Aspen to Crested Butte - end of September?

Janice

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Has anyone done this during fall color? We'll be in Colorado the last week in September and are considering Aspen to Crested Butte, then a day in Crested Butte, then return to Aspen. @gnwatts, I just checked out your TR from Summer 2017 - beautiful scenery!

Thoughts and advice?
 

gnwatts

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Fall would be gorgeous. Spending a day in Crested Butte is a good idea. Parking was a pain in the ass at Maroon Lake. I don't know the rules now, but we got there very early and got one of the last parking spaces. It was a great hike.
It took us about 5.5 hours, we took our time.
 

TheMountainRabbit

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Parking was a pain in the ass at Maroon Lake. I don't know the rules now, but we got there very early and got one of the last parking spaces.
I don't like it, but I think the best option is just to park in Aspen and take the bus - that was by far the easiest when I last did an overnight there. On previous trips I found a spot, but only just barely and it was a pain.

Great time for a trip out there though - strongly recommend. Just keep an eye on the weather and stay warm!
 

Janice

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Super helpful info - thanks! We'd be starting on a Thursday morning, so I wonder if parking would be more available than on a weekend.
 

gnwatts

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It's always crowded. Get there as early as you can.
I think you will need to make a reservation.
 

Janice

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I've been checking into this more and see we can go there and back two different ways - West Maroon one day and East Maroon the other day. Has anyone done this or done the trails separately? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 

RyanP

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If you're willing to backpack, I would recommend doing a different route in the area instead. That stretch from Maroon Lake up and over West Maroon Pass is my least favorite stretch of the four-pass loop (although it is spectacular, I think it's slightly less spectacular, and more crowded, than the rest). The four-pass loop is only a little more effort than your proposed trip, and you'll see much more variety of scenery. Some of the other trails in the area are great as well, and less crowded.
 

Janice

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Thanks @RyanP. My husband and I would love to backpack the four-pass loop at some point, but this time we'll be with our sons and a girlfriend (and their dog), and backpacking with tents isn't going to work for them. Bummer!
 

RyanP

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That makes sense. If it were me, I'd make a loop of it and go back over East Maroon Pass for sure to get more variety (I've never done that trail). If you do the loop, you probably want to do West Maroon Pass on the less crowded day (ie. furthest from the weekend). If you have a day in between, maybe you could do a dayhike loop of Hasley Basin and Fravert Basin or something of the sort (I haven't been to Hasley Basin yet; Fravert Basin is awesome). That specific area is probably better earlier in the summer though (more fields of wildflowers than groves of Aspens).

Also, I second the comment that that I would plan on the parking always being crowded and that you will need a reservation
 

Janice

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That makes sense. If it were me, I'd make a loop of it and go back over East Maroon Pass for sure to get more variety (I've never done that trail). If you do the loop, you probably want to do West Maroon Pass on the less crowded day (ie. furthest from the weekend). If you have a day in between, maybe you could do a dayhike loop of Hasley Basin and Fravert Basin or something of the sort (I haven't been to Hasley Basin yet; Fravert Basin is awesome). That specific area is probably better earlier in the summer though (more fields of wildflowers than groves of Aspens).

Also, I second the comment that that I would plan on the parking always being crowded and that you will need a reservation
Thanks for all your help. I'm checking out the situation with parking reservations. Given your recommendation, I think we'll start at W Maroon and then return E Maroon. I'm excited to check them out! I looked up the basins, and the pictures I'm seeing are beautiful. I'm realizing, though, that without a car in Crested Butte it will take some effort to get 5 of us (and a dog) from one spot to the next. I've never been to CB and had incorrectly assumed that the town was close to the THs. (I don't know why I assumed that...) Spending more time with the map is making me think if might not make sense to do the extra day at CB. Instead, maybe we should do the E Maroon return and then do an Aspen dayhike the next day. I see plenty of beautiful ones to choose among there...
 

ImNotDedYet

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A few years ago, you had to park in town and take a bus to Maroon Lake after like 8 AM. I'm not sure what time the buses started - if they start earlier than that. I got there at 5:30 or 6 AM and the parking lot was packed. That time of year, the whole place is a you know what show.

I'm not sure if they've changed the rules now. Since Covid, a lot of places are requiring reservations, parking and taking a bus, etc.
 
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