Maroon Peak

 South Ridge
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: Extreme!  
Commitment: Extreme!  
TrailheadMaroon Lake
Start9,590 feet
Summit14,163 feet
Total Gain4,800 feet
RT Length12.00 miles
SheriffPitkin: 970-920-5300
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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In addition to the difficulties of parking at Maroon Lake, a permit is now required to camp near Crater Lake and they are most likely gone. You will probably have to dayhike your peak(s) from the trailhead. Please read the Maroon Lake trailhead alerts.


You must book in-advance to get an overnight parking permit at the Maroon Lake trailhead. There are a limited number of overnight permits available and they will likely be gone/booked before summer. However, they do have a "Midnight-to-Midnight" permit which allows you to drive to the trailhead between midnight and 8am and hike the same day, leaving by midnight. Please visit this page for more information.
Making it even MORE difficult to climb the Maroon Bells or Pyramid, a reservation is now required to pack in and camp near Crater Lake and permits are likely gone/reserved for the summer. However, if you are lucky enough to get a wilderness camp permit, you are provided an overnight parking permit as well. If you aren't able to get a camp permit, you'll have to dayhike your peak(s) and still deal with parking or get dropped off at the trailhead early in the morning. Check for wilderness camping permits at For reference, check out the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Overnight Permit Zone Map
Drive to Aspen and locate the start of to the Maroon Creek road at a roundabout just west of town. Measuring mileage from there, drive 3.2 miles where you'll pass a ranch. At 4.7 miles, reach the U.S. Forest Service entrance station. During summer, the road is closed to cars 8am to 5pm and people ride buses to reach the lake. The bus station is located down the road, at the base of Aspen Highlands. If you don't have a reservation to park at the actual trailhead, you'll either 1) Need to reserve a return shuttle ride back to town on the day you hike out and have someone drop you off at the trailhead between 6:00am and 8:00am on your hike-in day or 2) Park in town and make reservations for a shuttle up on your hike-in day and a shuttle down on your hike-out day.


Leave the Maroon Lake trailhead and walk west onto the trail near the lake - 1. Pass the lake and start up the Crater Lake trail. Hike approximately 1.75 miles to reach another signed trail junction . Turn left and continue on the West Maroon Creek trail to Crater Lake where you can see The Bells and West Maroon Creek to the southwest - 2. Follow the trail along the right side of the lake and into the trees where you may need to cross some small streams. Exit the trees near the south end of the lake and continue south through heavy ground cover. Cross a talus field ( 3), descend slightly back to the willows and continue south for approx. 0.5 mile to reach a cairned trail junction , at 10,400' - 4. Turn right, and start up the Maroon Peak trail.

The next 2,800' of the route ascends Maroon's east slopes to reach the south ridge. Traverse for approx. 0.5 mile and near 10,900', the trail begins climbing west up the slope - 5. Near 11,600', approach some rock outcroppings and small cliff bands - 6. Follow the trail as it angles left into these outcroppings. The remaining hike to the ridge gets gradually more difficult and the trail a bit harder to follow. Try to stay on the trail as you continue up steep, rocky sections - 7. Near 12,900', gain a ridge crest and turn right to follow the steep, loose trail toward the crest of the south ridge - 8. Reach the South Ridge at a small notch, near 13,250'. Climb right out of the notch and over a rock outcropping to see the remaining route - 9. If the weather is brewing or you have some very tired party members, this is a good place to decide whether or not to proceed. Speedy climbers will take at least 1.5 hours to reach the summit from here. If you're not one of those climbers, plan on 2 or more hours to reach the top.

The remaining route requires careful route finding and you may find slight variations from the route description. Take your time to study the terrain and look for the safest route possible. 9 and 10 show the route but not all aspects of it can be seen from this area. In short: Staying on the west side of the ridge, traverse through complicated terrain for approx. 0.4 mile, around Point 13,753', and continue on the west side before gaining the south ridge just below the summit.

Follow a cairned trail on the west side of the ridge for roughly 0.1 mile and turn right to find a chimney between some rock towers - 11. Climb the chimney, turn left, and climb up through a large crack - 12. Now above 13,400', continue onto easier terrain where the next section is visible - 13. Cross below a notch ( 14) and climb to a large, white rock band. Continue across ledges and around a corner to a point where you can see Point 13,753' - 15. Continue on more ledges to reach ugly terrain before Point 13,753' - 16.

The route gets more serious here and some difficult route-finding is ahead. Study the terrain and look for cairns in the distance to avoid backtracking. As seen in 16, there are two obvious gullies ahead and either one can be climbed - both may have cairns leading into them. Your goal is to climb about half way up either gully to reach cairned ledges before continuing left around the west side of Point 13,753'. Drop a bit to reach the base of a gully and carefully begin climbing along the side of the gully. There's a lot of loose rock in this area. As you climb, take time to locate cairns to the left so you don't climb too high. If you climb the first gully, exit it near 13,500' and traverse left on a ledge to reach the second, then climb a bit higher to an exit point on the left, near 13,550' - 17. Continue left on ledges to a robot-shaped rock ( 18) and around a corner to reach the broad gully separating Point 13,753' and the summit - 19.

Enter the gully, turn right and ascend ( 20 and 21) to the top of it, at a notch in the south ridge. Turn left, climb onto ledges ( 22) and continue to a small slope, covered with exposed ledges. This slope holds some of the most difficult and exposed climbing on the route. After passing some initial cliffs, turn right and ascend approximately 150' before traversing left across the slope - 23 and 24. On the far side of this slope, pass below some cliffs to reach a corner - 25. There are several points where you can reach the corner, so you may not reach this exact point. Turn right around the corner and scramble a short distance up to the ridge crest - 26, 27 and 28. Follow the ridge to the summit - 29, 30 and 31.


This route holds some dangerous terrain and plenty of tedious route finding. Attempt the route only if you are in good shape, have ample time, and a favorable weather forecast.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22 #23 #24 #25 #26 #27 #28 #29 #30 #31

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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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