Aspen Hiking: Aspen to Crested Butte

Aspen to Crested Butte Hike

If you’re looking for a true Aspen hiking experience, complete with mountain passes, wildflowers, and some serious elevation gain, consider the nearly 11-mile thru-hike from Aspen to Crested Butte. Thanks to the incredible views, contrasting red rock and Colorado blue skies, and beautiful flora along the hike, it’s a summertime Aspen Signature Properties staff favorite.

The Trail from Maroon Lake

Beginning in front of the towering Maroon Bells at Maroon Lake (elevation 9,580’) just outside of Aspen, the trail climbs and winds for nearly 6.5 miles to the top of West Maroon Pass (elevation 12,465’). You’ll hike through thick aspen trees, across rock fields and past scenic Crater Lake before reaching the apex of your hike. If you’re looking for a classic Colorado photo op, overlooking both the Aspen and Crested Butte trail sides at the top of West Maroon Pass is your place.

After a short break at the top, head down into the meadow toward Crested Butte and be prepared for what may be the most incredible display of wildflowers in all of Colorado. From here, it’s nearly all downhill as the trail meanders for about 4 miles toward the East Fork of West Maroon Trailhead at 10,448’.

What to Know

This is not an easy Aspen hiking trail, but it is rewarding. At about 10.45 miles from trailhead to trailhead, it’s a solid hike with steep switchbacks and a lot of exposure, even below tree line. It averages about 8 hours to complete, depending on the fitness of your group.

Summer weather in the mountains around Aspen often features afternoon thunderstorms, and it can quickly change from warm and sunny to downright cold and snowy at our high elevations. We highly recommend hitting the trailhead early in the day. If you’re bringing your furry friend, dogs must be kept on a leash. Don’t forget to practice “Leave no trace” guidelines, pack out what you pack in and read up on the full trail description or reach out to us before heading out on your adventure.

Trail from Aspen to Crested Butte

What to Bring

This hike is going to be a good workout. Bring snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, layers, a rain jacket, first aid kit and a topographic map, which you can pick up at the Ute Mountaineer. Don’t forget your dog bags and extra water for dogs.

Aspen to Crested Butte Trail Shuttle

Unless you’re planning on camping for a night during your stay in Aspen, we suggest one of the shuttle services that will pick you up at the East Fork of West Maroon Trailhead and bring you back the 3 hours by road to Aspen, such as Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle.

Have more questions about this hike or others? Just ask us! We’d be happy to give you more details and help in your planning.