Approximately 3 hours and 3.6 miles round trip. Moderate difficulty.
Maroon Bells to Crater Lake is one of my favorite hikes near Aspen. May/June is the best time to go to avoid a crowded trail and the September/October fall foliage is absolutely spectacular. Depending on when you go, there may or may not be a Crater Lake. The lake is full in the spring but as summer heats up, the lake will completely dry up by September.
The trail is very rocky and not stroller friendly. My 4 year old and 7 year old completed this hike easily with one snack break. I would recommend a carrier for children 3 and under as little feet and legs have difficulty with the many rocks on the trail. Also, remember to bring a jacket if hiking in the early morning or late afternoon. As soon as the sun goes behind the mountain, the temperature drops drastically.
Visit Maroon Bells Reservations | Aspen (aspenchamber.org) to make a shuttle or parking reservation. You must have a parking reservation to visit Maroon Bells. The rangers at the station will not let you in without it! Reservations also fill up quickly so plan ahead!
Pro tip: If you have a child 2 years of age or younger in a car seat, you are allowed to park at Maroon Bells midday during peak season! You do not have to ride the bus like everyone else! This is probably the best perk to having a toddler that I have ever found! lol You still must call ahead and get a parking reservation 970-930-6442.
Crater Lake in the fall. The lake has dried up and has been replaced by gorgeous golden grass.
Crater Lake in early June with my 7 year old (Max), his 7 year old friend (Asher), and my 4 year old (Gus). We were all glad to have packed our puffer jackets as the temperature dropped when we made it to the lake.
The boys enjoying a snack break.