Photo
North Maroon Peak
standard Northeast Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 4 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: High  
 
Trailhead:Maroon Lake
Start:9,590 feet
Summit:14,014 feet
Total Gain:4,500 feet
RT Length:9.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:90 reports
Cell Signal:5 reports
Sheriff:Pitkin: 970-920-5300
Forest:White River
Wilderness:Maroon Bells - Snowmass
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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? (Summer/Fall) Due to recent problems with black bears, the US Forest Service requires bear canisters when camping in the Maroon Bells Wilderness.

Trailhead

NOTICE: For 2020, you must book in-advance to get an overnight parking spot at the Maroon Lake trailhead. Please visit this page for more information. Summer parking will likely be booked fast so you'll probably have to park in town and ride the shuttle up the night before your hike.

Full Link: https://aspenchamber.org/plan-trip/trip-highlights/maroon-bells/reservations

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, there are restrictions to general travel on the Maroon Creek road. 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're backpacking in and camping before your climb, there are two overnight parking lots near Maroon Lake and if they are not full, the entrance station personnel may allow you to proceed during the day. If the lots are mostly full, they may ask you to come back at 5pm when some of the overnight hikers have driven out. If you're arriving after 5pm and there's no one at the station, you can pay the entrance fee and drive up. Just be sure to park in one of the overnight lots, not the marked, "Day Use" lots. If you plan to arrive at the trailhead early in the morning (definitely before 8am) and day-hike, you can drive up to the trailhead and park in one of the "Day Use" lots. The Crater Lake trail starts near far end of Maroon Lake.

Route

Much of the route up North Maroon can be seen as you approach the Maroon Lake trailhead - 1. Leave the Maroon Lake parking, walk past the lake and continue on the Crater Lake trail - 2. Walk approximately 1.75 miles to a signed trail junction. Turn right onto the Maroon-Snowmass trail - 3. On the new trail, hike just over 0.75 mile through the forest to another trail junction - 4. This is the turn for North Maroon Peak - turn left and descend to the creek in Minnehaha Gulch. 5 shows the route on the other side of the creek. Cross the stream ( 6) and walk through the bushes to reach a talus field - 7. Follow the trail up through talus, turn left and continue south under cliff bands. From 11,200' to 11,400', ascend more talus ( 8 and 9) and turn left into an open, grassy area. Continue to the rock glacier below North Maroon's North Face - 10.

Follow cairns and trail segments onto the rock glacier and cross it while aiming for a break in the cliffs on the other side - 11. Keeping looking for cairns and you should not lose or gain much elevation as you cross the rock glacier. Once you've crossed, locate a more-defined trail and follow it around a corner - 12. Shortly past the corner, turn right and climb 200' of steep terrain below some cliffs - 13. Above 11,900', turn left and hike to a corner where you get your first look at the next portion of the route - a broad gully that climbs west toward the northeast ridge - 14. For the remainder of this route description, this gully will be referred to as the 1ST GULLY because there is another gully that is climbed higher on the route.

15 is a closer look at the gully, from the corner. Follow the trail south into the gully before turning right and climbing the left side - 16. Next, you'll climb 600' before exiting on the left side, below a towering rock formation seen in 16. Much of this area is steep Class 2 hiking but as you climb, the terrain becomes more difficult and requires more route-finding through small rock bands - 17. Well below the large rock formation, follow the trail left and exit the gully near 12,700' - 18. Turn another corner and traverse across ledges to reach the entrance to the 2nd GULLY near 12,600' - 19.

Ok, things get a bit more serious beyond this point. This gully is steeper than the 1st and has plenty of loose rock near the top. If the weather is deteriorating, turn back! The remaining route is time consuming and is not a good place to be in foul weather. Follow the narrow trail along ledges and cross the center of the gully to begin climbing steep, grassy terrain - 20 and 21. Above 12,900', the gully gets steeper and there is more loose rock. Carefully follow the faint trail along the left side of the gully - 22. In this photo, a hump of red rock is seen in the upper right - the route climbs to the left of that hump to reach the ridge crest . 23 looks down the gully and 24 looks across to the northeast. Continue toward a notch in the ridge - 25. Turn left and carefully climb ledges to gain the ridge crest, near 13,200'.

Plenty of climbing and loose rock remains - 26. Climb a short distance up the ridge and the crux comes into view - a rock band at 13,600' - 27. There's a Class 3 way around the rock band by hiking to the right and ascending easier terrain but most people climb the rock band directly, using a short, Class 4 chimney. Walk up to the pitch and carefully begin climbing - 28 and 29. At the top of the crux, turn right and follow easier terrain around cliffs ( 30) before turning left to climb back toward the ridge crest - 31. Climb onto a precipice where you can see the remaining 300' to the summit - 32. Leave the precipice and climb along the left side of the ridge on loose rock - 33. Pass through more ledges ( 34) and ascend the final 150' ( 35) of loose rock to reach the summit - 36 and 37. Taken from Pyramid Peak, 38 shows the east side of North Maroon and a good view of the route between the 1st and 2nd gullies.

Notes

This route requires plenty of time and route-finding, so plan your climb when the forecast calls for good weather. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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