High-altitude snowpack cuts off access to outdoor recreation spots in Colorado

Maroon Bells, Aspen Colorado, Photo Credit: Amy the Nurse (Flickr).

According to the U.S Forest Service, popular backpacking destinations in Colorado’s high country will be inaccessible until mid-July due to snow, avalanche debris, and other natural hazards.

The Conundrum Trailhead is currently closed due to impacts from a March 2019 avalanche. The trailhead will likely open by the end of June. Permits required for camping in the Conundrum Hot Springs permit zone can be reserved through recreation.gov.

West Maroon Pass, a popular route that traverses through the Maroon Bells Wilderness – taking hikers from Crested Butte to Aspen (or vice versa) – is facing quite a few setbacks. On the Crested Butte side, reaching the trailhead by vehicle from Schofield Pass is currently impassable due to deep snow and avalanche debris. Plan accordingly and estimate 2-3 extra miles of hiking over West Maroon Pass.

Expect to find snow on the following trails; Willow Lake, Williams Lake, Woody Creek, Yule Creek, West Maroon, West Snowmass, Trail Rider Pass, Upper Capitol Creek, Tabor Creek, Spruce Creek, South Fork Pass, Silver Creek Pass, Sawyer Lake, Savage Lakes, Rocky Fork, Red Table, Placita, Mount Sopris, Midway Creek, Middle Thompson, Lyle/Mormon Lakes, Linkins Lake, Josephine Lake, Henderson Park, Hell Roaring, Hannon Creek, Grottos, Grizzly Lake, Granite Lakes, Geneva Lake, Frying Pan Lakes, Fravert Basin, Four Pass Loop, East Maroon Pass, Eagle Lake, East Creek, Dexter Park, Crater Lake, Conundrum Creek, Chapman Gulch, Cathedral Lake, Capitol Creek, Buckskin Pass, Avalanche Lake, Aspen-Norrie, Aspen-Crested Butte, Arkansas Mountain, and American Lake.

Trails impacted or blocked by avalanche debris may include American Lake, Anthracite Pass/Rasberry Loop, Avalanche Lake, Conundrum Creek, East Snowmass Creek, Carbonate Creek, Cathedral Lake, Hell Roaring Trail, Maroon Creek, Maroon Lake Scenic Area, Maroon-Snowmass, Rasberry Creek Loop, and Snowmass Lake.

High-altitude snowpack cuts off access to outdoor recreation spots in Colorado

Avalanche debris, Photo Credit Mitch Barrie (Flickr).

Temporary closures are currently in effect for Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park due to icy, snowy, and wintery conditions. Some of the trails in the park are also covered in late-summer snow just after 2 to 3 miles of hiking terrain. Winter conditions remain widespread on Longs Peak, with terrain above treeline largely covered from a few inches to several feet of snow. For updated trail conditions, click here.

High country trails are covered in snow, so delay your trip or be prepared for difficult conditions. Hikers and backpackers may encounter snow, downed trees, mud, high winds, and cold swift river crossings until sometime in July. Remember, deep snowpack makes it difficult to follow the trail, especially at higher elevations. Before setting out to explore, always check the weather and current trail conditions. Use proper gear for hiking on snowy trails including trekking poles, waterproof boots, microspikes, Yaktrax, crampons, and ice axes. If you are hiking alone, always let a friend or family member know where you’re going and when you’re planning to return.

For more information on current trail conditions and closures around the Centennial State, click here.



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