Hike Crested Butte to Aspen

At less than 11 miles between trailheads, a hike from Aspen to Crested Butte (or the reverse) is one of the most memorable and popular trips taken at the peak of summer and early fall. Hiking time will vary depending on your fitness level and group size, but expect to spend at least 6 to 10 hours of the day accomplishing this feat. Plenty of food, water, clothing layers, and a first aid kit are highly recommended.

Lodging:  The Nordic Inn in Crested Butte has partnered with the Limelight Hotel in Aspen to offer discounted stays in their luxurious accommodations for all hikers. Call (970) 349-5542 or visit NordicInnCB.com for details.

 CB to AspenAspen to CB
Highlights:Aspen, Wildflowers, Mountain VistasAspen, Wildflowers, Mountain Vistas
Difficulty:StrenuousMore Strenuous
Length:10.2 miles10.2 miles
Approx. Time:6-8 hours7-9 hours
Elevation Gain:2,357 feet3,265 feet
Max Elevation:12,490 feet12,490 feet
Trailhead Elevation:10,432 feet9,572 feet
Travel Time to TH:45 minutes40 minutes
Click photos to view gallery:

Driving Directions/Transportation

From Crested Butte – West Maroon Trailhead: (SUV recommended): If you choose to drive, take Gothic Road (Route 135) north past the ski resort and over into the valley. Follow the road 14 miles (shortest route) from town past Emerald Lake and over Schofield Pass. Shortly after the pass, the well established parking lot and trailhead [A] is on the right side.

*Do not use Google or Map Quest as they may be inaccurate. Use textual driving instructions provided.

From Aspen – Maroon Lake Trailhead:  The upper road to the trailhead is restricted to private vehicles from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during peak summer season except for disabled people, campers, families with young children in car seats, and outfitters. We recommend using the bus service. If you choose to drive, take route 82 west out of town. At the traffic circle take the 2nd exit onto Maroon Creek Rd (route 13) and continue up the road for 9.4 miles. The parking lot is just before Maroon Lake and tends to fill up for overnight parking in the summer.

*Do not use Google or Map Quest as they may be inaccurate. Use textual driving instructions provided.


IMG_1875From the Crested Butte side, the trail starts off by winding through forest next to the Crystal River. A decaying cabin [2] is near the end of the forest. Just past the cabin is also where the trail forks. Bear right at the fork and enter the amazing fields of wildflowers. The next junction is nearly 2 miles ahead and hard to spot.  Look for a short wooden sign underneath the brush [3] and take the right fork toward West Maroon Pass.

Continue up the valley ascending a gradual incline until you reach the next signed junction for Frigid Air Pass [4]. West Maroon Pass is straight ahead. From here the trail gets steeper as you get closer to the pass [6]. The last quarter mile is particularly strenuous, but the effort is well worth the reward. From the summit, enjoy breath-taking views in every direction. The pass is small with dramatic rock pinnacles on either side.

The trail descending to Aspen starts out very steep and narrow, with slippery areas along the side of the slope [9]. The gradient gradually gets easier as elevation is lost, but most of the trail all the way to Maroon Lake, is very rocky. There are three crossings of Maroon Creek (your shoes/feet may get wet) as well. The narrow valley opens up again as you approach Crater Lake [11].

Walk past the base of Maroon and North Maroon Peak known as the Maroon Bells. These 14,000 ft peaks are the most photographed mountains in North America! The trail undulates as you approach and pass Crater Lake. The last stretch enters some aspen forest and finally exits at Maroon Lake. Turn around and take some of your own iconic photos [14].


Important Notes

  • Starting from the Aspen side, just follow these directions in reverse.
  • Start early to avoid afternoon summer thunderstorms.
  • Don’t forget you’re in the middle of the mountains, so you might not have much cell phone service. Plan early and be prepared.


Ensure you’re dressed comfortably for hiking with the latest Patagonia, Icebreaker, and more active apparel found at Chopwood Mercantile on Elk Ave. Owners Travis and Lisa are also happy share their expertise and answer any questions you have about hiking in and around Crested Butte.

Click the photos below to view the  gallery:

Trail Map & Profile (one-way)


More Hiking Guides:


Featured Partner

Crested Butte Inns & Lodges: Nordic Inn

Nordic Inn

14 Treasury Rd, Mt. CB  •  Map
(970) 349-5542  •   Website

Features: Hot tub • WiFi • Pet friendly • Continental Breakfast • Free Mountain Parking

Having just undergone a recent renovation, this inn greets you with a big fireplace in the lobby and modern decor in the rooms.  Located on the mountain, down the street from the slopes, the Nordic moniker is not just referring to skiing either.  Guest rooms have a Scandinavian theme, some with hardwood floors and ceilings.  There are ADA designated rooms available as well.


Featured Shop


Chopwood Mercantile

(970) 349-2446 • Website
Hours: 10am – 6pm, Sun 10-4
120 Elk Ave  •  Map


What sets Chopwood apart from your typical outdoor retail store is their passion. They can offer insights on all the specific gear, equipment, and even the local areas they’ve tested them on. Looking for the latest trail info? Stop by and find out over a free cup of coffee. Then browse the latest Patagonia, Icebreaker, and other gear for your adventures.