The Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail is an easy, short trail meandering along the creek.
Maroon Lake Scenic Trail: Getting there
From the roundabout west of Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road.
Check the sign just past the roundabout for road closure status. During busy times & the summer, cars are only permitted past the guard gate to the Maroon Lake parking lot before 9am or after 5pm. On these days, park at Aspen Highlands and take the Maroon Bells bus (runs approx. every 20 minutes). If driving, a $10 fee applies for a 5-day pass.
Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail: The hike
From the parking lot, follow the trail to the lake.
The trail continues to the right of the lake. At the “Scenic Loop Trail or Crater Lake” marker, keep left.
Cross the bridge over Maroon Creek and continue on the trail.
The trail forms a loop through the meadow and trees.
The trail is approximately 1 mile roundtrip.
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Smuggler Mountain is a popular hike with the trailhead located in east Aspen.
Smuggler Mountain: Getting there
From Main Street & Mill (corner of the Hotel Jerome), take Mill to Gibson. Turn right & at the Y intersection, keep left onto South Avenue. Turn right onto Park Circle to Smuggler Mountain Road. There is parking on the right & and a 2nd lot is just above.
Smuggler Mountain: The hike
The Smuggler Mountain trail is a fairly steep 1.5 mile climb that ends at the observation deck overlooking Aspen.
Smuggler Mine sits at the base of the mountain. The trail is actually a multi-purpose dirt road shared by hikers, bikers, runners & dogs and is quite heavily used, especially on the weekends.
At the top is an observation deck with stunning views of Aspen.
Generally referred to as the local’s mountain, Aspen Highlands is where we’ve been known to spend most of our winter days.
Aspen Highlands is the most laid-back of the four Aspen mountains and has a wide-variety of skiing, from bumps to trees to Highland Bowl.
We tend to think of the mountain in the areas served by the lifts…
Exhibition lift is a high-speed quad from the base to mid-mountain. The runs served by Exhibition are mostly blues & greens, but there are also some good places to play in the trees.
The Thunderbowl lift is just to the left of Exhibition and heads up to the thigh-burners, Golden Horn and Thunderbowl.
Cloud Nine provides access to the center and west side of the mountain. Many days we will simply work our way from the west to the east, run by run.
The views of the Maroon Bells and the Roaring Fork Valley are amazing on this side of the mountain and the skiing is a spectacular mix of intermediate to advanced runs, with a variety of terrain including some nice fast groomers, trees and moguls.
Loge Peak lift provides access to a mix of blues, blacks and double blacks. On the front-side, blues such as Broadway, Hayden and Meadows head back down to the Loge lift. Off the east side are the steep Temerity & Steeplechase double black runs, with access back via the Deep Temerity lift, which also serves Highland Bowl.
Aspen Highlands: Hiking the Bowl
Highland Bowl is home to inbounds backcountry skiing, with 1,500+ vertical foot runs starting from 12,392 feet at the summit, with pitches close to 50 degrees.
The hike to the bowl is a 782 vertical ft hike at altitude that takes about 45 minutes from the top of the Loge Peak lift, with the reward of incredible 360 degree views.
Descent is via one of the 15 designated runs, which are named after ski wax colors, to the base of the Deep Temerity lift.
Aspen Highlands: Eats
Aspen Highlands has multiple drinking and dining options, each with great views, food & fun.
Just off the top of the Cloud Nine lift is Cloud Nine Bistro. Lunch on the deck on a sunny day at Cloud Nine is heavenly. The views of the Maroon Bells are spectacular and the food, while a little pricey, is superb. Cloud Nine Bistro is not to be missed.
At mid-mountain is the Merry Go Round. Following a facelift in 2011, the Merry Go Round is much brighter and warmer, delivers good food and now has a nice bar with views up the runs below the Cloud Nine lift. The Portobello burger is super (not really a burger) – and the Wednesday burger and beer special is a great deal.
At the foot of the mountain is Out of Bounds. Good food, great bartenders and, if you are there in the afternoon (as we are most days), grab a beer & and a seat on the patio and watch the ski team practice on Thunderbowl.
Also at the base of Highlands, are Highlands Pizza, with a full bar, really good pizza, sandwiches, salads & burgers & great happy hour specials, and Willow Creek Bistro at the Ritz Carlton Club, serving American fare in a slightly more upscale environment.
Aspen Highlands: The Facts
Aspen Highlands starts at a base elevation of 8040 ft (2,451 m) and tops out at the top of Highland Bowl at 12,392 ft (3,777 m).
