Crested Butte Trails: West Maroon Pass

In Hiking guide by Josh Futterman

With a little luck and good timing, West Maroon Pass can offer a hike flanked by dense fields of stunning wildflowers. This popular pedestrian ‘highway’ from Crested Butte to Aspen will also reward you with spectacular views from the summit in every direction.

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Update 7/4: The snow plug at Emerald Lake is melted and Schofield pass is open. 

Highlights:Wildflowers, Mountain Vistas
Difficulty:Moderate with a Strenuous Finish
RT Length:7.8 miles
Approx. Time:4.5 hours
Elevation Gain:2,312 feet
Max Elevation:12,490 feet
Trailhead Elevation:10,432 feet
Travel Time to TH:45 minutes

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Directions

SUV recommended: From the Town of Crested Butte, take Gothic Road (Route 135) north 14 miles over Schofield Pass. Shortly after the pass there is a large parking lot and the trailhead [1] is on the right side.  Map (continue past the marker on the map on rte 317 toward the trailhead/parking lot)

Route

This is the same popular trail that goes all the way to Aspen. The trail starts winding through forest next to Crystal River. A decaying cabin [2] is near the end of the forest. Just past there is also where the trail forks. Bear right at the fork and enter the amazing fields of wildflowers [4].

The next junction is just under 2 miles in and hard to spot. Look for a short wooden sign underneath the brush [5] and take the right fork toward West Maroon Pass. Continue up the valley ascending a gradual incline until the next signed junction for Frigid Air Pass [7]. West Maroon Pass is straight ahead.

From here the trail gets steeper as you get closer to the pass. The last quarter mile is particularly strenuous [11], but the effort is well worth the reward.  From the summit, enjoy awe-inspiring views in every direction. Look back down on your progress [12] and over the other side toward the Maroon Bells [14]. The pass is small with dramatic rock pinnacles on either side [13]. Take a long rest and eventually head back down the way you came.

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Please don’t pick, cut, or walk on wildflowers or other plants. Removing wildflowers from the wild can adversely affect pollinators and other animals that depend on that species for food and cover and affect the flowers long-term survival in that location.

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Practice leave no trace. Trash and human waste can take years to decompose in an alpine environment. Pack it in, pack it out with all trash. Try and use the restroom at lower elevations, for human waste dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep.

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For longer hikes its a good idea to carry a few extra things in your pack. Make sure to bring extra food and water, rain gear, a map or gps, sun protection, and a flashlight in case your hike goes late. More information on what to pack can be found here

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Weather in the mountains can change very fast. During the summer months it is common to have thunderstorms developing during the afternoon in the high country. Check the weather forecast before you go. Keep your eyes on the clouds and know when to turn back.

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Trail Map & Profile

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Enjoying this trail? Help support the people who maintain it. Donate to the Crested Butte Conservation Corps.

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