: 7,903' 2,409 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 49% (26°)
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“Run from downtown Aspen to Crested Butte by the Maroon Bells.”— Doug Bachman
The route turns to trails at Maroon Lake. If you time it right ,you can snap a picture of the mountains illuminated by the sun light reflected in the lake. After Maroon Lake, the route takes you up to Crater Lake and the base of North Maroon Peak via the West Maroon Trail.
Above Crater Lake there is treatable water (around 13.5 miles) as you make your way to West Maroon Pass. West Maroon Pass is part of the famous Four Pass Loop, so soak up the beauty and plan your next adventure as you climb to 12,500 feet.
As you continue down from West Maroon Pass, the route will eventually (18 miles) fork to the left and go down the valley. There is treatable water along this portion of the trail. The West Maroon Trail terminates in a parking lot (21.5 miles) and this is a good place to top off your water.
From here, the route takes the dirt road to the left and heads to the old mining town of Gothic. Stop for pictures and to top of your water at Emerald Lake (23 miles). There are livestock grazing along the route after this point so it is best to refill your water at Emerald Lake. In Gothic (28 miles), there is a visitors center that sells cold drinks, has bathrooms, and plenty of interesting information about Gothic. Gothic is a former mining town that is now home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
After Gothic the route continues down the dirt road to Crested Butte ski area. You can stop here for the night or continue to the town of Crested Butte. There are plenty of lodging and dining options in both places.
For the return to Aspen, you can go back the same way or pick one of the other routes such as East Maroon Pass, Triangle Pass / Conundrum Creek Trail #1981, or the Grand Traverse course. All of the routes mentioned will not leave you disappointed. There are also shuttle services that will drive passengers back to Aspen.
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