As many of you that have been following me for some time know by now, my favorite hike in Colorado is Maroon Bells. Just to make sure we are on the same page from the get go: Maroon Bells is an area and within Maroon Bells are dozens of trails. It has the most beautiful view and is well worth the drive out to Aspen. Ticket reservation for Maroon Bells were released yesterday (August 1st, 2020)for fall so I thought I might as well put together a blog post for those interested in making the trip. If not save this blog post for the next trip you make out to Colorado. Maroon Bell is beautiful all year long, however, NOTHING beats the fall. We went during the first week of fall and most of the trees had changed by this time and the weather was beautiful. Colorado falls are very short, typically two weeks but then again every year can be different. The leaves being changing last week of September, first week of October. For example, in 2020 I would recommend going anytime during September 30th through October 4th. The year we went, the week following the dates we were there, it snowed several feet.
WHEN TO GO:
At the time I write this post, you can book a specific time to go see Maroon Bells but I will explain my experience without the reservation system. As I always do, I highly recommend going to Maroon Bells as early as you can. Like every hiking location there’s limited parking and when we went in the fall, the parking was almost completely full by 6-6:30am. After parking you’ll enter the lobby of the main building where you purchase your tickets to get on the shuttle bus to the trailhead. The bus ride up to the trailhead is about 25 minutes. *UPDATE: you must purchase this shuttle bus ticket ahead of time as limited spots are available due to COVID-19 restrictions. CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR HIKE TO MAROON BELLS. **If you are wanting to just visit/hike, you will need just the shuttle bus reservation. All other reservations are for camping.
WHAT TO BRING:
Be sure to pack water and snacks to have while you’re up on this hike. Make sure you dress for weather in the 40’s low 50’s. If the sun is out it will feel warmer. When you get to the trailhead where the bus drops you off, there will be one trail that is paved leading you down to a small body of water. If you follow that trail you will come to a point where you can hike around the lake on Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail or head up to Crater Lake trail(Do not get this confused with Crater Lakes Trail).
Scenic Loop Trail: 1.9 Miles
I recommend you first make the quick 1.9 mile loop around Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail. This is a fairly easy trail that most will be able to hike quickly. (SHOWN BELOW)
Crater Lake Trail: 3.8 Miles (SHOW BELOW)
If you’re not up for it or only feel like doing one hike go strait up Crater Lake Trail which is a ranked by All Trails App as moderate. Crater Lake trail is our FAVORITE trail. This is an out&back trail that has an absolutely gorgeous view once you reach the end. It will take you to a lake (or empty lake). This is a popular spot for moose. You will want to take many pictures here. I do recommend wearing some sort of hiking boots on this trail because it can get rocky at a few points. There is also a small half mile trail to a waterfall right before you hit Crater Lake. We didn’t have time to hike this but I highly recommend hiking to these falls.
When you head back to the trail head where the bus dropped you off, there will be a bus every 10-15 minutes or so to shuttle you back down to the parking lot.
Tom Blake Trail Loop: 4.9 Miles (SHOW BELOW)
We hiked on Tom Blake Trail Loop. This is NOT inside Maroon Bells and is right outside Snowmass Village. This is a great trial to do the day before or after you hike Maroon Bells because you do not need a reservation. The Aspens were STUNNING.
WHERE TO STAY:
While there, we found it more budget friendly to stay in Snowmass Village. It’s only about a 30 minute drive to Maroon Bells from Snowmass Village and about 10 minutes from Aspen. There are also a lot of fun trails that you can do near that area if you have extra time to hike. If it is in your budget Aspen is a great place to stay. The only thing we did not like about Aspen is that it was pricey.
**Another great option is to spend one night in Aspen and then drive 1 hour to Glenwood Springs and stay there. This is a big town with a bunch of restaurants. We stopped here to eat on the way back from our Lake Powell trip. This is a popular spot for white water rafting and is right off the interstate.
Meat and Cheese:
Time to talk about food. After this hike you will most likely be hungry. Theres a place in Aspen I would recommend for lunch called Meat and Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop. It’s a little pricey but the food is fresh and tastes great!