This update really only pertains to West Maroon Pass as I didn’t really have much for views of the other mountain passes between Crested Butte and Aspen.

People are hiking West Maroon Pass, but the conditions are definitely tough at the moment. The big two difficulties are the number of miles that you’ll be walking on snow which is more tiring, and the navigation difficulties. With more time conditions will continue to improve. It’s just hard to say how long. There are a number of folks hiking the weekend of July 20th, so we should have another conditions update after that.

On the Aspen Side of West Maroon there are plenty of trees like this hiding the trail.
This is the biggest creek crossing on the Aspen Side of West Maroon. Just as in 2017 it is covered by Avalanche Debris and not melting out any time soon. Without the snow the trail would be near the read line. Right now, it’s actually easier to go up the creek for awhile and stay on the snow. For some folks, this is an example of an area where they could easily get lost.

The summer snow is so sun-cupped and soft at its surface that traveling on the steeper slopes holding snow isn’t too bad and you get steps kicked in. A stiff-soled boot definitely helps with that. The Aspen Side of West Maroon Pass is really the only steep snow slope left along this route. Otherwise, all the snow you are walking on is lower angled.

The Aspen Side of West Maroon Pass. The streaks in the snow are where people recently sent it off the pass on their butts. Great fun if you know what you are doing. You don’t want to get out of control and/or slide into rocks.
All the sun-cups and soft snow surface is making it fairly easy to kick steps and walk up this steep snow. Of course you don’t want to slip and go sliding back down out of control.

With all the miles of snow walking, you are really going to struggle and probably get lost if you don’t know how to navigate. Which side of the valley should you be walking on, where in the terrain should you go, and how do you find the trail again when the snow starts to disappear. These are all questions you should easily be able to answer if you want to make the hike right now. As more and more people do this hike, the routes through the snow will become more obvious.

Looking off of West Maroon Pass down the Crested Butte side. Or more specifically, down toward Schofield Park.
Looking off West Maroon Pass on the Aspen side and down toward the Maroon Bells Trailhead

Other little pluses: All the snow travel is actually keeping the trek from being as muddy as I expected at the moment. Conditions around this time in 2017 were far worse with the mud. The impact people are having on the area is also less than expected since people are again more often on the snow, vs making braids in the trail to get around mud. When the trail is muddy, you should still stick to the trail. Otherwise, you’re off making a bad image for hikers as you trample vegetation and make a greater impact by walking around those sections. You’re going to get muddy and your feet are certainly going to get wet. It’s all part of the deal.

Typical muddy trail sections.

The biggest creek crossings are all on the Aspen Side of West Maroon. Similar to 2017, the main creek crossings are all covered in snow so you don’t have to worry about crossing through the water, and I don’t see the snow bridges melting any time soon. You can see an example of this in one of the pictures above.

On the Crested Butte end of the West Maroon Pass hike there is still the big snowplug on Schofield Pass. You can easily walk over this snow, but you are not going to be able to drive a car over Schofield any time soon. We’ve reported on this in previous conditions updates. To keep it short here, you can basically count on about 2miles of extra hiking from where you can park.

Still a little snow left on top of Schofield Pass. All easy to walk through.

The big mommy snowplug on Schofield Pass that isn’t melting out any time soon. Easy to walk over but you are definitely not driving through it.

Also, a couple videos from West Maroon Pass got posted in our previous update on July 13th. Go check them out if you want.