If time is limited, but you still want to fit in a hike that gives you some hint of Aspen's famed backcountry, wander ... More
Crater Lake Trail
If time is limited, but you still want to fit in a hike that gives you some hint of Aspen's famed backcountry, wander down this popular path. It is only 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) long, but offers some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country. The trail, which gains less than 500 feet (153 meters) in elevation, begins at Maroon Lake and winds through stands of aspens and pines before dropping down to Crater Lake which glistens at the foot of the famed Maroon Bells .
The scenery along the trail is excellent at the end of September when the leaves are fantastic with multiple variety of colors in the mountains. However, you must park your car at the Maroon Bells Parking Lot and take a bus tour into the White River National Forest System. The bus fare is $6/adult. The scenery at Crater Lake is not as good as Maroon Lake, but the trail itself is quite rewarding. You get good elevation and exercise. It's less than 2 miles one way, reminding us of part of Longs Peak Trail.
My first impression of Crater Lake was WOW. I felt like saying than ks to god right away for letting me be there. I loved it, the day was perfect and the colors in the water were amazing.I loved it and it's number one in my list.
The scenery in September/October is beyond words. Not only do the changing colors of the Aspen make this the perfect time of year, there are also fewer tourist and access is free. This is NOT an easy hike. At an altitude 10200 the oxygen is very thin, even for those of us who live and work in Aspen. This is not a smooth walking trail! The terrain is very rocky, and it is easy to twist an ankle or trip. There are no conveniences along the way, so bring and drink plenty of water, take advantage of the restrooms before starting up, and an energy snack isn't a bad idea. If anyone in your hiking group becomes lightheaded, develops a headache, nausea or cramps, you may want to consider ending the hike. These are signs of altitude sickness and can become severe.
Fantastic hike, fantastic views! However, trail is very rocky and is good for twisting ankles! Be careful and wear sturdy shoes, if not hiking boots. The views of Maroon Bells are better from Maroon Lake vs. Crater Lake.
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