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Use the trail guide for Maroon-Snowmass Trail to Buckskin Pass until you reach the pass. From the top of the pass, the trail begins a long steep descent switchbacking through an alpine meadow. As it heads towards timberline, it crosses two streams. Camping can be found just after the stream crossings.
The trail continues its steep descent through a forest towards an intersection for the Maroon-Snowmass Trail where the trail bears left. 200 yards further the trail crosses a small stream. Continue straight to Snowmass Lake. When the trail intersects again, the right branch heads towards campsites, the main trail continues from the east side of the lake ascending to a ridge above the lake.
From the top of the ridge, the trail ascends switchbacking through alpine meadows towards Trail Rider Pass.From the top of Trail Rider, the descending trail is clearly visible as it wends its way around a small lake towards a ridge on the left. Descending the ridge the trail crosses several streams before it intersects with the Geneva Lake Trail on the right. Stay left. For the next 1-1/2 miles the trail descends steeply through open meadows and aspens.
At the next trail marker, take the left fork which enters a spruce forest. In 3/4 of a mile, the trail crosses the North Fork of the Crystal River. Just before a small clearing the trail branches. The right branch leads to camping at Love's Cabin area. Stay Left. In about 1 mile a magnificent waterfall can be seen and the trail begins ascending steeply following the switchbacks along the path of the rapidly falling stream.
About 1-1/2 miles further, good campsites can be found as the trail follows the river through a spruce forest. Remember to stay 100 feet from the waters's edge. The trail's steep ascent through the forest becomes more gradual as it enters a zone of wildflowers and alpine shrubs, As the trail climbs to Frigid Air Pass, the ascent becomes steeper and is aided by switchbacks. From the pass, Fravert Basin can be seen as well as the back of Maroon Bells.
Frigid Air Pass is descended through a series of very steep switchbacks which lead to a steep incline at the bottom of which is a small pond. Straight ahead is a broad saddle leading to Hasley Basin. The trail continues straight to a series of ridges after which it steeply descends for about 1 mile through fields of wildflowers onto the valley floor. Here it intersects with the West Maroon Trail which heads left towards the West Maroon Pass 1 mile ahead. A scattering of campsites can be found on shelves during this ascent.
Begin ascending West Maroon Trail through bed of magnificent wildflowers until a steep scree field is reached. Here follow the trail via steep switchbacks to the top of the pass. The pass is descended by a long traverse which leads into steep switchbacks to a meadow of willow and tundra followed by a stream crossing. Soon after the crossing, the trail enters the forest and good camping can be found.
As the trail emerges from the forest, another stream needs to be crossed. This crossing is fairly wide and can be tricky during high spring runoffs. If this is the case, a walking stick would be advised. This crossing is 3 miles from Maroon Lake. The trail on the other side crosses through forests onto scree fields and then emerges onto the far side of Crater Lake. The Crater Lake campsites are only in designated areas. All sites are clearly marked and only gas stoves can be used.
Follow the trail to the Crater Lake bulletin board at the beginning of the lake and take the right fork. From here it is only 1.8 miles to the Maroon Lake parking and whatever reward you want for a well completed trek.Directions
Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left at the light at Maroon Creek Road. Drive 9-1/2 miles on Maroon Creek Road to the overnight parking lot at Maroon Lake. This is located on the left side of the road. Access to this lot after 8:30 AM requires a stop at the Forest Service Entrance Station on Maroon Creek Road for an overnight pass. If the lot is full, you will need to return to town and enter by bus.Highlights
An industrious backpacking trip located in the beautiful Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness that is routed over four mountain passes (Buckskin - 12,500 ft.; Trail Rider - 12,420 ft.; Frigid Air - 12,415 ft.; West. Maroon - 12,500 ft.). The variety of terrain encompasses scenic forests, mid-to late summer wildflowers, challenging river crossings, and provides spectacular views of the Maroon Bells and numerous other peaks of the Elk Mountain Range.