It’s 1,028 acres (416 hectares) contain 118 trails, served by 5 lifts.
18% of the trails are green, 30% are blue, 16% black & 23% are double black.
The Maroon Bells Crater Lake Trail is a moderate trail up to Crater Lake and the West Maroon Trail.
Maroon Bells Crater Lake Trail: Getting there
From the roundabout west of Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road. Check the sign just past the roundabout for road closure status. During busy times & the summer, cars are only permitted past the guard gate to the Maroon Lake parking lot before 9am or after 5pm.
On these days, park at Aspen Highlands and take the Maroon Bells bus (runs approx. every 20 minutes). If driving, a $10 fee applies for a 5 day pass.
Maroon Bells Crater Lake Trail: The hike
From the parking lot, follow the trail to the lake. The trail continues to the right of the lake. At the “Scenic Loop Trail or Crater Lake” marker, keep right.
The first part of the hike is a steady climb up switchbacks through the trees.
As the top of the switchbacks, you will pass through a rock field. Crater Lake is just beyond the rock field.
The Crater Lake trail is an approximate 3 mile roundtrip from Maroon Lake.
If you are feeling up for some more hiking, go past the lake to the West Maroon Trail.
West Maroon Trail is a 10.2 mile hike to Crested Butte over West Maroon Pass. Adding on an additional mile or so from Crater Lake before turning back is a beautiful additional hike in mostly solitude.
Aspen Mountain is the mountain that people visiting Aspen for the first time have pictured in their minds before they come to Aspen.
Sitting high above the town of Aspen in its regal splendor, Aspen Mountain is a constant reminder that Aspen is first and foremost a ski town.
Not a mountain for beginners, Aspen Mountain has something to keep intermediate skiers and up very happy, from bumps to cruising down Ruthie’s Run to the steeps of Bell Mountain.
With a mix of casual to intense skiers, the glamorous wanting to be seen, people-watchers wanting to see the glamorous, and locals getting in a few turns on their lunch break, Aspen Mountain delivers variety, fun and some really great skiing.
Aspen Mountain: Eats
As one would expect, the dining options on Aspen Mountain are upscale and offer a variety of food & beverage options.
At the top of the gondola sits the historic Sundeck. The Sundeck was originally built in 1948 and, in its current form, is a large, rustic structure with amazing views of the Elk Mountains and Highlands Bowl. Dining options include pizza, wok specialities, stews, soups, salads & sandwiches and the Sundeck has a full bar.
Bonnie’s is located upper-mid mountain, just below Tourtelotte Park, and serves a wide-range of fare from soups to burgers to dumplings, but is most well-known for their white-bean chili, fabulous two-tiered outdoor deck, and scrumptious apple strudel.
Situated at the base of Aspen Mountain next to the gondola, Ajax Tavern is quintessential Aspen après, with lots of people in their finest watching other people in their finest.
But, not to be overlooked, Ajax Tavern serves up some really fine food & drink for lunch or dinner (year round by the way).
Ajax has a great burger, the truffle fries are amazing and there’s really no better way to spend an afternoon than with a bottle of wine and some pâté on the patio.
Aspen Mountain: The Facts
Aspen Mountain starts at a base elevation of 7,945 ft (2,422 m) and rises to a summit elevation of 11,212 ft (3,418 m).
It’s 675 acres (273 hectares) contain 76 trails, served by 8 lifts.
There are no greens on Aspen Mountain. 48% of the trails are blue, 26% black & 26% are double black. The longest run is 3 miles (4.83 km).
Each year Aspen celebrates the 4th of July with a full day of activities and fun old-fashioned style!
Boogie’s Diner Buddy Charity Race
The 4th of July activities kick off at Boogie’s Diner with a 5K charity run and a 1 mile family & canine walk benefiting the Buddy Program.
People & dogs of all ages run, walk & stroll though the streets of Aspen, while their participation provided funding to support more than 650 local Aspen youth through mentoring and other vital youth services.
Aspen’s Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade
By late morning, thousands begin to gather on the streets of downtown Aspen for the 4th of July parade. The crowds cheered as fire trucks, floats, bikes, and more provided color and excitement to the annual parade.
Picnics, Music, a Carnival & Dancing in the Streets
The afternoon & evening were filled with picnics, a free concert by the Aspen Music Festival Band at the Benedict music tent, and a party in the streets of downtown Aspen to finish out the day.