When my hometown friends Frank and Grayson asked if I wanted to join in the annual hike from Aspen to Crested Butte I said absolutely! Little did I know that it would involve water hazards, an avalanche, and a plane ride.
The West Maroon Trail is normally an 11 mile hike but because of an avalanche that hasn’t melted Scofield Pass is closed near Emerald Lake on the Crested Butte side. That adds an extra 1.5 miles to the hike.
We start at Maroon Lake that was created by Ice-age glacier, as many high altitude lakes are created. At 7:30am we’re off. Our first stop is at 8:11am when we arrive at Crater Lake about 1.5 miles into hike.
At 9:15am it’s our first big stream crossing. That’s where I started wishing I’d packed water shoes! In a pinch I ditched my socks and went through the cold water with shoes on. Did the same for the next big stream about 20 minutes later. It’s an interesting hike as the terrain changes from rocky and steep to more jungle-like and flat then to wide open combination of rocks, green landscape and snow to all rocks on the final ascent to the lunch spot on top of the saddle for an 11am lunch spot at top right at 12, 500 feet and over 6 miles of hike done.
We headed down at 11:25am. It was cold at first in the shade and wind but this side was very Julie Andrews from "The Sound of Music" like with wildflowers everywhere. I’d never seen anything like it as it seemed the wildflowers got better and better as we continued on the hike. It was field after field of waist deep wildflowers in colors from yellow to purple.
One group ran the second half of hike in order to make it on time to our transportation bus. Apparently Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle won’t wait on you more than 15 minutes if you miss your pick-up time.
The second group arrived at the trailhead at 1:08pm. Since Schofield Pass was closed we started the trek down the road to the other side of the avalanche….only to realize we had to hike back up hill! On the way we passed Emerald Lake then walked over the avalanche that hadn’t melted. It was rather entertaining watching cyclists trying to get across the avalanche with their bikes and in bike shoes! We arrived to the shuttle bus at 1:55pm. After waiting about 20 minutes we were able to jump on a shuttle bus and head in to Crested Butte.
Here’s my slideshow of the West Maroon Trail. Enjoy the amazing scenery!
After a little down time and showers it was time to head out to enjoy Crested Butte and celebrate. There was an arts fair going on in Crested Butte so it was a busy weekend to be there. We started at Brick Oven Pizzeria. I’m a pretty easy person to dare to do something. So when I got dared to "owl" (it’s like the internet planking craze but you’re suppose to crouch down on your toes with arms by your side looking like a perched owl) in a tree in the middle of the restaurant of course I attempted it. After a nice relaxing time with the sun going down we made a quick stop at Dogwood Cocktail Cabin then over to Ginger Cafe for dinner. It was a fantastic Saturday evening in Crested Butte.
On Sunday we headed over to East Side Bistro for brunch. We sat outside on the patio since it was a beautiful summer morning. I’m a huge fan of chilquiles and will order them whenever I can. These were different but good. After brunch we took a nice stroll through the town soaking up the great weather and enjoyed the farmers market and arts fair while a few folks caught a plane back to Aspen. My friend Frank and I took the last of three flights. We had some fly back and some do the two hours forty-five minute drive back to Aspen.
We were suppose to leave at 1:30pm but because of some gusty winds it was more like 2:15pm. It’s a short 15 minute flight. With the afternoon thermals it’s a bit bumpy. As we fly by Crested Butte mountain we’re only about 500 feet away from it. Then we head through the mountain range, see the Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake, then land back at the Aspen airport. Definitely a great way to get back to Aspen!
Here’s my “Explore Colorado” segment on the West Maroon Trail that aired in Good Day Colorado on Fox 31 Denver.