Crater Lake Trail, Aspen, CO

A gentle 1.8 mile climb to an intimate view of the popular Maroon Bells from the lapping shores of Crater Lake.
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A gentle 1.8 mile climb to an intimate view of the popular Maroon Bells from the lapping shores of Crater Lake.

If you're itching to stretch you legs while in Aspen or Snowmass, and don't feel like tramping up the ski slopes, you can catch the bus to the Maroon Bells for a scenic day hike. Heck, even the bus ride is super scenic. As it turns out, I cycled up from Aspen before hitting this hike and that just proves it easily falls on the super moderate side of difficulty.

Paved path ways from both the parking lot and the bus stop lead to Maroon Lake, around which there are some scenic trails. Just follow the signs to Crater Lake and you'll soon find yourself on the mild switchbacks rising above Maroon Lake into the thick stands of Aspen. Be sure to look back on occasion to check out the view, but if you forget, you'll see it on the way back down.

Shortly after the switchbacks, you'll clear from the thick of the evergreen trees, the trail will ungulate some over the rocks that give the Rocky Mountains their name and maybe an occasional snow patch until you make a gentle dip down to the grassy shore of Crater Lake. If the wind is calm, and the lake like glass, you'll double your viewing pleasure with the 14,000-foot Maroon Bells reflecting in the lake.

If the sun is beating down pretty hard, there are a few trees to find some shade in, but be sure to pack some sunscreen and a hat and enjoy a nap next to the lake before heading back down.