Trail Stats & Info

RT length 6 miles
(from Snowmass Lake)
Elevation gain 3,038 feet
Difficulty difficult (Class 3)
Trail Surface/Condition tundra, loose rock,
boulders, snow
Used for hiking, scrambling
Lowest elevation 11,054 feet
Highest elevation 14,092 feet
Trail type out & back
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 128
Restrooms @ TH? no


From Glenwood Springs, take Hwy 82 south towards Aspen for 27 miles. After passing Basalt, take a right onto Snowmass Creek Rd (CO 11). In about 1.7 miles, take a left at the T interesection to continue onto Snowmass Creek Rd.

View of Snowmass Lake

View of Snowmass Lake

In about 7 miles from Hwy 82, the road becomes a dirt road. 10.7 miles from Hwy 82, turn left and drive over the creek. Then at the T intersection, turn right and follow this road to the end at the parking lot. The trailhead is at the far left of the parking lot.

From Aspen, take Hwy 82 west out of Aspen and turn left onto Brush Creek Rd (CO 10) through Snowmass Village. After 6 miles, Brush Creek Rd. becomes CO 11 or Snowmass Creek Rd. Follow the road till the end to the parking lot.


From the parking area the trail climbs into the aspen trees behind the information board. The trail climbs on the east side of Snowmass Creek for about 6 miles. It continues above and to the left of a large beaver pond and soon crosses Snowmass Creek at a second beaver pond. Sandals are recommended for this stream crossing. You will most likely get wet. The trail then continues south climbing several switchbacks before entering the forest. As the trail levels you will come to a wooden sign post. Continue straight ahead to get to Snowmass Lake.



snowmassmtn03 We hiked this 14er by initially hiking to Snowmass Lake from the Maroon-Snowmass trailhead which follows Snowmass Creek, setting up a base camp by the lake, then the following day we hiked up and down the mountain and returned to our camp by the lake for another night of camping. You can visit our “Snowmass Lake” trail post for more information.

The trail starts across Snowmass Creek near the lake where there are several logs to use to cross the creek. After crossing, hike to the right towards the lake and follow a trail that is just left of the lake. There are actually 2 trails that follow the east side of the lake. We did not see the one further up on the hill until coming back later that day. Both trails require bushwacking through the willows, but I would say it was a little easier on the trail up higher on the hill. So, if you can find that trail which starts near the beginning of the lake, you’ll be a little bit happier. Either trail you take, they both meet up somewhere in the middle of the lake. Continue hiking along the lake to the southeast side where the trail comes to a boulder field. From here, the hiking gets tough and slow going, unless you like rock hopping. Follow the cairns just left of the curved patch of willows to a gully. It gets very steep at the gully and the trail has a lot of loose rocks and dirt.

The summit from ridge crossing

The summit from ridge crossing

Eventually you will need to cross the gully and the best place is when you see a cairn on the other side of the gully by the willows. There will probably be water running down this section so be careful as the rocks get slick. After crossing the gully, follow a narrow trail through the willows and up to the base of the amphitheater which is a flatter section of the mountain. Usually this area still has quite a bit of snow, but as it was fall, there was almost no snow. I’ve heard it is easiest to hike when the snow is hard-packed with some sort of traction on your boots. This definitely avoids scrambling over boulders which would take much longer than walking on snow. As the tundra disappears into rocks and boulders, there isn’t much of trail from here on to the summit. Carefully follow the cairns up towards the broad bump just left of the summit. The route goes to the bump, where you will need to reach and go on to the other side of the ridge. From the base of the bump and on is pretty much class 3 hiking. There is a section of steep cliffs just below the bump. You will need to scramble up to the left of the cliffs. When you’re next to the cliff, you can either go up a narrow chute to reach the ridge, or you can stay to the left and go around that chute. Either way you will reach the ridge and see cairns on the other side. We went up the narrow chute which is very steep and has a lot of loose dirt and rocks. It became it bit precarious towards the top of the chute as my feet kept sliding down the loose dirt. If I had to do it again, I would probably go to the left and go around that chute. Once crossing over the ridge to the west slope, the rest of the route to the summit follows on the west side of the ridge which has a medium degree of exposure. Follow the various cairns marking the route and eventually you will reach the summit of Snowmass Mountain. From the ridge crossing to the summit, the distance is only 1/3 of a mile, but for us it was the longest 1/3 mile in our lives! We didn’t spend too much time on the summit as it was already 2:00 pm. We saw 2 other hikers at the summit who hiked the west slope. For the descent, head down the same way you came up.

Select Photos





Photo Gallery

[flagallery gid=34 name=”Snowmass Lake”]
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Monday 09/24/2018 40%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered showers and thunderstorms, especially during the morning. High 69F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Tuesday 09/25/2018 0%
Sunny. High 69F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Wednesday 09/26/2018 0%
Mainly sunny. High 69F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday 09/27/2018 0%
Mostly sunny. High 73F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Friday 09/28/2018 0%
Sunny. High 76F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph.

Comments or Questions?

About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"