In our second edition of Off The Grid we will be traveling deep into the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Located about 12 miles southwest of Aspen, CO, tower some of Colorado’s most picturesque mountains: the Maroon Bells.
Appropriately named for the maroon coloring of the mud rock they are composed of, the Maroon Bells are sought by vacationers and adventures from all around the world. Lying within this sub-range of the Elk Mountains is also one of Colorado’s most pristine lakes: Snowmass Lake.
Snowmass Lake sits at the base of 14,092ft Snowmass Mountain, at about 11,000ft. Its alpine waters are primarily fed by the massive snowfield that resides on the eastern slope of Snowmass Mountain, which is usually present into July.
Getting to Snowmass Lake is no walk in the park however. After about a 20 minute drive southwest of Aspen, one must gear up for a 7.5 mile trek to the lake that gains over 2,800ft in 4 miles. Certainly not for the faint at heart, the trek takes an average of 6-8 hours to complete one way, assuming good weather. It is difficult for even the advanced hikers to make a day-trip into the lake and out the same day, making this location truly Off The Grid.
While admittedly late in the season, some hearty backpackers no doubt will be making their way out to the lake this week and weekend. And they chose a great week/weekend to do it! A ridge of high pressure continues to bring dry conditions across much of the western United States, which is expected to carry into the weekend as well. Along with this high pressure temperatures are expected to run above normal through the weekend, which should melt much of the snow that has fallen around Snowmass Lake by the weekend. Winds will remain rather weak out of the north over the next couple of days, but will likely be variable at times, begin that Snowmass Lake is surrounded by mountains. Winds will shift from northerly to westerly late next week, but should remain weak into Saturday with high pressure overhead. By midday Saturday winds may increase out of the west to 5-10 mph, but should remain suppressed greatly by Snowmass Mountain to the west. A weak disturbance may bring a few high clouds to the area Saturday night into Sunday; otherwise, expect mostly sunny skies into the weekend.
Wednesday: Sunny. High 45, Low 21 .
Thursday: Sunny. High 46, Low 20.
TWC: ** No Forecast Available. **
AW: ** No Forecast Available. **
NWS: ** No Forecast Available. **
WB: ** No Forecast Available. **
View Snowmass Lake From Maroon-Snowmass TH in a larger map
OTG Rating: >>6<<The Maroon Bells are heavily trafficked by hiking standards, primarily due to its close proximity to the tourist trap that is Aspen, CO. Thus, it can be tough to find true solitude. Maroon-Snowmass Trailhead is typically busy even during the week, but once one treks past Crater Lake the hiker density greatly decreases from about 30 hikers per mile to about 7 hikers per mile. Even so, the number of people camping at Snowmass Lake can be high even during the week.
Note: The ‘OTG Rating’ is based on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being completely Off The Grid and 1 being within a major city or otherwise Grid Locked.